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Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals

by ClaireBullen July 2014 - last edited July 2014

Held in cities all over the world, Pride is a rich and important celebration of LGBT communities, a festive and politically charged occasion that’s as colourful as it is inclusive. This past weekend saw a number of Gay Pride festivals light up across the US – from New York City, where the Stonewall Riots led to the first-ever Pride, to San Francisco, a city famous for its vibrant and wild parade.


But while June may be a high point for Pride, the party isn’t over yet. Across the country, from Tacoma to Atlanta, there are still plenty more events scheduled for the coming months. Don your rainbow finest and show your support.


1. Atlanta Pride (11/10-12/10)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | Atlanta Pride

Atlanta Pride is the biggest and most festive celebration in the southeastern US © Reggie Barton

If you’re in the southeastern United States, you’ll want to make a beeline for Atlanta in mid-October: the capital of Georgia hosts the region’s biggest Gay Pride festival. Events kick off with a Friday night party at the Georgia Aquarium, where rainbow-bedecked attendees can groove with (or at least next to) the fishes. The events, which also coincide with National Coming Out Day, will include a parade, street market, and live entertainment.

2. Austin Pride (14/9-20/9)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | Austin Pride

Singer-songwriter Steve Grand performs at last year's Austin Pride © Austin Pride

Given that Austin Pride’s theme this year borrows from the Wizard of Oz, there’s certain to be even more sparkle than usual (look out for ruby slippers). Events include a daytime festival and an evening street parade, though there’s plenty of other programming on hand. The WERK! Fashion Show will feature TV celebrities (designer Daniel Esquivel from Project Runway and drag queen Bianca Del Rio from RuPaul’s Drag Race), while the Pride Drag Brunch will serve up French toast brûlée for those recovering from the revelry.

3. Charlotte Pride (16/8-17/8)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | Charlotte Pride

The burgeoning Charlotte Pride will draw more than 80,000 attendees this year © James Willamor/Flickr

It’s good news for those in North Carolina: the milestone Charlotte Pride has been growing exponentially since its founding several years ago, and this year is predicted to draw more than 80,000 attendees. A buoyant, float-filled street parade will be the main draw, while live performers, including LeAnn Rimes and Bianco del Rio, will entertain attendees from several stages and a street market will keep the crowds refreshed.

4. Dallas Pride (21/9)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | Dallas Pride

Dallas Pride's celebration will mingle festivity with political activism © Dallas Pride

Celebrating its 31st anniversary, Dallas Pride will have a particularly political theme this year: 2014 marks the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, commonly regarded as the birth of the modern gay rights movement, and both the parade and festival will pay homage to the events of 1969. Of course, there’s also fun to be had: a Disco vs. Retro dance party, karaoke contest, and other events will provide unabashedly high-energy celebrations.

5. Las Vegas Pride (5/9-6/9)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | Las Vegas Pride

Las Vegas Pride throws a party with real flair © J M Rosenfeld/Flickr

Leave it to Las Vegas to throw a Pride to remember (or not, depending on just how much you plan on celebrating). On September 5th, a glittering nighttime Pride Parade will take to the Vegas streets from 7-10 pm, though there’s certain to be all manner of after-parties to take the celebrations into the wee hours. The next day, attendees can enjoy a more relaxed pace at the Clark County Amphitheatre, where performers will take to the main stage alongside over 100 exhibitors and family-friendly activities across the festival grounds.

6. Oakland Pride (31/8)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | Oakland Pride

Oakland Pride will host its first annual Pride Parade this year © waspi/iStock/Thinkstock

San Francisco may get the lion’s share of the press where Bay Area Pride is concerned, but up-and-coming Oakland will have an array of plans on offer to tempt revellers, including its first annual Pride Parade. Billed as one of the most diverse Gay Pride festivals in the country, Oakland Pride will offer community exhibitors, arts and crafts, a children’s garden and more local draws alongside the main parade.

7. Palm Springs Pride (8/11-9/11)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | Palm Springs Pride

Palm Springs Pride is a SoCal staple, with plenty to do for attendees of all ages © Palm Springs Pride

The environs around Palm Springs may be best known for hosting Coachella, but the music festival isn’t the only one in town. The long-running Palm Springs Pride is a favourite community staple, with music performances, a parade, and plenty of children’s entertainment too. While this year’s schedule has yet to be unveiled, last year’s included everything from Big Top Cabaret and a Country Western Dance Tent to an Authors Village and Youth Xone; this year’s festivities should be just as diverse.

8. San Diego Pride (18/7-20/7)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | San Diego Pride

San Diego Pride is one of the largest in the United States © San Diego Pride

There’s no shortage of events on offer at San Diego Pride, held in late July. Those looking to let loose can flock to the music festival in Balboa Park, which will offer multiple stages and over 200 performers. A Friday night block party will kick things off, while a rally will cater to those interested in activism. The Parade will then be the main highlight, with thousands expected to turn out for the spectacle.

9. Tacoma Pride (11/7-16/7)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | Tacoma Pride

Tacoma Pride encompasses everything from a music festival to cabaret performances © Brett Curtiss/Flickr

South of Seattle, the multi-day Tacoma Pride is shaping up to be one of the most festive of the year, with a huge range of scheduled entertainment and events. Only four years old, the festival will comprise the Out in the Park music festival, while things will kick off with a flag raising and presentation of the Rainbow Awards for those working towards equality. Crossing the Threshold will see LGBT storytellers give cabaret-style performances, while Proud! Outloud will celebrate youth in the community with performances and a gourmet meal.

10. Tucson Pride (11/10-18/10)

Ten of the Best US Gay Pride Festivals | Tucson Pride

Tucson Pride, also known as Pride in the Desert, is one of the oldest Prides in Arizona © Bill Morrow/Flickr

Also known as Pride in the Desert, Tucson Pride is one of the longest-running Gay Pride festivals in the southwest, and will be celebrating its 37th anniversary this year. The parade will be held on 4th Avenue and will also incorporate a block party, while the Kino Sports Complex will play host to the Pride Festival the following weekend. Drag and musical performances will make up the entertainment, while, given this year’s Stonewall anniversary, there will be an activist component as well.


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Will you be attending any of these great Gay Pride festivals this year? Let us know in the comments section below.


Written by Claire Bullen

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About the author: ClaireBullen

Claire Bullen

Claire is a born globetrotter: before relocating to London, she spent time in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. When she's not in pursuit of the next exciting meal, she can be found haunting indie bookstores and sketching outdoors. Follow Claire @ClaireMBullen