Pride in Manchester city centre is rightly renowned as one of the largest and most significant LGBTQ+ celebrations nationally, with thousands of people attending the event each year. Perhaps less well known are the Pride celebrations in each of Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs – some well-established, some newly inaugurated, but all doing important, transformative work with the local community. There’s Bolton Pride, established in 2015 as a response to a damning report on hate crime statistics in the borough; Pride in Trafford, which makes queer art its annual focus; the Pink Picnic in Salford’s Peel park, with its carnival atmosphere whatever the weather, and more. For a full rundown of the Pride events in each of Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs, their histories and upcoming programmes, read on.
The annual Manchester Pride Festival, organised by LGBTQ+ charity Manchester Pride, is a nationally and internationally significant celebration of LGBTQ+ life, with events falling under six key themes: community, activism, equality, arts and culture, party, and youth and family. Up to 14,000 people march in the Pride Parade, with thousands more spectating, the Gay Village Party sees community performances, markets, live stages, parties and more across the area, and the candlelit vigil is the traditional close to the Pride weekend, with Sackville Gardens transformed into a sea of floating candles as people gather in a moment of reflection and commemoration. Beyond this, there’s a mix of other ticketed and free-to-attend events taking place as part of the wide-ranging festival programme.
The first Stockport Pride took place in 2017, an event that set out to encourage diversity and inclusion as a way of tackling LGBTQ+ discrimination in the borough. The annual, one-day event includes performances, food and drink, crafts, music and a parade that winds its way through the town centre; 2019’s iteration featured over 50 stalls. You can also show some love by wearing the charity’s merchandise; Stockport Pride t-shirts, sweatshirts, baseball caps and hoodies are all available through the website.
Another fairly new event, Tameside Pride drew around 2,000 attendees to its first event in Cheethams Park in 2019, before shifting to a digital celebration during lockdown in 2020, with entertainment from Charlie Hides from Ru Paul’s Drag Race, singer and performer La Voix, drag act Misty Chance, comedian Stephanie Aird and more. The festival is staying digital for 2021, with in-person events planned later in the year – and a return to the fairground rides, food stalls, bars and celebrations in Cheethams Park sure to happen in the future.
A long-standing event with a brand new committee as of November 2020, Oldham Pride has, in past years, featured a parade beginning at The Tommyfield Inn and winding through town. In 2019, this ended in Parliament Square with stalls, activities, and entertainment on one of two stages, with family-friendly attractions including face painting and roundabouts. There was also a second stage for evening entertainment at The George Tavern; this year, however, things will be somewhat different. Organised in collaboration with Oldham Coliseum, Oldham Council and other voluntary groups and businesses, the event will be lacking in the parade and main stage, but will see a number of alternative happenings taking place in celebration. The new committee also has ambitions to become a year-round presence and a focal point for the community in Oldham.
Rochdale in Rainbows presents Pride
November 2019 saw a fortnight of Pride events taking place across Rochdale, organised by the borough’s LGBTQ+ steering group, Rochdale in Rainbows. Formed a year earlier with the aim of both coordinating pre-existing activity, and planning new events, the organisation is made up of diverse organisations from across Rochdale, its formation welcomed by LGBT Advisor to the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Carl Austin-Behan. Bookended by stage shows, including a critically-acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe production, Pride in Rochdale 2019 featured workshops, talks, social nights, performances and more.
Celebrating Bury’s diverse community, Bury Pride is an award-winning equality and inclusion event. Attended by around 1,500 people in 2019, the Bury Pride festival was sponsored by Barclays and headlined by pop favourites S Club, with performances from other acts taking place throughout the day on its outdoor stage. The festival has since been postponed until 2022, with organisers promising a full throttle return; in the meantime, work will be continuing behind the scenes, as well as with the possibility of free online events.
Established by founders Mark Geary and James Edgington in the light of a damning report on hate crime statistics in Bolton released by Greater Manchester Police in 2015, Bolton Pride was first and foremost an anti-hate crime campaign. Started as a response to an 135% increase in reports of homophobia in the previous 12 months, the organisation went on to work with local businesses and charities, forging relationships with the community under the slogan: Love Bolton, Hate Homophobia. Bolton Pride has since gained support from Christopher Ecclestone and attendance by Sir Ian McKellan, bringing together the diverse population in borough for an annual celebration of LGBT+ life, as well as working year-round to raise awareness and help develop community cohesion.
Also established in 2015, Wigan’s Pride event went digital during lockdown, featuring poetry, music, speeches and entertainment streamed through Facebook and YouTube. Each year, the event celebrates equality and diversity through music and the arts, traditionally with a parade through the town during the festival. Open to all, the event doubles as a showcase of the very best aspects of Wigan, through floats, dancers, drumming, colourful costumes and more.
Voluntary-led organisation Salford Pride is behind the annual Pink Picnic in Peel Park, as well as LGBTQ+ projects and events year-round. Founded in 2011, the Pink Picnic was attended by 120 people in its first year, before gathering in popularity between each iteration; the 2019 event was enjoyed by over 5,500 people. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 event was held digitally, with over 12,000 people streaming eight hours of Pride through the radio, Facebook and Zoom. Salford Pride and the Pink Picnic celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2021, with plans to build on a decade of work with the local community to promote equality and inclusivity across Greater Manchester and beyond.
Pride in Trafford
Pride in Trafford has a particular focus on queer arts, an ambition to both entertain and challenge its audiences. The inaugural festival in 2019 was a celebration of identity and LGBTQ+ life in Trafford through both storytelling and work from often unrepresented artists. After a digital microfestival in 2020, Pride in Trafford returns to its full glory in May, with drag gameshow Disco Tea Party, triple-headliner comedy night Laugh Riot – featuring Jessica Fostekew from The Guilty Feminist podcast, Paul Sinha from The Chase, and more – and Making Waves: Queer Edition, featuring performances from Cheddar Gorgeous, Fat Rowland, Jason Andrew Guest and others.