Pride weekend has officially arrived.

The festival mayhem gets into full gear with Starry Night at Cawthra Square Park in the heart of the village. This glitz and glam event features local celebrity bartenders and yours truly, shaking, stirring and mixing up cocktails and raising money for the 519 Community Centre. Board Chair Mathieu Chantelois and board member Nina Arsenault provide official host duties.

“We want everybody to take a break and spend some quality time before the craziness of Pride weekend begins,” says Chantelois. “The 519 is a meeting place for its diverse downtown communities. This weekend, having a cocktail with us will make a difference.”

Cawthra Square Park, 519 Church St.,,
416-392-6874, tonight at 8.

Also tonight, it’s basic training at Boot Camp. No, you won’t need to enlist, but you’ll need to be in army mode for this all-night dance party.

>> THE DETAILS: Kool Haus, 132 Queens Quay East,, 416-869-0045. At 10 p.m.

Tomorrow, women unite in the annual Dyke March led by Honoured Dyke Anna Willats and Honoured Group Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club.

>> THE DETAILS: Bloor and Church, south along Yonge Street to Wood Street at 2 p.m.

With three main stages along Church Street, there’s sure to be enough entertainment to please. Spice Girl Melanie C makes her Toronto Pride debut on the Wellesley Stage at 6 p.m tomorrow. The Hidden Cameras make their return to Church Street South Stage at 9 p.m.

There’s also plenty of musical talent throughout the day to keep you in tune. Dance club chart sensation Vernessa Mitchell, electric pop band Dragonette, ’80s pop group sensation The Parachute Club, and a cappella foursome Cadence are just some of the 100-plus performers on the day.

Sunday is the Pride Parade, with hundreds of thousdands of people expected to attend, including Honoured Group Friends for Like Bike Rally, international grand marshal Gareth Henry, and yours truly, the Pride grand marshal.

After the parade, there’s more music to delight, including chart-topper Jully Black, electric music band Jelo and Canadian Juno winner Billy Newton Davis, just to name a few.

Drag sensation RuPaul caps the weekend off at the official Pride closing party.

>> THE DETAILS: Circa Nightclub, 126 John St.,, 416-979-0444, Sunday at 10 p.m.

With events all weekend long, it’s a sure thing Pride 2008 will be one big gay party. Happy Pride Toronto!

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