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Gay Toronto Travel Guide

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Church-Wellesley Village is Toronto’s iconic gay neighborhood. Sitting on the north part of Church Street in Downtown Toronto, “The Village” plays host to over a dozen gay bars, gay restaurants, and a widening expanse of LGBT-heavy residential blocks. Many of its local establishments acted as backdrop to popular 90s American TV show “Queer as Folk”. Among other venues, the area features the world’s oldest gay bookstore (Glad Day Bookshop), an independent gay theatre (Buddies in Bad Times), gay saunas, coffee shops, and a community centre (The 519).

Recent years have seen the growth of a secondary gay-friendly hotspot, with many gay-friendly arts and nightlife venues popping up in “Queer West Village”, the trendy neighborhood stretching along Queen Street West from Trinity Bellwoods Park to Roncesvalles Avenue. These bars and arts spaces tend to attract a younger, mixed clientele.

Every June, Toronto’s gay village becomes the epicentre of North America’s largest LGBT festival, Toronto Pride, lasting ten days. Highlights include numerous stages with live performance and DJs, the Dyke March, the Trans March, and builds up to the enormous annual Pride Parade down Yonge Street.

Other annual festivals and events hitting Toronto each year include Toronto Fashion Week in March, the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival each May, Toronto Fringe Festival in July, Toronto International Film Festival in September, and Nuit Blanche in October. Halloween, known locally as “Gay Christmas”, limits part of Church Street to pedestrian traffic, as locals pack the streets in elaborate costumes.

Popular affordable accommodations include a number of large hotels near the Gay Village: Courtyard by Marriott Downtown TorontoChelsea HotelToronto Marriott Bloor YorkvilleHoliday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre, and Bond Place HotelThe Drake Hotel in Queer West Village serves as both a boutique hotel and popular nightspot with three separate bars, a restaurant and café. For higher-end accommodations, visitors should look to either the upscale Yorkville area (Four Seasons Hotel TorontoThe Hazelton Hotel, or the iconic Windsor Arms Hotel), or one of the entertainment district’s luxury properties (The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto or Shangri-La Hotel Toronto).