August Bank Holiday weekend for many people living in or visiting Manchester means only one thing, Pride. The four-day celebration kicks off Friday 24th with famous names performing throughout the Gay Village ending with a Candle Lit Vigil on the evening Monday 27th August. Rita Ora, Sigala and Danny Howard are just some filling the canal with music until the early hours.
Since Europride came to the city in 2003, Manchester Pride has risen and remained one of the biggest in the UK and in recent years raising over £100k each year for its charity. This year will also mark the final year of the Big Weekend and the centre hub of the activities centred around Canal Street. Due to residential developments, next year’s event will be located in another area.
Although the main event will be the Big Weekend, many more events along with things to do and see will be taking place across the city for those wanting to celebrate their alliance or place in the LGBT community.
1.The Gypsy Shrine at Manchester Arndale
Glitter. Love it or loathe it, attending any Pride event will result in a storm of glitter leaving you sparkling for weeks. If you’re want to embrace the gems and sparkles and do it right, head to Topshop Manchester Arndale and meet the Queens of glitter masterpieces, The Gypsy Shrine. On August 23rd from 4-8pm, their head artist Lucy Hart (@Hartyyy) will be providing all the tips to complete the full glitter look. Learn how to master those full gem looks and glitter beards, FREE to attend and just in time to practice your look for the weekend.
2.Great Village Bake Off
The Great British Bake Off is returning to our screens the day evening after pride weekend ends, perfect timing to nurse some hangovers. If however you can’t wait until then for your cake fix make sure to attend Great Village Bake Off. Sadly Paul Hollywood won’t be found here but a baker’s worthy selection of homemade sweet treats and impressive show stoppers will be. Anyone can enter by signing up in advance and choosing their categories. Those fearful of a soggy bottom and not quite Mary Berry standard yet can choose to enter the beginner category. Throughout the event money raised will go towards funds needed for Manchester Pride.
3.Free Walking Tour
Manchester’s LGBT past can be hard to discover, so save the struggle of using Google Maps and take part in a Free Walking Tour. Follow local guides as they take you on foot around pinnacle locations in what has lead to making Manchester a world-renowned LGBT inclusive city. Amongst historical LGBT locations, the tour takes a look into other areas of Manchester’s past such as the Hacienda days, cotton trading, world wars and much more.
4.Penguin Pride comes to Manchester
Presented in partnership with Gay Time and The Manchester Literature Festival, Penguin Pride heads to Manchester. An inspired line-up of LGBT writers, poets and performers will take to the stage on August 23rd, hosted by award-winning poet Tony Campion.The line-up includes proud Mancunians and will showcase some of the brilliant queer talent Britain has on offer. £1 from all ticket sales will go towards the great work done by The Albert Kennedy Trust, a national LGBT youth homelessness charity.
5.LGBT Street Art
Instead of staring down, look up. Across Manchester, artists have been taking to the streets with their LGBT messages. As part of City and Hope in 2016, international artists transformed areas of the city with messages in their urban street styles. Artist Faith47 has taken over the side of a residential building in Ancoats with a piece dedicated to supporting the LGBT community. If you head to Molly House just off Canal Street you can discover a mural of five famous icons from the community. Covering the entirety of the outside building, the 2014 piece includes revolutionary feminist Emmeline Pankhurst, writer Quentin Crisp, scientist Alan Turing and legendary drag queens Anna Phylactic and Foo Foo Lammar. Around the corner from, perhaps one of the most famous pieces can be found. On the side of the New Union Hotel, a mural that fills Instagram is the comic-style Batman and Robin kissing.
6.Bee in the City
Running up until September 23rd, Bee in the City has made Manchester it’s hive and pollinated our streets with over 100 pieces of art. Each freestanding bee has been exclusively commissioned by an array of artists and each highlights a different aspect of our electric city. This is Manchester in Albert Square, The LGBT Queen Bee in Sackville Gardens, Bee a rainbow at Harvey Nichols all play a part in promoting Manchester’s inclusion, alliance and support for the LGBT community. Download the app, print out the map or wander around the city and discover these bees and much more.
If you take a closer look at the gold outlined bees around the city you may notice some of them have more buzz about them than others. BeeMancunion being the reason for these. An independent artist over the last three years has created a lasting impression by conveying Manchester known associations with the bees. He has personalised around 30 bees with symbols relating food, drink, sport and the LGBT community. The Bee Proud can be found on Canal Street, with around 8 located here you’ll be sure to spot them. BeeMancunion will also be on Charlton Street throughout the Big Weekend where you can buy your own bee to take away with you.
8.Visit Canal Street
A visit to Manchester to celebrate Pride without a visit to Canal Street is unheard of. The main attraction to some being 24/7 constant party vibe with every night of the week feeling like the weekend. G-A-Y, KIKI and VOID are just some of the many bars and clubs that are responsible for this. Many independent restaurants are also located along and around the canal bank, including No1 Canal Street, Velvet and Richmond Tearoom. As mentioned earlier, the village is a gem of street art and rainbow-infused bees ready to be captured for your latest Instagram post. Canal Street has also witnessed the repression and struggle of the gay community from secret after hour lock-ins to legalisation in 1967 to the gay marriage bill being passed. Research before you arrive and find the spots which have defined Manchester.
A rather colourful circus comes to town as this year’s Pride parade theme is “The Circus of Acceptance”. Stilt walkers, jugglers and trapeze artists are just some of the entertainers that will take to the streets on Saturday 25th August as the annual Gay Pride Parade tours through the town centre to end in the gay village. Open to anyone to take part in, expect floats from Manchester-based organisations, local charities and well-known brands. The parade, one of the biggest and most successful in the UK, is an opportunity to showcase issues that are still faced by many LGBT groups and individuals and to show the support and alliance from other groups. Make sure to arrive early to claim your spot before the herds of people arrive!
If the summer heatwave continues and famous Manchester stays away, grab your suncream and watch the day go by in Sackville Gardens. Located one side on Whitworth Street and the other on Sackville, the green area is where locals and visitors can escape the hustle of the town centre whilst still being close to the city buzz. The garden is also home to the Alan Turing memorial, “the father of modern computing” who conducted his research in Manchester and was one of the many men persecuted for being gay back in the 20th century. You can also find the Beacon of Hope here, the UK’s only permanent memorial to those living with HIV/Aids and for the lives lost.