The largest gay population in Western Canada lives in this ocean-wrapped and snow-capped city. Vancouver has a long record of advocacy for the GLBT community. British Columbia was among the first Canadian provinces to legalize gay marriage, and Vancouver today is a mecca for same-sex weddings. Plus, both the 1990 Gay Games and the 2011 North America Outgames were held in the city.
The gay community is centered around two different neighbourhoods. Davie Street, in downtown's West End, is the epicenter of the gay scene. This quaint, residential area boasts cafes, casual eateries and some of the city's best nightlife, not to mention the nearby beaches of English Bay. Meanwhile, on the city's eastern fringe, Commerical Drive is popular among Vancouver's thriving lesbian community. It's packed with ethnic restaurants, cute cafes and one-off shops.
The undisputed highlight of the GLBT year in Vancouver is the annual Pride Parade and Festival. Held every summer, the parade brings out up to 600,000 spectators and is Western Canada's largest Pride event. It's preceded by a week of parties, cruises, dances and gala beer gardens throughout the city. Summer also brings the annual Queer Film Festival, with upward of 10,000 fans turning out for a week of independent queer cinema, workshops and discussions. And every winter nearby Whistler hosts WinterPRIDE, a gay ski week marked by lavish parties, culinary events and some of the best skiing in North America.