Preview: Manchester Pride 2014

Adam Lowe

Pride is a key event in many gay men’s diaries. Last year we sent Adam Lowe to report on Manchester Pride, one of the country’s most popular and most successful pride events.

A month of arts, entertainment and culture

Manchester Pride Fringe is a month-long festival, although it supports great causes and charities throughout the year.

Pride Fringe includes everything from theatre  to film, debates to poetry.

Families are welcome, with the LGBT Family Fun Day and the Pink Dog Show offering something for everyone.

The parade

Queer visibility comes to a head in the annual parade, which forms the backbone of the festival. The usual smattering of soapstars and gay icons are always present, along with floats that ranged from the colourful to the political. Despite the constant threat of rain in Manchester, the turnout last year was strong, proving once again the popularity of the parade not only as a celebration but as a march for equality—and a reminder that we’re still here and most definitely still queer.

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As with many of the fringe events, the parade was free, and its route passed outside the barriers so that a wristband for the Big Weekend site wasn’t needed.

The Big Weekend

Perhaps the main draw for many scene queens and club kids, the Big Weekend is only one part of Manchester Pride’s ambitious programme.

The Big Weekend, of course, is also the touchiest part of Pride, with its £20+ price-tag for tickets on the day. But for this price (and less if you buy in advance) you get access to the main arena, Sackville Gardens, the lifestyle expo, Village markets and dance arena. There have been celebrities such as MKS and Kelis gracing the stage in recent years – so The Big Weekender is always a big crowd-pleaser.

Meanwhile, there is always plenty of booze, some solid festival grub and always a little glimmer of sunshine. While the rain can sometimes force revellers indoors, it never dampens their spirits. Night-times, of course, are always popular, with venues going all out to put on their very best and the party-goers attending in force.

The Vigil

If the parade is the backbone of Pride, and The Big Weekend is its commercial face, the George House Trust Candlelit Vigil is its spiritual heart. A sea of tiny flames lit up the evening, in memory of those who fought and those who are still fighting against HIV at the memorial in Sackville Gardens. The mood at The Vigil is solemn but uplifting, as members of the LGBT community and those whose lives have been touched by the global pandemic come together to show their respects. This is often attendees’ favourite part or Pride.

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About Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people. He sometimes performs as Beyonce Holes.