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Manchester Pride Festival announces format changes and adopts new rainbow flag

Manchester Pride Festival have announced huge format changes for the 2019 celebration event, while a new flag has been adopted to be more inclusive and accepting.

Anyone who has attended Manchester Pride in the past will be aware that the majority of the event’s celebrations took place in and around Canal Street but that’s all about to change. Significant property development in the area, including a substantial risk of development on the Sackville Street car park, which previously housed the Main Stage, has resulted in a few format changes.

While celebrations and events will still take place in Canal Street, the city’s LGBTQ+ hub, and Sackville Gardens, the live music element will now take place at Mayfield. The venue, which is close to Piccadilly Station, will now play host to the ticketed-event which has been renamed as Manchester Pride Live.

Formerly a railway station and then a Royal Mail parcel depot, the building in Mayfield will play host to multiple stages and performance areas in a mixture of indoor and outdoor spaces.

(Manchester Pride)

As a result of feedback from a widespread consultation in 2018, specific offerings are also being developed for family, BAME LGBT+ people and women-only events. These events will be shaped via forthcoming focus groups with the community.

To keep party-goers safe, Manchester Pride has committed over £300,000 of investment into the reimagined Gay Village site, which has undergone much change as a result of development in the area over the past five years. It will remain a ticketed part of the festival and will be a focal point for the huge celebratory weekend.

Manchester Pride Festival 2019 will be made up of Manchester Pride Live, the Candlelit Vigil, the Superbia Weekend, the Gay Village Gathering, Manchester Pride Parade and Youth Pride MCR.

The Manchester Pride Parade will remain the same as it welcomes hundreds of thousands of revellers to witness the spectacle of LGBT+ people marching across the city centre.

The Parade, which was bigger than ever before in 2018, features 150 entries, equating to just over 10,000 participants in floats and walking entries from businesses and community groups across the region.

The Candlelit Vigil will continue to close the four days with a moment of reflection in Sackville Gardens. The home of Alan Turing and the Beacon of Hope will again be turned into a sea of flickering candles as the party calms and people take a minute to remember those lost to the HIV virus as LGBT+ people join together to fight the epidemic worldwide, and the stigma that still exists.

(Manchester Pride)

The Candlelit Vigil also provides a space to remember those who are suffering and those who are persecuted and presents an opportunity to stand together in a united front as we recognise the many challenges that are still faced by LGBT+ communities, both here in the UK and around the world.

Related: Greater Manchester reaffirms commitment to ending all new HIV transmissions within a generation

The Superbia Weekend is the festival’s alcohol-free space offering a weekend of premieres, firsts, new work and LGBT+ celebrations as a culturally rich alternative to the hedonism of the other elements of the festival. Its free-to-attend programme includes film screenings, cabaret, conversation, community workshops, new art and a free post-Pride Parade party. The events, which were last year hosted at 70 Oxford Road and HOME, will also have a home in the Gay Village in 2019.

Youth Pride MCR will be a free-to-attend event for 16 to 25-year-olds. It will be developed through engagement with young people from across Greater Manchester at focus groups which will be held in February.

“Manchester has always led the way in the advancement of LGBT+ rights.”

Mark Fletcher, chief executive for Manchester Pride, said: “This is a huge announcement for us and something we are extremely proud of. We have spent the past three years listening to our audiences and have curated these new elements of the festival to connect with as many LGBT+ people as possible.

“The progressive city of Manchester has always led the way in the advancement of LGBT+ rights. Having listened to everyone that engages with the festival and reviewed the landscape of Pride celebrations throughout the world, along with the issues still being faced by LGBT+ people across Greater Manchester, we felt that it was important to deliver a festival that not only celebrates LGBT+ life but also clearly continues to campaign for equality and acceptance.

Mayfield James Heather, development director from U+I, and Mark Fletcher. chief executive of Manchester Pride.

“What’s more, 2019 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising; an event which kick-started a half-century of LGBT+ right liberation. As we reflect on this landmark, we’ve been working hard to ensure that the political messaging and purpose of the Manchester Pride Festival remains clear and accessible for everyone who continues to support the LGBT+ Pride movement in the modern age.

“Manchester Pride Live will be one of the most innovative projects that we have delivered to date and our intention is to make it a world-leading celebration of LGBT+ life. The venue, much like us, is part of the foundations of our city and will provide a spectacular backdrop to what will be a uniquely inclusive experience where the LGBT+ people of Manchester can truly celebrate their culture in a safe and welcoming environment.

Related: Why Pride is still so crucial to the LGBTQ+ community

The new home for the August Bank Holiday event, Manchester Pride Live is part of a 24-acre regeneration site which will eventually see the creation of a £1bn new neighbourhood for Manchester, including residential, commercial and leisure space, as well as a new city park.

James Heather, Development Director for U+I, said: “It is a privilege to be able to provide a new home for such an iconic, ground-breaking and purposeful festival and we are delighted to be working with Manchester Pride to help create what will be a stunning weekend in a stunning location.”

“The iconic rainbow must adapt to reflect the modern society that we live in.”

The charity has also revealed a new identity for 2019.  For many years, the LGBT+ community has collectively stood under the iconic 6 stripe rainbow flag, designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978.  But in the 40 years since its creation, the community has evolved into many facets, with each one creating and identifying with their own symbols and flags.

Mark Fletcher commented; “We have seen that the iconic rainbow must adapt to reflect the modern society that we live in. A lot has happened but there is still a long way to go, especially in the recognition of people of colour in the LGBT+ community.

“To highlight the importance of this we’ve decided to adopt the 8 stripe flag created by the city of Philadelphia, USA as part of our logo.”

Tickets will go on sale on 31 January. Pre-register here – www.manchesterpride.com/festival-about.

Written by QWEERIST editor

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