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Pride in London 2009 | © Colm Howard-Lloyd/Flickr
Pride in London 2009 | © Colm Howard-Lloyd/Flickr

Your Complete Guide To Pride In London 2016

Picture of Ellen Ridsdale
Updated: 9 February 2017
This weekend, the streets of central London will see the culmination of the most fabulous annual event of the year: Pride In London. Having spanned over the course of two weeks, the festival ends with a street parade that winds from Portland Place to Whitehall Place to join a concert in Trafalgar Square. Culture Trip has curated a guide to help you make the most out of this event.

A History

London Pride has a long history but a simple goal: for those in the LGBT+ community to have a day where they are able to express themselves and celebrate their sexuality in whatever way they like. The first Pride weekend was held in New York City, in 1969, before it leapt over the pond to London in 1971. The first London Pride saw around 200 activists from the UK branch of the Gay Liberation Front march through central London, one day after the police pursued a dozen drag queens after staging a ‘dress rehearsal’. One year later, in 1972, the first official London Pride took place with 2,000 people attending and showing their support. Since then, the parade has grown exponentially to more than 750,000 attendees in 2014 – and this year is set to become one of the biggest LBGT celebrations in the world.

Pride In London

The parade this Saturday is the culmination of two weeks of events, including concerts, talks and conferences, alongside art, dance and theatrical shows. Just as the diversity celebrated in their message, the festival aims to celebrate a diverse range of talents and skills within the LBGT+ community. Central London has even temporarily replaced the iconic ‘green man’ pedestrian crossing signals in Trafalgar Square with LBGT symbols; couples hold hands with a heart shape created in the centre.

The parade and following concert in Trafalgar Square is the largest celebration of Pride in London this year, following the two weeks of celebration. It is expected that over one million party-goers will descend down London’s central streets to see out the successful events.


What To Expect

The Pride Parade will run from Portland Place, winding down Oxford Street and Regent Street before finishing at Whitehall Place, with over 300 groups and floats taking part. This year, the parade will feature the London Fire Brigade, #PrideinFootball, the London Gay Symphonic Winds as well as the cast from ‘Ab Fab’. However, the bar to impress will certainly be high given previous floats such as a gay Vladimir Putin in a tank, a drag Jackie Onassis in the car from JFK’s assassination and Sir Ian McKellen.

The concert at Trafalgar Square will provide an all-day location of celebrations, which will have you on your feet and dancing the entire afternoon until the early evening. This year, London Pride has an extraordinary array of guests from all corners of the LBGT+ community and has even commissioned a Pride Anthem that will be performed by the celebrated Pink Singers as part of the afternoon’s festivities. Among other guests on the roster, attendees will be excited to see Sinitta, the London Gay Big Band, the cast of Kinky Boots and many more.

Tips n’ Tricks

Whilst the Trafalgar Square concert is a free event, a suggested donation of £3 will be advertised at the entrance. Once in, if you are standing in a large crowd but feel uncomfortable during the parade, a little-known tip is to visit one of Regent Street’s glass-fronted shops and plant yourself on the second floor, giving yourself a fantastic far-reaching view. However, just like staying in a café for their WiFi, it’s only polite to buy something for their time.

The day, be it fabulous and a lot of fun, is long, and though tempting to join the day drinking, we advise to pace yourself and drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage. That way, you’ll be sure to make it for the big finale and still remember it the next day.

This year, the message of love and kindness will be stronger than ever before, after the recent attacks in Orlando, and should be taken both literally and figuratively. Make sure your friends (and yourself) are safe and well throughout the day, and help any strangers should they look in need. There will be hundreds of stewards on the day directing the crowd and ready to answer questions.