Over the past four decades, Pride events in Britain have evolved from small, brave affairs into huge, significant celebrations with thousands of people enjoying the colourful carnival atmosphere.
Britain’s first Gay Pride march was held in London in 1972, the first to take place outside the United States. This was followed one week later by a Pride event in Birmingham in the West Midlands, Britain’s second largest city. Not only is Birmingham Pride one of Britain’s original and pioneering pride events, it’s also one of the first dates in the Pride calendar, taking place annually over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend in May each year – so it’s the perfect start to Pride Season! Many other Pride events are held throughout the summer in cities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Here are just some of them:
PRIDE IN BIRMINGHAM, 28 – 29 MAY 2016
What to expect: Since a relaunch in 1997, Birmingham Pride marks its 20th edition in 2016 with a weekend-long festival in the city’s gay village. The theme for 2016, “A Generation of Pride”, will see Birmingham Pride honour the pivotal achievements of Britain’s LGBT community over the last 20 years – and there’s plenty to celebrate! The event also celebrates the growth of Birmingham’s gay scene in the past 20 years.
Taking place over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, there’ll be a carnival parade through Birmingham city centre. In the gay village around Hurst Street will be a Main Stage, Dance Arena, Cabaret Marquee and Women’s Arena – altogether featuring over 100 artists and DJ’s. There’ll also be a temporary village green with street stalls, entertainments and funfair rides. www.birminghampride.com
Where to stay: Hotel group Ibis have three affordable options located just minutes from the gay village: Ibis Birmingham New Street, Ibis Birmingham Irving Street and Ibis Budget Birmingham Centre. For a dash more panache for your cash, check into gay-friendly Bloc Hotel in the city’s Jewellery Quarter. www.ibis.com; www.blochotels.com
Where is it? Birmingham is in the West Midlands, 90 minutes north-west of London by train.
PRIDE IN LONDON, 25 JUNE 2016
What to expect: The mother of all pride events in Britain, and the biggest day in London’s LGBT calendar, is the annual Pride in London parade and street party. Comprising hundreds of community groups, student unions, charities and campaigners, the massive parade sashays by major landmarks including Downing Street, the home of Britain’s Prime Minister. There’s also a street party with performance stages and community stalls throughout Soho in central London. www.prideinlondon.org
Where to stay: The former home of 18th-century writer William Hazlitt is now an intimate boutique property. Despite its proximity to Soho’s unbridled gay scene, Hazlitt’s Hotel retains the restrained ambience of a private gentleman’s club. Owners Peter and Douglas were personally involved in the design of each of the 30 guestrooms, and their passion for antiques and traditional craftsmanship shows throughout. www.furtherafield.com/hazlitts-soho-london
BRISTOL PRIDE, 1-10 JULY 2016
What to expect: The highlight of this 10-day cultural celebration is Bristol Pride Day itself (Saturday 9 July), featuring local and international talent on the main stage in Castle Park, plus a cabaret stage and community area. Celebrations continue at The O2 Academy, the official Pride After Party Venue – in 2015 this included a headline DJ set from The Freemasons, plus performances from Circomedia, Bristol’s school for contemporary circus, and the trannies and club kids of infamous party collective, Sink The Pink. Bristol also hosted the inaugural UK Leather Pride in November 2015, which is set to return in 2016. www.bristolpride.co.uk
Where to stay: Clifton Hotels were Bristol Pride’s Hotel Partner for 2015. With four properties in the city, choices range from the popular and affordable Clifton Hotel to the group’s flagship Berkeley Square Hotel, a stylish four-star boutique option occupying a fine Georgian building. www.cliftonhotels.com
Where is it? Bristol is in south-west England, one hour and 45 minutes west of London by train.
BELFAST PRIDE, 29 JULY – 7 AUGUST 2016
What to expect: Ireland’s largest LGBT festival, Belfast Pride, is a week of rainbow-hued celebrations. Last year’s 25th anniversary edition attracted over 50,000 people and comprised over 100 events – and they have even bigger plans for 2016. Highlights include the Pride Parade (Saturday 6 August), extending from the gay neighbourhood around Union Street and Donegall Street, all the way to City Hall, then back again for a massive street party. www.belfastpride.com
Where to stay: The closest hotel to Belfast’s gay venues is Premier Inn Belfast (Cathedral Quarter). This 3-star hotel has 171 simple, modern rooms, plus a bar and restaurant. Thanks to its affordability and proximity to the gay scene, it’s popular with LGBT visitors. It’s also one of Belfast’s top-ranking hotels on TripAdvisor. www.premierinn.com
Where is it? Belfast is in Northern Ireland, 80 minutes by plane from London.
LIVERPOOL PRIDE, 30 & 31 JULY 2016
What to expect: Following a change in format, Liverpool Pride returned to its community roots in 2015 with an event focused around its Pride march, encouraging the LGBT community to stand against homophobia and transphobia. Gay venues in the city’s Stanley Street Quarter supported this with a celebratory programme of parties and activities including music, dance and film. www.liverpoolpride.co.uk
Where to stay: An event sponsor in 2015, Liverpool Marriott Hotel City Centre is a modern four-star hotel in the heart of Liverpool’s cultural district. There are 146 rooms, plus full leisure facilities with gym, indoor swimming pool, steam room, sauna and spa. www.marriott.co.uk
Where is it? Liverpool is in north-west England, two and a half hours north-west of London by train.
BRIGHTON PRIDE, 6 & 7 AUGUST 2016
What to expect: Widely recognized as Britain’s biggest Pride festival, Brighton Pride celebrated its 25th incarnation in 2015. With a theme of “Uniting Nations”, this year’s 26th edition will commence with the Pride Community Parade, a dazzling spectacle that sees Brighton’s diverse community take to the streets in a show of unity and equality. The Pride Festival in Preston Park features main stage entertainment, dance tents, cabaret, a funfair, a family area, and a market and community village. Inaugurated in 2014, Pride Village Party keeps the celebrations going throughout Saturday and Sunday on the streets of Kemp Town, Brighton’s gay village – everyone with a Pledge Wristband gains access to this exciting new addition. Brighton Pride is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, and the purchase of wristbands includes a donation to the Rainbow Fund, a grant-giving fund for local LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations. www.brighton-pride.org
Where to stay: The four-star seafront Hilton Brighton Metropole returns for another year as Official Hotel Partner, offering special Pride Weekend VIP packages. After a successful first year in 2015, Brighton Pride will once again run its own campsite, Camp Camp Pride Campsite. New for 2016, Brighton Pride has teamed up with stylish boutique hostel YHA Brighton to provide dormitory-style accommodation. So there’s something for every taste and budget. www.brighton-pride.org/pride-accommodation
Where is it? Brighton is on the south coast of England, one hour south of London by train.
PRIDE CYMRU, 13 AUGUST 2016
What to expect: Proudly embracing its new Welsh name, Pride Cymru starts with a colourful city centre parade – a visual celebration of Welsh diversity. The biggest LGBT event in Wales then heads to Cooper’s Field, a vast park in the centre of Cardiff, for a fabulous afternoon of pride festivities. As night approaches, gay venue Pulse will hold its annual street party – the perfect end to a perfect Welsh pride. www.pridecymru.co.uk
Where to stay: Welsh for “pink house”, Ty Rosa is Cardiff’s only gay boutique bed and breakfast. Its friendly, openly-gay attitude has earned accolades from TripAdvisor. There are five homely guestrooms in the main house, each named after Welsh castles, plus an annex apartment. It’s located a 15-minute walk south of Cardiff city centre – hosts Paul and Stuart will point you in the right direction! www.tyrosa.com
Where is it? Cardiff is in south Wales, three hours west of London by train.
PRIDE GLASGOW, 20 & 21 AUGUST 2016
What to expect: Scotland’s largest LGBT Pride Festival, Pride Glasgow is a two-day event held annually in August. The parade is a colourful rainbow display, and inevitably includes some sexy kilt-clad Scotsmen. Taking place on Glasgow Green, the party has in previous years welcomed big-name pop acts onto its main stage, including Scottish band Texas and boyband Union J. A new area created for 2016, the Village Square will be home to community aspects of the festival, including a community expo and family-friendly village green. There’ll also be a Pride Dog Show. www.pride.scot
Where to stay: 15Glasgow is a gay-friendly B&B in a restful residential neighbourhood. This Victorian townhouse has five large guest suites with an abundance of architectural features. www.furtherafield.com/15-glasgow-scotland
Where is it? Glasgow is in Scotland, four and a half hours north of London by train.
MANCHESTER PRIDE, BIG WEEKEND, 26-29 AUGUST 2016
What to expect: Having celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015, Manchester Pride goes from strength to strength. A registered charity, the event raises money for LGBT and HIV/AIDS projects in the region. The month-long Pride Fringe celebrates diversity through art, culture, music and comedy. This leads to the Big Weekend, a four-day festival with a proud programme of LGBT events, parties and headline acts. One highlight is the vibrant Manchester Pride Parade on the Saturday, while the weekend cumulates with the George House Trust Candlelit Vigil, a poignant tribute to those who’ve died of HIV. www.manchesterpride.com
Where to stay: Ranging from the affordable three-star Pendulum Hotel to the luxury five-star Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel – a favourite with guests such as Kylie, Beyoncé and George Michael. They also offer an exclusive 10% LGBT discount at the stylish ABode Manchester hotel. www.visitmanchester.com/articles/top-5s/top-5-gay-friendly-places-to-stay
Where is it? Manchester is in north-west England, two hours and 15 minutes north of London by train.
For more information contact: VisitBritain