Estimations suggest this year’s Pride in London will attract a whopping 1 million people from across the LGBT+ community. Which goes to show just how expansive and rich this month-long party event become: Pride in London is no longer simply a parade but a month-long celebration encompassing parties, fitness events, and cultural activities. Best of all – everybody is welcome.
Sashay this way for an ultimate guide to Pride 2018.
At the heart of Pride in London is the Parade (July 7) which begins at midday, lasts four hours and attracts over 20,000 onlookers, and thousands more on the floats. The parade snakes through central London to its final destination in Trafalgar Square, bringing with it a distinct carnival atmosphere.
But if big crowds aren’t your bag, there are different ways to celebrate Pride and Pride Month, which officially stretches from June 9th until the weekend of the parade.
Pride: a newbies’ guide
Pride in London began in 1972, but if 2018 is your first time here are the need-to-knows.
- If you’re wanting to watch the Parade, there’s plenty of space along the route, which begins north of Oxford Circus on Regent Street, then heads south to Piccadilly Circus and down to Trafalgar Square. Mid-morning (around 11.30) will guarantee you a fine view somewhere along the route, although for the beginning and end points you’ll want to be there 2 hours early.
- Pride is a day of intense celebration for London’s queer community, and many choose to enjoy drinks on the streets, carnival style, as the Parade progresses.
- Be prepared to queue for entry to Trafalgar Square post-Parade. Free entertainment, live excerpts from musicals and singers, alongside street food and a paid bar, will all be available in Trafalgar Square, which is the main event hub for Pride during the day.
- If you’re looking to go clubbing, buy tickets beforehand and remember to show up early. And we mean early! If you are ambitious enough to *try* and get into Heaven, London’s biggest gay club, be in the queue by 10pm. Last year, the queue had snaked to Charing Cross station before 11pm.
Major event hubs
All the entertainment at Pride is scheduled on outdoor stages from around midday until the early evening, around 7pm, when local bars and clubs take up the baton.
Trafalgar Square Stage: The biggest destination following the carnival, here you will see major pop acts including Sinitta, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Eurovision’s SuRie.
Cabaret Stage: On Dean Street in Soho, the Cabaret Stage offers an alternative to the music programming with a glittering array of cabaret and drag acts.
Golden Square Family Stage: Over on the other side of Soho, you’ll find a more serene family-friendly party. Activities reflect its remit to cater to all ages, think a LEGO pit and bouncy castle for kids and big kids.
Community Village: Celebrate the thriving charity and not-for-profit sector representing the LGBT+ community at this village fair-style setup. Thirty groups are attending, including the Terrence Higgins Trust, LGBT Switchboard and Cancer Research UK.
The best parties
Soho’s famous pubs, bars and nightclubs will be open all day (and well into the night, of course) for Pride festivities. If you’re looking to carry the party on beyond 2 or 3 in the morning, head to Vauxhall’s clubs – near to the Tube station – where the parties typically continue deep into Sunday morning.
Official Pride at Night London After Party: The official Pride after party on July 7 takes place at The Grand in Clapham. It’s a huge theatre-sized spectacle of a space, and goes on until 3am (later parties will take place in Brixton and Vauxhall). Alongside a diverse set of club and pop tunes, Aaron Carty’s Beyonce Experience looks to be an unmissable live act.
LIBRARY London: This intimate, centrally-located members club has a mezzanine level for parties, and a Pride special – with DJs spinning LGBT+ anthems – arrives after Pride, on the evening of July 7.
Mint London Pride After Party: One of the biggest Pride parties for women promises to continue into the small hours at Studio 88, Leicester Square.
Little Gay Brother: This big gay rave hosted at Omeara goes on until five in the morning and features all manner of live drag performances alongside DJs playing dance hits.
The best cultural events
Zeal: The Pride Improv Festival: Improvised comedy, drag, and musical theatre numbers will be performed at this informal and experimental night on Saturday, July 7.
Grindr: The Opera: Celebrated queer theatre space Above The Stag brings this tongue-in-cheek musical about the changing landscape of gay dating to London’s fringe, July 7.
Remember the Clause: All or Nothing Repertory Theatre Company are examining the impact of the ‘terrible’ Section 28 clause imposed by Thatcher’s government 30 years ago in a series of plays. Runs until July 7.
Everyone is Divine! Hair and makeup artist Darren Evans has had unique access to the LGBT+ community’s brightest stars for 25 years. This event sees him make up brave attendees in the style of iconic drag superstar Divine – see their impressions of the drag idol until July 14.
Rubber up: Tales of Saucy Soho: Explore the historic legacy of Soho, and learn how the area’s beguiling past has kept tourists and the LGBT+ community magnetised for centuries.
Pride in London: The best fitness events
Morning Gloryville: This morning rave introduced the idea of sobriety and dancing to Londoners (try it, it’s addictive). MG are celebrating Pride on the morning of July 7th by inviting Londoners to dance soberly all the way through until 4pm at Ibiza-inspired Club 338 in Greenwich. Street food and health-kick drinks complement the banging beats.
iBike London: Ride with Pride: With “music booming on our fleet of disco bikes,” iBike London brings the Pride party to two wheels. This central London cycle is for all levels, and cyclists are encouraged to bring food and drink along for the relaxed ride.
Pride Boxing: This annual white collar boxing event, now in its second year after a successful inauguration, returns to London Pride for 2018. Proceeds go to causes within London’s LGBT community and the action takes place at London’s luxurious Porchester Hall.
The Muscle Marys: This tongue-in-cheek workout group have a couple of events leading up to Pride weekend, and they’re suitable for all levels. Try group fitness training on July 5 and Buttcamp on July 3 for an inclusive, social time exercising.