The Big Weekend is renowned for bringing some of the best homegrown and international artists to the heart of Manchester City Centre every August bank holiday weekend to celebrate LGBT+ life and 2018 is set to prove no different.

Today (Thursday 26 April) Manchester Pride, the LGBT+ charity behind The Big Weekend, has announced the line-up for the four day event which forms part of The Manchester Pride Festival.

Topping the bill on the Thomas Cook Airlines Stage will be artists including Rita Ora, Jake Shears, Sigala and Alexandra Burke. 

The Gaydio Dance Arena will welcome TCTS, Ana Matronic, Jon Pleased Wimmin, and Pete Tong along with some familiar faces including DJ Paulette, Jamie Bull, Kriss Herbert and Danny Howard. 

Lucy Spraggan, will be performing at her 10th Big Weekend and as a seasoned performer has played every stage at the event throughout her musical career.  Plus across the weekend The Sackville Stage will play host to Proms In The Park, Heather Peace Presents and new addition - Bongo’s Bingo.

Two of the original DJ’s from New York Iconic Club Studio 54 - Nicky Siano and Jellybean Benitez - to recreate ‘A night at Studio 54’ in the Gaydio Dance Arena.

Introduced by G-A-Y, international superstar and Hot Right Now singer Rita Ora will bring her appropriately named single Proud to the stage.  Pop singer Rita Ora made her first official appearance in 2007 when she guested on Craig David's single "Awkward." A year later she joined Tinchy Stryder on his single "Where's Your Love," but her big break came in 2009 when an open-mike performance attended by one of Jay-Z's A&R men landed her a deal with the rapper's label, Roc Nation. In 2012, she provided the vocals for DJ Fresh's drum'n'bass hit "Hot Right Now," which topped the charts in the U.K. She returned to the number one spot that same year with her debut solo single, "R.I.P." Ora also released her debut album, simply titled Ora, which went straight to the number one spot on the U.K. album charts.*

Jake Shears, who is best known as lead singer for the Scissor Sisters, is stepping out on his own for the first time in 2018 and his performance at The Big Weekend will be one of his first solo shows in the UK.

Sigala, is an English DJ, record producer and remixer who’s had six top 10 hits, including his 2015 debut number one "Easy Love", which samples "ABC" by the Jackson 5. He’s collaborated with some of the biggest names in music including Sigma, Ella Eyre, Imani Williams, DJ Fresh, Nile Rodgers, Craig David and Paloma Faith.

Alexandra Burke has made chart history as the first British female solo singer to score a million-selling single plus she secured rave reviews in the West End for The Bodyguard and packed-out theatres in a touring revival of Sister Act. She earned herself a spot in the final of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and now, after a break of six years, she has returned with her third album, The Truth Is.

Manchester born TCTS is a DJ and record producer signed to Chase & Status' record label, MTA.  His hit Do It Like Me with Kelis & Sage The Gemini was one of last summer’s success stories.  Having received support from Radio 1, it hit #1 on the station's Dance Chart and stayed there for five consecutive weeks. It also gained specialist support from the likes of Pete Tong, MistaJam, and Danny Howard.

Jon Pleased Wimmin is a UK DJ who grew up in London and rose to fame in the club world during the 1990’s where his flamboyant cross dressing and stylish presence became a force to be reckoned with.  Jon’s highly stylised dress sense and his skill at mixing an eclectic selection of tunes garnered praise all round and throughout the 1990’s he was a regular fixture in DJ Magazine’s top 100 best DJ’s in the world, coming 5th in 1996.

Pete Tong, is arguably one of the UK’s best known and popular DJs - and as the voice of Radio 1’s prestigious dance programming, Pete has held a commanding presence over the industry for more than two decades. His unique position has earned him a reputation as the global ambassador of dance music.

Crazy rave bingo night Bongo’s Bingo has taken Europe by storm.  The chaotic version of the classic game of house which features rave intervals, dance offs and quirky prizes, has become something of a phenomenon with organisers taking up residences in Ibiza, Australia and Dubai. The show, which regularly sells out, will take to the stage in Sackville Gardens over The Big Weekend and is set to be one of the event’s most popular features.

After the success of the Silent Disco and Sing-along-Cinema last year, both events will be back this year, providing audiences with a truly immersive experience, where visitors become the stars of the show.

Mark Fletcher, Chief Executive for Manchester Pride, comments;  “This year we’ve curated the most eclectic, yet musically credible, line-up The Big Weekend has ever seen. From international artists like Rita Ora and Jake Shears, to underground stars such as Big Freedia and TCTS, we feel that this is a selection of artists that only Manchester Pride could present. It’s going to be an incredible celebration! 

“The line-up for the Gaydio Dance Arena is huge. Disco legends Nicky Siano and Jellybean Benitez are flying in especially to give us a taste of Studio 54. It’s not to be missed!”

The Manchester Pride Festival, which is made up of The Big Weekend, The Manchester Pride Parade, The Candlelit Vigil and The Superbia Weekend, is an award-winning four day event celebrating LGBT+ life. The event takes place in August, with this year’s The Big Weekend set to run from Friday 24  - Monday 27 August and the parade on Saturday 25 August.

Third release Big Weekend tickets are priced at £28 for the full weekend, £20.00 for day tickets and family and children's tickets are also available.

Tickets provide guests with access to the event site, including the Main Arena, Sackville Gardens Boutique Stage, the Gaydio Dance Arena and the Expo and help Manchester Pride raise essential money for LGBT+ causes in Greater Manchester.  For more information on The Big Weekend visit the website at  festival.manchesterpride.com.

To find out more about Manchester Pride you can follow the charity on Twitter @manchesterpride or visit the website at manchesterpride.com.

Thomas Cook Airlines is official sponsor of The Big Weekend and “The Thomas Cook Airlines Stage”.