Manchester Pride

Coming to the city to party at Pride? Just be sure to book your Manchester hotel in advance because this glitter-filled festival sees tourists descend here in their droves. This is one of the UK’s longest-running Prides - the annual event that celebrates all things lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender - and one of its finest, being voted best LGBT event in the UK by readers of the Pink Paper for five years running.

Even if you’re not lucky enough to be in town for the August bank holiday, there are arts, music and cultural events held all over the city in the ten days that lead up to it. But it all culminates in The Big Weekend - a huge, 72-hour party in Canal Street (also known as the Village) with a parade that shimmies through the streets of Manchester on the Saturday. You’ll need to buy a ticket to get into the Village, but watching the parade is free - and a must-see.

And to really make your Pride sparkle, why not book into a Premier Inn? Our nearest hotel to the Village, Manchester Piccadilly is in a great location whether you wanted to watch your favourite pop performers in the Village or just party at the Parade.

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Manchester Pride

Manchester Pride

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Manchester Pride

Manchester Pride

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What to expect

Never been to Manchester Pride before? With so much going on, you’ll need to plan ahead if you don’t want to miss anything.

Big Weekend
Starting on the Friday night of the August bank holiday weekend, the city's Village turns into one massive party zone - with a secure, gated entrance that you’ll need a wristband to get into. There are bars, pop-up stalls and three music stages. The Gaydio Dance Arena features top name DJs and dance acts from Faithless to Jeremy Healy. The Sackville Gardens Boutique Stage is the place to catch up-and-coming acts - and have a quick chill-out. On the Main Stage you’ll see whoever’s big in pop - past years have seen Mel C, Will Young and Sophie Ellis Bextor take to the stage. Just make sure you look at the flyers you get with your wristband and plan who you want to see. Popular acts draw big crowds so if there’s someone you’re desperate to see, get their early.

Pride Parade
The Pride parade has to be seen to be believed. A kaleidoscope of colour, this celebration of Manchester's diversity and tolerance is known for its lavish floats and incredible atmosphere. Pick a place on the route and get ready to cheer on the marchers - the parade usually starts on Liverpool Road at 12.30 on Saturday, marching onto Deansgate and Peter Street, towards Portland Street through the Village then down Whitworth Street to Fairfield Street. Not sure what to wear? Your outfit’s up to you, but check out the year’s theme for inspiration. Past years have included graduation (think cheerleaders and football stars), love and the 1980s. Look out for the cast of Coronation Street too. Stars of the much-loved soap have their own float each year.

Candlelit Vigil
Marking the end of the Big Weekend, the moving Candlelit Vigil takes place on Monday evening. Thought of as the spiritual heart of the Manchester Pride festival, it’s held each year to mark the end of the weekend and also to commemorate those lost to AIDS and HIV. For many, it’s the most important part of the weekend, and hundreds of people flood into Sackville Gardens, turning it into a sea of flickering candles. Providing a real sense of community, the centrepoint of the vigil is the much-visited Alan Turing memorial statue (built to honour the modern computing pioneer and gay icon) and previous years have seen the event opened by the Manchester Show Choir, who performed a spine-tingling rendition of Ariana Grande’s One Last Time.

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Essential information

Top tip
Get to the parade early to find a good spot - those at the front tend to get most of the fantastic freebies that are handed out from the passing floats.

Tickets cost around £18 per day for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but are cheaper for the Monday at under £12. Weekend tickets are priced at under £30 for adults and £9 for children.You need to exchange your tickets for wristbands when you get to the site - you can do that at several of the entrances to the Village. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult over 18.

What to bring
Don’t forget water, sun cream and those all-important tubes of glitter for top-ups. But don’t worry if you’ve forgotten anything vital as there is a market and shop on site and, because you’re in the city centre, nothing is too far away. The nearest cash points outside the event site are on the corner of Whitworth Street and Princess Street, and the corner of Portland Street and Sackville Street.

Efforts have been made so that Pride is accessible to all. There are viewing platforms in both the Main Stage Arena and Sackville Gardens stage so that wheelchair users can see above the crowds, available on a first-come-first-served basis. There are also a number of accessible toilets, including those located on Bloom Street opposite the Dance Arena, in the Main Stage Arena, Sackville Gardens and the Dance Arena itself.

Things to do near Manchester Pride
There’s only so much partying you can do so, if you fancy some downtime, why not have a look at what else Manchester has to offer?

Close to the Village you’ll find Manchester’s bohemian Northern Quarter. With its amazing street art and quirky independent shops, it’s great for a wander. Shopaholics should head to the world-famous Afflecks Palace - four floors of stalls by independent designers and the perfect place to find the finishing touches to your Pride outfit.

You’re also close to Manchester’s Chinatown. Stroll under its colourful arch and you’ll find yourself in a different world filled with exotic smells wafting from the area’s restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and casinos.

Eating and drinking
There are a number of restaurants within the Village eager to serve hungry and thirsty revellers - but expect to queue as the best ones will be packed. Hate queuing? You could always head out into the city centre to see what other tasty treats are on offer.

Had enough street food for one weekend? Head into the luxurious surroundings of Velvet. A Village favourite year-round, Velvet’s packed come Pride weekend. To cope with the sudden influx, it serves a special Pride menu, but don’t expect second-rate food. Everything from the big breakfasts to the evening pizzas (with tasty toppings like crispy duck and steak strips) is top-notch.

The Molly House
Tapas, cakes, burgers and an outstanding selection of gin, the Molly House does everything it can to make your Pride extra special. Shortlisted for Best Bar at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards, it provides a calm space in the middle of all the madness outside and also has its own tent just for the festival, where you can go on to have a boogie after you’ve eaten.

Almost Famous
While the burger chain does have a pop-up stall within the Village, if you fancy a seat, head to its Northern Quarter branch, just a ten-minute walk away. And there’s only one thing to order - the fabulous Pride-themed Rainbow Burger - two patties, bacon, cheese, fried onions and baconnaise sauce, all served in one seriously psychedelic-looking bagel. Not to be missed, for the photos alone!

Little Yang Sing
Just a stone’s throw from the Village, Manchester’s Chinatown is the third largest in Europe - and packed with places to eat. Most get full on Pride days, but fight your way through the crowds and head to this George Street favourite. Little Yang Sing wins rave reviews for its dim sum, sizzling beef and crispy duck. Service is quick and efficient too, so you won’t wait long, despite the masses.

Getting to Manchester Pride

By car
Driving to Pride? Head to the city centre, with M1 3HE in your sat nav. NCP offers festival-goers special discounts at their city-centre car parks, although it’s best to pre-book. For the parade, nearest car parks are at Great Northern 1 and 2, while Piccadilly Gardens and Palace car parks are nearest to the Village for the Big Weekend.

By bus or train
Take the train either to Manchester Piccadilly or Oxford Road, then walk from there. Both are no more than an eight-minute stroll away. Bus-wise, there’s a free bus service that serves the city centre all day. The buses start outside Piccadilly train station, but also serve other key areas such as Oxford Road, Deansgate and Spinningfields.

By tram
Pride wristband wearers can travel for free on Manchester’s Metrolink tram service during the August bank holiday weekend. This only applies to the City Zone - charges will still apply if you’re travelling into the city from further afield. It’s a popular way to travel to the event, so expect trams to be packed with revellers.

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