Toronto’s pride celebration gets underway on Friday, June 19 and culminates in a huge parade & festival on Sunday, June 28. GayTravel grabbed a few minutes with Tracey Sandilands, who is originally from South Africa, where she served as organizer for pride events in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Sandilands is now executive director of Pride Toronto and she gave us the lowdown on what’s coming up this weekend.GT: You are new to Toronto Pride this year. Can you tell us a little about Pride in South Africa vs. Toronto? Similarities, differences?TS: South Africa has two fairly large Pride festivals, in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Cape Town’s festival has been running since 2002 and gets around 5000 attendees, it’s a ten days festival like ours. Johannesburg is in its 19th year and gets up to 15,000 people on the day of the parade. Both festivals have strong human rights programs like Toronto does.GT: How many attendees do you anticipate at this year’s festival?TS: We hope the 1.5 million that came last year will come again… and a few more!GT: In your opinion, what is the biggest event at Toronto Pride?TS: The festival weekend is one big event that lasts from Friday night to Sunday night and has eight stages of entertainment all weekend long. (That weekend is June 26-28.)GT. What’s new this year?TS: Our ladies’ golf day on June 25th, and a human rights event with Queer Peers in the West End on June 23rd.GT: What can a first-time visitor to Toronto Pride expect? Any tips for him/her?TS: Bring sunscreen, a hat or visor, your ID and be prepared to party all weekend! Woohoo!

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