It’s almost that time of the year again - the drag queens are steaming their wigs, the bars are putting their banners up, and if you listen really carefully, you can hear the opening bars of Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten. Pride is back in Manchester this August Bank Holiday Weekend, and it’s gonna be fabulous.
What's On at Manchester Pride 2023?
In previous years, we’ve posted about everything you can expect to see at the Official Manchester Pride Festival, from the ticketed live performances to the massive Village Party. While these are indeed huge parts of the weekend, so much more is happening around Manchester this year! We thought that, for 2023, we would instead document more of the alternative Pride events happening across the city this Bank Holiday weekend.
A local student haunt down Sackville Street, Retro Bar is home to regular live music and performances. For the August Bank Holiday, they’re throwing a self-proclaimed Alt Queer Pride Party with Love Riot, a local DJ event featuring Dandy, Wditmf and Analoguetrash. It’s gonna be an all-day, all-night celebration on Sunday 27th August.
Although we said we’d be straying away from the overall Manchester Pride label, this one is connected but also alternative. Superbia is a year-round arts and culture programme which runs as part of Manchester Pride, and offers a series of events during Pride weekend that are altogether different from the mainstream options. Many are set in accessible locations as well as alcohol-free environments, allowing for a much more inclusive experience for all who wish to get involved. Last year’s events included a ‘Manchester is Queer’ exhibition, a show from Untold Orchestra, a Queer Kids Music Workshop, and Superbia Cinema, which showcased shorts from Northern queer filmmakers.
Whether you’re into more alternative pop or just fancy even more cheesy classics but want to be away from the busy Gay Village, then Pop Curious? and Girls Night Out (commonly abbreviated to GNO) are the places to be. Parked up in The Deaf Institute all weekend, these two club nights promise fun and camp pop moments all night. Pop Curious? features everything from chart-toppers like Dua Lipa to 90s icons like Rachel Stevens, from the big number ones down to album tracks you’ve always wanted to hear in the club. GNO features a mix of experimental hyperpop vibes like SOPHIE and Slayyyter, to chronically online favourites like Azealia Banks, to mainstream girlies like Ariana Grande and Charli XCX. They also tend to be on top of whatever is trending in the meme world, so expect some wild mixes.
As an added bonus, a ticket for their club nights gets you into Bar Minogue, a bonus basement full of Padam Padam party classics from Kylie, Danni, and friends.
Ducie Street Warehouse is serving up some incredible Pride this summer with their Freedom To Be series. Inviting you to “sashay your fabulous selves down” and stating that “love is the only dress code” (although we’re imagining *some* clothing is preferred), events include a Freedom To Be Party featuring world-renowned DJ Jodie Harsh, a Club Kids Disco Brunch Party, and a Pride-themed edition of their Dance To Your Own Beat night, the weekend is jam-packed with queer love at DSW this August Bank Holiday.
A celebration of music and love featuring DJ Paulette and Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy, Come As You Are is set to be a weekend of sophisticated disco in a comfortably LGBTQ+ setting. Unlike most of the other events on this list, CAYA is first-come, first-served rather than a ticketed event. Also, if you’re up for something a bit more relaxed before going crazy for the weekend, the Refuge terrace is hosting a Disco Flow Yoga session on Saturday morning to ease you into the “Bank Holiday debauchery”.
Of course, Manchester Pride itself has a tonne of free events to enjoy over the Bank Holiday weekend. The best one in our opinion is, of course, the Pride Parade, which begins at 12pm on Saturday 26th August. All your favourite Manchester icons, drag queens and soap opera celebs will celebrate their pride in the city among NHS staff, charitable organisations and LGBTQ+ sports teams.
And, of course, there’s the most important part of Pride - the Monday night Candlelit Vigil. It’s free to attend with a donation of £2.50 to the Manchester Pride charity, and in it, we remember all of those loved and lost in the LGBTQ+ community.
There are so many events going on this August Bank Holiday weekend for Manchester Pride, both as part of the official celebrations and as alternatives to the norm. Whatever you’re up to, keep safe, look after your friends and family, and enjoy yourself!