This year sees Manchester Pride turn 24. Since its village fete style inception in 1991, the annual centrepiece to the Manchester calendar has become a behemoth event, taking over the city for the August Bank Holiday each year.
Its point is to celebrate the diversity of the communities in the city, focusing on “empowerment, participation, representation, access and celebration”. Created by the LGBT community, it has become an all-embracing family friendly event, designed to welcome everyone through its gates, regardless of race, religion or sexuality. The point of any Pride event is tolerance and acceptance and it subsequently encourages into the light of day the kind of spectacles that you would never normally see walking the streets. Yes, the weekend is a fun-filled weekend of partying, but half of its charm is the people-watching. Whether you want to see giant gender-neutral drag spectaculars, gliding by on stilts, or the leather-clad, muscle-bound, hyper-masculinised and moustachioed bikers, you’llbe wowed by the vast array of characters you see walking the streets. “Pride” here means more than just toward sexuality; this is about pride in individuality, celebrating diversity – something that has become a central tenet in British culture today.
Unlike other similar events, Manchester Pride has a real festival feel to it. When your mother used to tell you to stop watching TV and get some fresh air, I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean this… but the outdoor enclosure holds stages, stalls and beer tents, all sitting alongside the usual normal day-to-day venues of The Village. Last year saw the debut of a vast dance arena and each year, every inch of available space is utilised for the revellers. On the one hand it’s a four day endurance test, with so much happening and so much going on that you have to pace yourself to squeeze it all in; on the other, it provides constant opportunities to just kick back, let your hair down and enjoy the unique hilarity of it all.
The last decade has seen the gargantuan rise of the music festival, but while Manchester Pride often has the same feel as these, its urban locale sets it apart. One minute you’ll be dancing with a plastic pint of beer in a make-shift dance tent, the next you’ll be stumbling through the gate and into the middle of the city streets again. And the atmosphere extends far beyond the limits of the enclosure. With flags flying the whole city over, the parade snaking through the entire city centre and club events occurring all over the city, Manchester Pride encourages anyone and everyone to have fun and join the party.
Whether you want to watch the plethora of performers on the main stage each day, or soak up the atmosphere on Canal Street itself, come rain or shine The Village will play host to a feast for all the senses. But whatever you do, make sure you don’t burn out too early – the Big Weekend is like a long-distance run, not a sprint to the finish-line.
Here at A we look forward to future collaborations with Manchester Pride.