Once again, this summer sees the gathering of the members and supporters of the LGBT community from across the globe, attending Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend (in partnership with Thomas Cook Airlines and Manchester Airport Group) - “72 hours in Manchester's world famous Gay Village with a stellar music line-up, and much more…” - being held, as always, across the August Bank Holiday Weekend, right through from Friday to Monday.

Opening on Friday 26th August, to a DJ set on the Main Stage from 7pm, with other acts before the main event of the night in an established act at 9.45pm. Last year the Sackville Gardens Manbears Picnic played host at 7pm, with the Main Stage Feed being streamed on the big screen of the park.

Will Young was the first act to be announced to play at Manchester Pride’s The Big Weekend 2016 and the singer and actor, will be making his only LGBT festival appearance of the year at the event held over the August Bank Holiday Weekend, after a tour of concerts across the UK. Known for his pop and theatre career, there is hope that he will get the crowds going, despite timing and the date of his set yet to be confirmed.

International DJ Judge Jules was also the first DJ to be confirmed to play a set in the Gaydio Dance Arena. Winner of a huge list of awards, Judge has earned his place amongst the DJ aristocracy with such accolades as - Best DJ (Muzik Awards), No.1 DJ (Mixmag readers’ poll), Best International DJ (Dancestar Awards), and Best Radio DJ at the Smirnoff Dancestars and regular Top 10 positioning in DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs poll, peaking at Number Three in the world.

Saturday (27th) is the main day of the spectacular event that attracted fans, followers and supports from across the globe year after year, with the parade setting off at 1pm from Liverpool Road; along Deansgate, Oxford Road and Portland Street, Princess Street, Whitworth Street and finishing on Fairfield Street. With this year’s theme of ‘Once Upon A Time’, there is certain to be a buzz of celebration as the sparkling, enthusiastic and energetic (despite the early start to decorate floats) mass of rainbows paint the city centre a spectrum of colours and shades and blasting of camp and dance favourites fuel the sound systems, encouraging lots of dancing and getting the crowds going with stickers and other freebies! There have been floats of Disney characters previously and I guess they won’t change their outfits for this year’s float.

Act-wise, Saturday’s showcases includes another DJ from 4pm, a main act at 4.30pm, with fillers until another main named performer from approx. 8.40pm, ending with another experienced DJ at 9.30pm. Manchester Pride Patron Heather Peace Presents featured Proms in the Park last year and she has been announced to make a return this year. Alongside Manchester Pride, Heather is a patron of The Albert Kennedy Trust, Diversity Role Models and The Peter Tatchell Foundation and has been acting for over 20 years, starring in TV shows such as London’s Burning, Lip Service, Waterloo Road and Prey. She most recently appeared in Howard J Ford’s National Film Awards nominated film Never Let Go in which she played Jeanette Burrows.

Sunday is the highly-awaited and headlined highlight with the likes of popular camp favourites taking to the stage from 6.45pm and 9pm, before an interlude for the presentation for the Parade Awards at 4.50pm, returning after with more entertainment to whet your whistle whilst you enjoy the weather and electric atmosphere (and beverages available). I expect village favourites and regulars will pay testament to their arts on the ‘Sounds of our Village’ stage of Sackville Gardens from 2.10pm until 9pm.

Bank Holiday Monday is the final day of proceedings with a mix of known and new talents before the memorable incredibly poignant highlight that is the ‘George House Trust Candlelit Vigil’ from 2.15pm where the many inspirational and normal friends and family members of ours are in our deep thoughts as we remember the good times, the struggles, the successes and admire the hard work done by both LGBT and non-LGBT people to make sure the city, nation and world is a safer and more accepting place for members of the LBT community to be themselves and feel ‘normal’.

A clearer round-up of the weekend’s schedule, as well as details of the Gaydio Dance Arena, the LGBT Foundation’s various workshops and drop-ins and the informative and ever useful Expo can be obtained from the bigweekend.manchesterpride.com website but remember to stay safe, be yourself and enjoy every minute!

Tickets for The Big Weekend are on sale now, priced at £18 for weekend tickets. Day, family and children’s tickets will be released at a later date. Tickets are exchanged for Pledge Bands at the festival providing guests with access to the event, including the Main Arena, Sackville Gardens, the Gaydio Dance Arena and the Expo and help Manchester Pride raise essential funds for LGBT and HIV charities and organisations in Greater Manchester. 

For full details of this year’s event please visit http://www.manchesterpride.com/