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Manchester Pride is an annual LGBT pride festival and parade held each summer in the city of Manchester, England. It is one of the longest running in the country and attracts thousands of visitors to the city's gay village, Canal Street, each year. The festival's events that take place within the Village require a paid-for Pride wristband for entry, while other events, such as the parade, can be watched by any spectator.
The current ten-day festival includes a "Pride Fringe" with a series of arts, music and cultural events all over the city as well as community events including poetry readings, quizzes and film showings, culminating in "The Big Weekend", a 72-hour party during the August bank holiday weekend in Canal Street and the surrounding area, with a parade through the streets of Manchester.
The Manchester Gay Pub and Club Olympics and Gay Centre Fun Day took place on August Bank Holiday 1985. The following year in June 1986 there was a Pride North across the north-west of England with a launch in the Rembrandt Hotel. In 1990 there was again a Pride in Manchester in June. Around the world June was traditionally the month for pride because the Stonewall Riots happened in June 1969.
In 1989 the Northwest Campaign for Lesbian & Gay Equality organised Manchester's "Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Diversity" Love Rights. It consisted of a music festival (performers included Jimmy Somerville and Yazz who performed her #2 UK chart hit of the same name "Stand Up (for your Love Rights)") at the Free Trade Hall and a political march starting at All Saints Park culminating in a rally with stalls in Albert Square. At the time the main focus of the gay rights movement was opposing Section 28.
This is confirmed by a booklet that the Village Charity published for its annual general meeting in 1994, which states: "many volunteers of the charity get upset when the press call our weekend the 'Northern Pride'. It's not and never has been." The purpose was solely to raise money for HIV and AIDS causes and in particular for the ward at Monsall Hospital where people received treatment. In 1991 the event was expanded to include a full programme of activities from Friday to Monday and it was named "the Carnival of Fun Weekend". The jumble sale moved into Sackville Park. On the Monday night there was a substantial fireworks display that was funded by the North West Development Agency and it was announced that good-luck telegrams had been received from Diana Princess of Wales and other high-profile people.
In 1991 the Village Charity was established to run the festival, at the time known as the Manchester Mardi Gras, raising £15,000.
Over the following years, the event grew and developed with support from the Village Business Association. According to a report in The Pink Paper just after the 1996 Mardi Gras, the Village Charity hoped to top the £77,000 raised with a further £50,000 from donations included in ticket sales to the Sunday Freedom GALA at the G-Mex centre. As a result, the event reverted to community control in 2000, 2001 and 2002. From 2000 to 2001 the event was called Gayfest and was organised and managed by a committee of volunteers led by local businesswoman Julia Grant. During this time the Gayfest team bid for, and won, the right to host Europride in 2003.
In 2002 the event reverted to the name MardiGras and was organised by a committee of the Village Business Association. During these three years, no entry fee was charged, yet money was still raised for charity: Gayfest 2000 collected £105,716.77, Gayfest 2001 collected £87,666.63, and Mardi Gras 2002 collected £65,007. In 2003, about 37,000 people paid for tickets for EuroPride which was hosted that year by Manchester. This can be gleaned from the fact that Operation Fundraiser sold the £10 tickets and gathered £388,946 from tickets and bucket collections, with a final figure of £127,690 for good causes.
At the closing ceremony in 2003, it was announced that the event would be now be known as "Manchester Pride" and in 2007 it became a Charity in its own right (charity number 1117848).
In 2014 Manchester Pride invited people from the LGBT community to help shape the way the organisation is run.
In 2016 the event raised £149,000 for the Manchester Pride Fund, with The Big Weekend drawing over 170,000 visitors.
In 2018 the event raised £161,000 for LGBT charities in Manchester. The parade had over 4,000 participants and nearly 150 entries and attracted tens of thousands of spectators to the city centre.
During the August bank holiday weekend of Manchester Pride, the city's gay village becomes a gated area; The gated system and entry fee have been in place since 2003, however, the candlelight vigil held in Sackville Park each Pride does not require a wristband for entry. Additionally, the parade, starting on Deansgate, is free for anyone to watch and does not take place within the gated zone.
Criticisms have arisen over the closed nature of the event. Pride organisers argue that it increases safety and, by purchasing a ticket to enter, this gives Manchester Pride an increased income that will be donated to charities. Additionally, though the wristband offers access to its arena sites, where music performances are held, certain bars and clubs within the vicinity charge their own entry fees. Manchester Pride noted the issue, stating, "we ask that bars do not charge an entrance fee during the Big Weekend; however this is something we cannot enforce".
On 22 April 2015 the Local Government Ombudsman ruled that Manchester City Council had exceeded its powers by mentioning wristbands in the Temporary Traffic Order for Manchester Pride and stated that the public had every right to make their way to premises (homes and businesses) within the gay village on foot via public pavements during the Big Weekend event.
- Evans, Denise (2012-08-24). "Manchester Pride: Your guide to the 2012 festival". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
- "Love Rights festival poster". Manchester Archives / Northwest Campaign for Lesbian & Gay Equality. Retrieved 2013-08-10.
- Williams, Jennifer (2016-08-27). "What is the point of Manchester Pride?". men. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
- "MANCHESTER PRIDE INVITES PEOPLE TO SHAPE HOW ORGANISATION IS RUN". Manchester Gaztte. Retrieved 2014-01-23.
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- O'Rourke, Holly (2018-01-29). "Manchester Pride Festival smashes records in 2017". men. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
- "Manchester Pride Festival - Black History Month 2018 | Black History Month Celebrating the Great Black British Achievers". Black History Month 2018 | Black History Month Celebrating the Great Black British Achievers. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
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- "Reclaiming Pride in Manchester". Gaymafiawatch.com. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- "Manchester City Council (14 015 131)". Local Government Ombudsman.
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