invite yourself to saskatoon | OUTVisions for LGBT Professionals

invite yourself to saskatoon

time for a new adventure

invite yourself to saskatoon
melinda cheevers

As winter shifts into spring and signs of life emerge from beneath the sheets of snow that have covered the ground across much of Canada, there’s no better time to go on a new adventure. The change of season brings with it a (much needed) renewed energy that can be used to explore a new area. There’s no better place to check out than Saskatoon, self-described as a “place of invitation”.

Situated on the edge of nature, with big skies, flowing river and lots of green space, some may be surprised to hear that Saskatoon is the largest city in the province of Saskatchewan.

It narrowly beats out the province’s capital, Regina, in terms of population. Despite being the largest city, it still maintains a small-town homey feel to it while offering all the amenities people would expect from a large city. There’s shopping and nightlife, culture and lots of history for visitors to explore.

Danny Papadatos, Mr. Gay Canada and a spokesperson for Tourism Saskatoon, says it’s a city with a growing population and a bustling downtown area.

“There’s a fun vibrant feel to the city,” he said, adding more and more young entrepreneurs are moving to the city to set up shop and as a result there’s a great dining and shopping scene as well as many arts opportunities.

“We have something for everyone,” he said, pointing to the many nature parks and trails and big city attractions like theatres and concert venues.

Papadatos is particularly proud of the growing success of the Saskatoon Diversity Network – a volunteer-driven organization serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, two-spirit, queer and questioning community as well as their family and supporters. A particular point of pride for Papadatos is the city’s growing Pride festival. Incorporated in 2002, the festival attracted crowds of more than 3,500 people last year. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever, he said.

“It’s one party you don’t want to miss,” he promises.

Here’s a rundown of the various attractions Saskatoon has to offer:

Growing Pride

Attracting bigger and bigger crowds each year, Saskatoon’s Pride Festival is the must-attend event of the summer. It only makes sense that the largest city in the province would host the largest pride event too. Taking place June 15 to 21, Saskatoon Pride is jam-packed full of activities including queer cinema and music events, a pride parade and rally, community fair, beer gardens, a flotilla event on the river and lots of parties. The week caps off with a concert at Credit Union Centre featuring musical icons Cher and Cindy Lauper. Check

Go play outside

With 200 parks throughout the city, there is nearly 1,000 hectares of parkland to explore. Hike along the Meewasin Valley Trail or slap on some cross-country skis or snow shoes and rather than letting the snow slow you down, embrace it! Once the snow melts, hit one of the region’s many award-winning golf courses – rated among the best in Canada. 

Grab a bite

All of that hiking and exercise can really help you build up an appetite, thankfully Saskatoon boasts one of the highest number of restaurants per capita so finding a place to dine shouldn’t be a problem. Papadatos notes that the city has a bustling restaurant scene, offering up a diverse menu of styles and tastes. Locally sourced ingredients have become a staple on many tables, offering up farm-to-fork fare that’s mouthwatering delicious.

Catch a show

Watch stories come to life right before your eyes at one of the area’s theatre houses. From hit Broadway shows staged at TCU Place to community-produced offerings at The Barn Playhouse, The Refinery or the Remai Arts Centre – there’s something for everyone’s tastes. Fans of French theatre can check out a play by La Troupe du Jour theatre company. Fans of arena concerts can take in big name acts like City and Colour, Cher, Blake Shelton, Bruno Mars or Katy Perry at the Credit Union Centre.

Take a picture

Saskatoon’s Broadway Avenue earned the title of top Great Street in Canada in the 2011 Great Places in Canada contest – what better place to snap some photos? If streetscapes aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options for budding photographers including natural scenery at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area or along the South Saskatchewan River, capture some history at Wanuskewin Heritage Park or a slice of life at one of the many festivals and events held in the city throughout the year.

Get festive

Speaking of those festivals and major events, Saskatoon plays host to more than 65 of them annually and 2014 is no different. The SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival returns June 20-29, offering up great live jazz music at various venues throughout the city. It’s a nice way not only to check out fantastic musicians but to see the city as well. Other summer festivals include the Saskatoon Reggae and World Music Festival on July 12 and the PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival taking place in the Broadway District July 31-August 9.

Celebrate the heritage

The Saskatoon area has been inhabited for more than 6,000 years and the Wanuskewin Heritage Park is a great place to explore some of that history. Within the valley, there are 19 pre-contact sites and two historic sites, making it one of the longest running active archaeological sites in Canada. Delve into the past and discover what life was like for the nomadic tribes. Active participation of the Saskatchewan Indian people brings added meaning to the use of the sites and interpretive programming.

To learn more about Saskatoon and everything the city has to offer, visit

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Authormelinda cheevers

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