Gay Edmonton Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Edmonton Canada 2019
Modern, sprawling, and cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey for large parts of the year, Edmonton might be an offbeat destination for queer travelers -- but rest assured that there is a surprisingly unusual and lively gay scene to be discovered here.
The capital of Alberta and a government city through-and-through, Edmonton does have a certain charm for those who enjoy getting under the skin of a place and discovering what makes it tick.
There is the historic Old Strathcona district, several intriguing museums, hipster live music venues, and modern dining galore. Then there is the incredible nature right in the city, the highlight of which is Edmonton’s river valley comprises over 20 major parks and forming the largest expanse of urban parkland in Canada.
This is without even considering the ridiculous amount of festivals that take place here each year, including the Edmonton Street Fest, the Flying Canoe Volant, the Edmonton Heritage Festival, K-Days, and the Edmonton International Fringe Festival -- second only the original in Edinburgh. It’s no wonder that Edmonton has earned its reputation as The Festival City of Capanda!
We won’t claim the gay scene in Edmonton is reason alone to visit -- but certainly has enough to be worth exploring if you are already in the area. In terms of queer nightlife, there is one excellent nightclub, a variety of on-going LGBT nights at different bars, and a genuinely fabulous pop-up party series, Fruit Loop, whose parties are absolutely not to be missed.
There is also a well-equipt Pride Center, and a host of organizations and businesses ensure that the needs of the diverse Gay Edmonton scene are meet.
Canada is renowned for its openness, meaning gay explorers can be ensured a safe and fun visit in Edmonton where they are free to be themselves and love whomever they wish. LGBT rights in Canada are some of the most advanced in the world, and in modern times the Government of Canada has a strong history of commitment to protecting and advancing the rights of queer people — both at home and abroad.
Whether you’re gay, straight, or a sickening post-label unicorn, Gay Edmonton has plenty of impressive experiences and inclusive spaces to ensure you are loved and accepted just the way you are. Queer spirit, passion, and energy are by no means missing here -- you only need to know where to look…
Gay Edmonton Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Edmonton Canada 2019
Naturally, being gay does not define which attractions most of us will want to see in each destination, and most queer travelers will merely want to check out the top things to see in Edmonton during the day! We found our favorite memories were hiring a car and exploring the vast and empty Northern wildness landscapes, dining in the chic, upscale eateries of Edmonton’s revitalized downtown, and dancing till dawn surrounded by our fabulous queer community.
However, if you’re someone who wants to see it all, we have put together a few more popular things to do in Edmonton that are sure to keep you busy! Whether you’re a refined foodie, an outdoor adventure seeker, or a first-time visitor, rest assured that progressive Edmonton will have something for you.
Top Things To Do In Edmonton
Galaxyland -- North America’s largest indoor amusement park features more than 27 spectacular rides, attractions and play areas for all ages. Located in the West Edmonton Mall -- the largest mall in North America -- it is home to the world’s tallest and longest indoor roller coaster, the Mindbender.
Southeast Edmonton Roots and Resources Bus Tour -- Learn about this prairie city, from the fur-trading past to the oil and gas-powered present. This coach tour is an exciting way to spend some time exploring some highlights and little-known gems of Edmonton. Visit Chinatown, Little Italy, and the French Quarter for a look at some of the cultural influences on the city, as well as the curious spots that make Edmonton such a unique place to visit.
Downtown Delights -- Sample Edmonton’s best bites on a 3-hour, small-group gourmet tour that includes brunch, a wine pairing, coffee, and a variety of treats from the downtown farmers market. Learn about this history of Edmonton as you stroll, snack, and meet producers, and explore Edmonton art and culture along the way.
Ukrainian Cultural Village -- An open-air museum telling the story of Ukrainian settlement in east-central Alberta from 1892 to 1930. You won’t believe us before going, but this is one of the cities top attractions.
Brewsters Brewing Tour -- Add a little hoppy, frothy goodness to your stay. Edmonton Brewery Tours takes guests on a journey through Edmonton’s thriving craft beer scene. Discover how passionate tap pullers and a thirst for good beer quickly evolved into a local liquid obsession. As we take you through a journey this brewery, you will sample a variety of custom beers, each with their own unique, local story. Bottoms up!
Art Gallery of Alberta-- A museum dedicated to excellent and innovative practice in programming, stewardship, and presentation of visual arts in Western Canada. The Art Gallery of Alberta creates a welcoming and engaging environment where people are motivated to transform their understanding of the world by connecting with the visual arts.
The Royal Alberta Museum -- The largest museum in western Canada and one of the country’s top museums. Embark on a journey through millions of years of Alberta’s remarkable stories with expansive Natural and Human History halls chronicling the history of Alberta’s people, animals, and landscapes.
Muttart Conservatory -- Edmonton’s premier horticultural attraction nestled in the river valley and featuring more than 700 species of plants in 3 climate-regulated biomes -- arid, temperate and tropical -- and a feature biome, located within striking glass pyramids.
Gay Things To Do In Edmonton
The Pride Centre of Edmonton-- A non-judgmental, welcoming space where people of all attractions, identities, and expressions can be themselves, find support, meet new people, and be part of a caring community. Under our roof is a safe space that welcomes every individual who walks through the doors. The Pride Centre of Edmonton offers resources, education, volunteer opportunities, counseling, and a whole host of activities to enrich and improve the lives of LGBTQ2S+ people in the Greater Edmonton area. If you are planning to spend longer in Gay Edmonton than just a short trip, this is a great place to be familiar with.
Hideout Distro -- A funky general store that curates a collection of goods by independent artists, designers, and musicians from Edmonton and elsewhere. Their flagship brick and mortar store is tucked in the vibrant 124th Street District, straddling the quaint-but-central Westmount and Oliver neighborhoods, so when you are done, don’t forget to explore the slew of awesome independent cafes, restaurants, and shops nearby.
The Traveling Tickle Trunk -- Not your typical sex toy store! This very queer-friendly space strives to create an atmosphere of comfort and fun where you can ask a\ your questions and get help choosing the right toy, but the team here is just as happy to let you explore on your own if that’s what you prefer. The store is bright, open, and operated by friendly, knowledgeable staff, and on the shelves, you will find a working demonstration model of every product sold.
Adara -- A progressive, green-minded salon. Make an appointment to meet with their highly trained and exceedingly creative stylists who are dedicated to providing you with a relaxing experience where you leave feeling rejuvenated and radiant. Offering everything from precision cutting to a Hollywood balayage, to bold colors and stunning updos, or even those much-needed waxing and manicure appointments -- it can be found here. The salon is not only great for the environment but has been trained by Edmonton Pride Center and received official LGBTQ Safe Space Training. They adhere to one standard of beauty -- yours.
Edmonton Vocal Minority -- A unique voice in Edmonton’s musical and queer community. EVM is a non-auditioned, mixed-voice choir celebrating the rich culture and history of the local queer community while championing equality and embracing the diversity of all people regardless of sexual orientation.
Quiltbag -- An explicitly LGBTQ+ retail shop carrying queer & trans wares in Edmonton AB space where people could gather, host events, share art, and find new items to help express themselves. The shop carries an always-changing assortment of new and used rainbow pride clothing, accessories like pins, pronoun buttons, patches, stickers; art by local artists; small gifts; and trans gear including chest binders and compression underwear. Run by queer folks with a lot of love for Edmonton and a desire to contribute positively to the lives of others who live here.
Edmonton Pride -- The first pride celebration in Edmonton was held in 1980, and became a weeklong festival in 1983. It has since developed over time and now endeavors to unify and educate by celebrating gender and sexual diversity through a sustainable annual festival and year-round community outreach. In 2018, law enforcement and military members were dis-invited from the parade due to protests from some in the local community. Following this in 2019, Edmonton Pride did not take place due to security issues posed by the lack of police presence, among other issues and concerns in the local queer community. It is profoundly disappointing to see such division result in the loss of Pride in Edmonton, and we hope a resolution is found, and Pride can return soon. Because every city needs and deserves a gay pride festival!
Being a very liberal country when it comes to sexuality, almost every hotel and hostel in Edmonton can be considered open to LGBT guests.
Being gay-friendly is about creating an environment of inclusiveness, where all people are treated equally, and diversity is welcomed and respected. Elegant design, helpful staff, and excellent value for money never hurt anyone, though! You won’t have to hide your same-sex relationship or sexuality when you check-in at any of these fabulous hotels -- but obviously you don’t have to declare it either.
Some hotels in Edmonton have been actively courting queer adventurers and have gone above and beyond in recognizing the LGBT community. With a stay here you’ll also be around like-minded people, including the staff, so you can relax and enjoy your trip. Given the popularity of these hotels with gay travelers, we would say their efforts have paid off -- and these are also the hotels we have chosen to include in our gay Edmonton guide.
While there are no exclusively gay hotels in Edmonton, any hotel in the downtown of Edmonton near queer and queer-friendly nightlife options is sure to have more than a few gay guests staying. Plus, being a stumble home from wherever the night takes you is always pretty desirable. Otherwise, we recommend finding a hotel that is as central as possible to minimize travel time during the day or to the best nightlife spots after dark.
There are hundreds of other good hotel options in Edmonton if you don’t find what you are looking for, but we are confident you’ll find something here for you. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap place to crash after a night of partying or a chic designer option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Edmonton as something for everyone!
JW Marriott ☆☆☆☆☆ -- Feel the embrace of Edmonton’s new energy at the only modern, luxury hotel in Alberta with a premier downtown location. This contemporary, chic hotel makes it easy for guests to get caught up in the excitement of the area. Still, after enjoying the local attractions, you’ll quickly be tempted back to relax in your lavish hotel accommodations with modern decor and plush bedding. There is a wonderfully indulgent handcrafted libations at their onsite lounge and bar and an incredible restraint serving dry-aged steaks and fresh seafood. Completing the appeal is a state-of-the-art fitness studio and glamourous indoor pool.
Fairmont Hotel MacDonald ☆☆☆☆ -- A unrivaled luxury hotel that, for more than a century, has delivered enduring elegance and charm. Boasting classic style and timeless grace, each of their 198 classically-designed guestrooms, including specialty suites, are tastefully adorned with the most exceptional amenities. A landmark stay never to be forgotten, there is also an upscale restaurant, indoor pool, gym, spa, and more waiting to be discovered -- all in one of the city’s most sought after locations with unparalleled views of North America’s largest expanse of urban parkland.
Union Bank Inn ☆☆☆☆ -- A premier boutique hotel in downtown Edmonton located within the historic Union Bank of Canada Building. Utterly romantic, this is one of our favorite places to experience lavish accommodations, elegant fine dining, attentive service, and guaranteed luxury and comfort.
Matrix Hotel ☆☆☆☆ -- A modern lifestyle and design hotel, naturally inspired, and focused on creating an environment where positive experiences are developed. Throughout the hotel, modern décor blends clean, minimalist lines with sleek and textural natural stone and wood for a stunning and soothing atmosphere. This is what total relaxation feels like -- and if that isn’t enough to help you slow down and enjoy life, the complimentary daily hot breakfast and evening wine tasting will surely get you there — sophisticated, contemporary, and oh-so-chic.
HI Edmonton ☆☆-- A great urban hostel located where the fun is in Edmonton’s historic Old Strathcona neighborhood. There are shared dorm rooms and affordable privates for those on a budget. Wonderfully social, gay-friendly, and perfect for meeting other travelers to head out and explore Edmonton with. There is even a weekly movie night and mural walking tour and relaxing private garden and courtyard.
Crash Hotel ☆☆☆ -- Probably the coolest hotel in town where no two rooms are ever the same. Vintage yet contemporary, corporate with an edge. The kind of place where you can host a party in your suite on the weekend and the staff won’t even blink an eye. They even offer you a 10% discount at the onsite full-service liquor store. This place is one of a kind – located in the heart of the action and so close to the cities best nightlife. There is even a thrift shop themed club, energetic lobby bar, and ultra-cool, underground lounge. Whether you’re interested in a sexy and provocative evening of burlesque, insane House music, or contemporary Top 40 songs -- chances are you’ll find it here.
Gay & Gay-Friendly Nightlife in Edmonton
Edmonton isn’t exactly well-known for its wild nightlife that goes until sunrise, but in our experience, there were plenty of options for us to chose from as the sun faded away, and the moon begins sliding into the sky. Fancy cocktails, chilled drinks, live performances, and all-night dancing are each on offer.
Edmonton has a fabulous selection of gay-friendly venues to tempt you out, but only one specific queer club. A sign of the changing times as gay nightlife seems to be shifting to pop-up parties and queer take-over events. Many locals preferred to plan their nights around music, DJs and drink specials rather than the sexual orientation of the crowd. We still think there is something special about queer spaces and that to lose them ultimately would also be a devastating blow to our community.
Besides, who wouldn’t want to party the night away with our fabulous queer global family? We are just more fun, after all. Regardless, after dark adventurers should feel safe in most establishments in this open-minded city -- so we would encourage you to mix, mingle and dip your toes into a variety of venues (gay or straight) to find the best for you!
Evolution Wonderlounge -- The only gay club in Edmonton serving the LGBTQ community year-round and providing a fun space for cocktails and conversations or energetic partying later at night. In addition to great dance floors on Friday and Saturday, Evo (as locals affectionately refer to it) is home to trivia nights, karaoke, comedy and poetry nights, They are also well-known for their regular drag/burlesque line-ups and have hosted many RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni. Check out the events calendar for details on upcoming shows and head out to support the backbone of the Edmonton gay scene that has given back literally thousands of dollars back into the community, charities, and other initiatives over the years. We all need to work hard to keep queer spaces alive around the world, though thankfully, in this case, Evolution Wonderlounge is so vivacious and addictive -- it would be hard not to support it!
Fruit Loop -- A fabulous group dedicated to providing creative queer events and showcasing local talent and culture. Fruit Loop is designed to be more than just a typical night out, with each event being utterly unique and the proceeds from each being reinvested back into a variety of GLBTQ+ community programs and initiatives. Who doesn’t love to party for a good cause! A giant rainbow with multiple colors. Fruit Loop is open to adults of every race, religion, sex, ethnic origin, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Taking place generally once a month around various venues in Edmonton -- we cannot predict what they will do next, but know it will be full of fun, fabulous, and fruity people. And that you will absolutely not be disappointed.
Sewing Machine Factory -- A live music venue and arts space in Mill Creeks, Edmonton that hosts an eclectic variety of music and comedy shows. Always queer-friendly and frequently queer-popular thanks to its cool artsy vibes and willingness to try out any event, including those aimed at the LGBT+ community. Check out their upcoming events and support a cutesy venue where independent people are doing independent things.
Yellowhead Brewery -- An locally owned microbrewery that actively engages with local small businesses, arts, and cultural organizations. They also have a sizable queer following. Their tasting room is open Thursday through Saturday, where they offer all their brews on tap as well as in house-smoked meat sandwiches.
The Empress Ale House -- A neighborhood late-night tavern tempting loyal patrons back time and time again with draft brews, fun cocktails, expansive patio seating, and a regular line up of live music. On the last Thursday of the month, the Empress holds a popular event called Beers for Queers, which generally has a line to get in after about 9 pm, so arrive early. An excellent alternative for those who are more attracted to indie chilled vibes over thumping club music.
Bohemia -- An arts-themed performance venue that offers diverse live music alongside a well-stocked bar of local brews. Rather chameleon-like, it can be calm, relaxing, quiet, and intimate, or it can be loud, vibrant, and unpredictable, depending on the event of the night.
The Chvrch of John -- A happening club space for everything from cocktails and comedy to live music, twirling divas, and sultry burlesque. We were living for the dark underground vibes and diverse acts brought into this intimate space -- and later at night is the best place in Edmonton for anyone passionate about electronic dance music.
Black Dog Free House -- An animated bar with affordable drinks, light bites, mood-setting DJs, and a fabulous rooftop garden patio. A relaxed place where young and old, suits and shorts, gay and straight can relax and enjoy themselves free from the stigmas attached to most bars. There is a happy hour from 2 pm to 7 pm Monday to Saturday and daily drink specials listed on their website. Every long weekend they put on a Sunday night queer dance party on their rooftop, which is generally worth attending.
Have Mercy Food + Booze -- An eclectic and literal “hole in the wall” spot known for its imaginative Southern comfort food, intriguing cocktails and unusual roster of events. Live bands, piano karaoke, gospel brunch, talent nights, drag shows, and burlesque. Their events are as diverse as their patrons, and there is almost always something going on. For queer travelers, we particularly recommend their weekly rotation of Gospel Brunch, Burlesque Brunch, Drag Brunch, and Sunday Spins. Oh -- and all their food is priced at $7.95. What’s not to love?
Gay Sauna And Cruise Clubs in Gay Edmonton
Had enough of gay cruising in Edmonton – either in the bars or elsewhere? Why not explore the steamier side of this sexy town…
While French-Canadians in Montreal and Quebec City seem to have bucked the trend of closing bathhouses and gay cruising spaces, Edmonton has followed in the footsteps of other North American cities like Atlanta, Washington DC, Portland, Boston. As a result, there is only one such gay cruising space left in town. Still, it will probably not disappoint you -- unlikely all those faceless accounts on Grindr or the other hook up apps.
In such a foreign-friendly city -- and country -- you should have no issues visiting the Edmonton gay sauna and will be welcomed openly, as in the rest of the scene here. You can read our guide, however, if you are nervous about visiting a gay sauna for the first time. So that you know what to expect.
Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in while traveling, you should bring your own condoms and lube to play it safe. Take home a hot guy or a hot memory, not an STD.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you...
SteamWorks Edmonton -- The only gay bathhouse in Edmonton serving Northern Alberta’s gay and bisexual men-seeking-men community with pride since 2003! More recently they have introduced a popular co-ed policy from Sunday to Tuesdays where women are invited to join in on the fun -- which, naturally, attracts more bi & straight men too! Check their other weekly events to ensure the crowds match your desires. Conveniently located on the iconic Jasper Avenue in West Downtown and open 24/7 every single day of the year. Inside, you will find multiple levels of fun with single and double rooms, slings, lockers, a relaxing lounge, glory holes, hot tub, steam rooms, showers, and dry sauna. There is also a public playroom and toys for sale. Not affiliated with the famous Steamworks Baths chain found in Toronto, Seattle, Vancouver, and Chicago.
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your global rainbow family and don't forget to share your best gay stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...We'd love to hear from you!