the ultimate pride guide

FIRST TIME AT PRIDE?

Pride is an amazing event and can be an incredible experience to take part in, wherever you are. Manchester’s Pride Big Weekend is one of the biggest and busiest Pride events in the country and we want you to be able to get the most out of it and thoroughly enjoy yourself!

Here’s our ultimate guide to surviving (and thriving!) at this year’s Pride!

The Parade

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When is it?
The Parade kicks off at 12 O’clock on Saturday 25th. Each year gets bigger and bigger so it can take a couple of hours for the whole thing to go past. It starts by the Hilton Hotel and ends near Canal Street. It can get busy from 11ish so get there nice and early if you want a good spot! And look out for our Sea themed float of course!!
the crowds
The atmosphere is amazing at Pride and pretty much everyone’s in the party atmosphere. There are big crowds and it can get pretty loud! As with any big crowded places, make sure you keep an eye on your valuables! Some people spread their money about a few pockets to keep it safe… Also it’s a good idea to pick a spot in the city to meet up if anyone gets separated as phone signal can be a bit rubbish during the Parade.
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phone signal

Because there’s so many people there, all uploading Instagram images and sending Snapchats, 3G or 4G signal can get super slow.

It will still work, but just in case you’re planning a live stream, it might take a while to get a good signal going!

grab a snapchat filter and lens

Keep an eye out for our fishy themed entry this year which will hopefully be our loudest one yet! In addition to giving out stickers, wristbands and rainbow popcorn we’re also having a limited edition Snapchat filter only available during the Parade along the route!

It’s drawn by our group and is obviously amazing so get yourself down to the route to grab it!

And check out our special Pride themed snapchat lens –
click the link to unlock ‘Anyfin is Possible!’

The Big Weekend

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it's really busy!
Whilst the atmosphere can be amazing, Canal Street itself can get really busy and can be tricky to navigate. The side streets are often much quieter and easy to find your way through. If the crowds get a bit much then the markets towards the edges of the area and the Expo in the NCP carp park are great places to catch a breather! If one of the big performers are on the stage then the streets surrounding them can get really congested – it might even be easier to leave the area and go back in one of the other entrances if you’re trying to get somewhere at that time!
drinking alcohol?
The Big Weekend can be quite the party atmosphere, and a lot of people end up drinking quite heavily over the weekend. If you’d rather keep clear of stuff like that, check out the Superbia section below, with loads of dry spaces people can access with just as good a party atmosphere! If you do drink over the weekend, then be sensible. Keep your eye on your drink, even if it’s not an alcoholic one! Its really sad we have to give this advice, but people do get spiked over the weekend. Buying cans or bottles is an easy way to keep an eye on what you’re drinking, as well as keeping your thumb over the opening. Drink lots of water. Especially in the heatwave we’re having! If you’re drinking alcohol, pace yourself! Lots of places offer cheap cocktails and it can get pretty difficult to track how much alcohol you’ve actually had, especially if you’re drinking during the day. If you get worried you’ve been spiked, or think you might have had too much, finding a Village Angel might help.
who are the big acts?
This year has Rita Ora, Louise, Alexandra Burke, Gok Wan and more performing. If you want to know more about he individual line up head here. All the headline acts get really busy (and the arenas fill up pretty early on) but they’re all streamed to the big screens in Sackville Gardens, so if the crowds are too much head there to soak up the atmosphere without the stress!
Don't want anyone to know you're here?
If you’re not out to family and don’t want them to know you’re attending Pride than make sure that someone does know – preferably someone who’s not going themselves so that there’s someone who knows where you are. Even if it’s just a friend! Keep in touch with them throughout the weekend to let them know your OK.
Going with other people?
It’s a good idea to pick a meeting point somewhere if you get separated. Pick a landmark everyone knows and make it your “base”. Plan on doing a lap / meeting there every so often and make sure every knows to head there in case you get separated. This way you have a back up plan if you lose your phone or lose your signal.
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Have fun!
Yes, make sure you’re safe and be smart about stuff – but make sure you’re having fun too! Pride is an amazing experience and for many people somewhere they can really be themselves and let lose. Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy yourself!
what's with the wrist bands?
You can walk through the fenced off area surrounding Canal Street without a wrist band. You’ll need a wristband to get into Sackville Gardens, the Main Arena, the Expo / Dance Arena and Candlelit Vigil (basically all the areas with performances and events as they cost a fair chunk of money to put on!) If you’re over 18 and are going into bars then each bar tends to have it’s own policy on wristbands – most are fine during the day but will get stricter on letting people in as it gets into the evening. You can buy a ticket from Pride’s website or a handful of shops in Manchester City Centre (like Spar in Piccadilly Gardens). They cost £30 for Friday-Monday. You’ll need to exchange that ticket for a wrist band for the weekend – take a look at our map for where they are (they’ll be big cues right after the Parade though!)
what are the village angels?
The Village Angels are an amazing group of volunteers who can help if you get yourself in trouble over the weekend. They’re the people in pink hi-vis jackets. They’ll be able to give you directions if you get lost, get you somewhere quiet if you’re worried you’ve had too much and can liaise with bouncers and police if you’re worried about your safety. Don’t be afraid to use them!
How old do I need to be?
The Big Weekend is open to all ages. If you’re under 16 you’ll need to be accompanied by an adult though. If you’re 12 or under you get to have a child-priced wrist band (get you!) And obviously you’ll need to be over 18 to go to any of the bars!
what should i bring?
If you’re bringing a bag it will probably get searched on the way in to the area. You can bring in stuff like water though, which is probably a good idea! Make sure you have a phone and that it’s topped up / got data and txts left (it can be easy to get separated sometimes!) Keep some money somewhere separate if you’re going to need to get a bus, tram or taxi home to make sure you can always get home safely. A lot of the food stalls only take cash, so make sure you have a bit of change on you. Other that that, just bring your glorious rainbowy self!

The Superbia Weekend

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The Pride Alternative!
If the big crowds and the atmosphere of the Big Weekend aren’t for you, Superbia might offer a great alternative, and their events are free! They run events all year round but have loads going on over the long weekend. Most of the events are at the old Corner House building on Oxford Road (opposite the Palace Theatre). For a full line up of events head to the Superbia Site!
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What's on?
From 2pm till 6pm there’s a Parade-After-Party at No 70 Oxford Road (M1 5NH) with alcohol free drinks, music and a chance to see everyone’s amazing outfits up close! Right after there’s a brief history of Pride followed by an evening of Cabaret! All free to attend! Sunday is filled with screening of new movies and documentaries! There’s talks from Queer artists (12:30), workshops looking at LGBTQ+ people of colour (3:30), dance workshops (7:30) and even a yoga class for those up bright an early (11:00am). No need to book, just turn up on the day – there’s loads more info on their website.

Transport

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Taxis
Whether you’re getting a black cab, mini-cab or Uber, be prepared for a bit of surcharging! It might cost a few quid more than normal to get somewhere. They’ll be tons of cabs along Portland Street over the whole weekend, some on the north exit towards Piccadilly train station and there’s mini cab offices well signposted on Chorlton Street to book a taxi from.
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Public Transport
Trains run completely normally over the weekend. Trams going through St Peter’s Square will be delayed during the Parade (but mostly still run) Buses will run like normal, except Sat morning. The area around Central Library will be cordoned off so buses will turn off before then if you’re coming that way. Buses will run from Piccadilly Gardens as normal, except buses that go through Chorlton Street (where the National Express station is) go to Princes Street. During the day (esp Sat) trams and trains can get very busy, so plan accordingly (maybe don’t take bags full of costume changes…!) On any public transport, especially late at night, do make sure you’re safe. Let someone know you’re leaving and when you expect to be back.

The Vigil

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What to Expect
Monday night’s Candlelit Vigil and Fireworks closing ceremony is one of the high points of the weekend, and can be a pretty emotional one too. There’s usually some emotional speeches from those who have lost loved ones to HIV and hate crime and a moment’s silence. It’s all followed by an incredible fireworks display!
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When to get there
People start cuing up outside Sackville Gardens quite early on and it can get full quite fast. The times of the vigil will be up on big screens in the park over the weekend and its usually a good idea to get there a god hour or so before hand. Bear in mind the crowd can get quite big and you might be standing up for a fair while!

All a bit much?

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Use the rest of city
The city centre is right next to Pride and over the Big Weekend the same atmosphere can be felt everywhere. It’s well worth taking a breather and grabbing some food or just going for a walk around China Town, the shops, food court and so on. The big crowds can get the better of even the most party crazed monsters!
It's your Pride
Don’t feel pressured to go wild over the weekend! It’s your Pride, it’s there for you to enjoy in your way. You should feel happy and be able to relax being yourself. Don’t let anyone drag you into things that are too much for you or that you’re not ready for.
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Make the most of Monday
Monday is the quieter day at Pride (by Pride standards at least!) so it’s a much more relaxed time. Also a lot of venues lower their prices on this day so food’s can be a real steal as all the big acts have been and gone. If you want to explore at a slower pace then make the most of this day and you’ll get to enjoy the Vigil in the evening too.
Try Superbia
Check out some of the Superbia activities above for a break from the crowds of the Big Weekend. There’s cabaret, movies, workshops and more. If you’re up for a stroll head down to the Proud Trust’s Sidney street café on Oxford road for some of the best Vegan food in the city and an amazing chilled welcoming space.

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