Ottawa’s Capital Pride Festival has grown a lot since its inauguration in 1986, when about 50 people gathered at Strathcona Park and held a picnic amid colourful pink balloons.This year’s eight-day edition of the festival, which officially kicks off with a drag brunch on Sunday, will include flag-raising ceremonies, films, workshops, drag shows, concerts, a block party and the ever-popular parade.And, of course, a picnic.According to festival director Toby Whitfield, about 80 events will be taking place. Fifteen of those, dubbed Signature events, are organized and staged by Capital Pride. The roughly 65 remaining events are ones organized and hosted by community groups, libraries, galleries, businesses, restaurants and the like, and all presented under the festival’s umbrella.This year, Whitfield says, is an important one for Pride movements in Canada and elsewhere. For one, it marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, a violent uprising of the 2SLGBTQ+ community considered a watershed event for the movement. This year’s month-long World Pride festival was held in New York in June to honour the memory.“In Canada, it’s also been 50 years since the government partially decriminalized homosexuality, so we’re encouraging people to use the festival to reflect on where we’ve come and the progress made over the last 50 years, but also we recognize that there’s still work to be done, whether it’s locally or globally, to ensure that all people are protected and free of persecution, and, really, are able to love who they love.”Whitfield adds that the task of balancing the festival’s party aspect with a reflective side — the theme of this year’s festival is In the Spotlight — was an important one for organizers.“We want to have spaces to bring people together to celebrate, but also to talk about and reflect upon what’s happening in the moment and what’s happened historically.” To the latter, the festival is including a speaker series and its annual human rights vigil, both at the NAC’s 4th Stage.“Pride is a celebration, it’s rooted in protest, and it’s a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And that really is a unique thing about a pride celebration and festival. It’s a lot of different things to different people.”These are the festival’s Signature events:Drag brunchSun. Aug. 18, 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.Canadian Museum of Nature$45Family picnicSun. Aug. 18, 2-5 p.m.Hintonburg ParkFreePride flag raising(s)Mon. Aug. 19Gatineau city hall (10 a.m.), Ottawa City Hall (noon)FreeClothing swap (25 and under)Mon. Aug. 19, 4-8 p.m.Alt HotelFreeCapital Pride Speaker Series, with Tiq MilanTues. Aug. 20, 6:30 p.m.NAC 4th StageFreeHuman rights vigilTues. Aug. 20, 8 p.m.NAC 4th StageFreeTD block partyWed. Aug. 21, 6-9 p.m.Aberdeen Square, Lansdowne ParkFreeYouth art showcaseWed. Aug. 21, 5-8 p.m.Ottawa Art GalleryFreeCapital Pride pageantThurs. Aug. 22, 7:30-10 p.m. (doors open 6:45)Delta City Center Hotel$27.50Pride promFri. Aug. 23, 7:30-11:30 p.m.Sandy Hill Community CentreFreeNature Nocturne: Bursting with PrideFri. Aug. 23, 8 p.m. — midnightMuseum of Nature$25Street fairFri. and Sat. Aug. 24 and 25, 12-8 p.m.Bank and Somerset streetsFreeMain stageSat. Aug. 24, 2-11 p.m., Bank and Somerset streetsT-Dance DJs (2-5 p.m.); Drag show extravaganza (5-7:30 p.m.); Evening show (7:30-11 p.m.)Sun. Aug. 25, 2-10 p.m., Bank and Somerset streets(performers, DJs, drag kings and queens, burlesque and more)FreeCapital Pride paradeSun. Aug. 25, starts at 1:30 p.m. at Bank Street and Gladstone AvenueFreeFamily prideSun. Aug. 25, 2-6 p.m.Dundonald ParkFreeVisit capitalpride.ca for more details.