The first Northern Pride festival, held in 2008, attracted more than 1,500 visitors. Last year the attendance figure was closer to 23,000 and this year the festival is set to expand even further, with suggestions that Northern Pride 2013 could boost the region’s economy by more than £1m.
This is a remarkable achievement for Northern Pride chairperson Peter Darrant and the rest of his team, who organise the event fuelled by the desire to promote equality and raise awareness of issues faced by the LGBT (that’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.
This year, Northern Pride promises a whole weekend of celebrations, kicking off tomorrow with a 5k fun run hosted by Northern Frontrunners and ending with the official Pride Saturday night after-party at popular Newcastle cabaret bar Eazy Street.
Some 25,000 people are expected at this year’s festival which begins formally with the spectacular Pride Parade at noon on Saturday.
This yea, it flaunts the theme of ‘colours of the rainbow’.
It is an invitation – in true Northern Pride style – to anybody and everybody who would either like to make a political statement on behalf of the LGBT community or simply express their support.
Gathering at Newcastle Civic Centre from 11am on Saturday, marchers will make their way to Exhibition Park where further celebrations will ensue in the form of the biggest free Pride festival in the North East.
From 1pm, Exhibition Park really will have something for everyone: over 80 market stalls, a fairground, performances from acts such as X Factor’s Amelia Lily and Eurovision’s Katrina (of Katrina and the Waves).
Also, new this year, you will find a sports arena, a dance tent and dedicated family and trans zones, which will join the already established women’s zone and cabaret tent.
While there is plenty of fun to be had on Saturday, Peter Darrant is keen to point out that Northern Pride is also aiming to address the health and lifestyle concerns of the LGBT community in the Steve Paske Health Zone, which will offer complementary therapies, sexual health testing and even a climbing wall.
“Pride is all about celebrating the LGBT community but there is also a serious side,” Peter said.
“This is a great opportunity for people to get advice and support in a safe place, either on a health issue or to just to discover more about a range of wellbeing options.”
Every year, with this winning combination of celebrating, educating and not discriminating, the Northern Pride festival has brought a true splash of colour to Newcastle city centre. This year is likely to be no different, although a continuation of the Mediterranean weather would be welcomed.
Uniting fun and flamboyance with important underlying messages, Northern Pride has become one of the most popular features of the region’s summer calendar.
Find full details of this weekend’s activities on www.northern-pride.org