100,000 people expected to descend on Birmingham city centre for Pride celebrations
Birmingham Pride organisers are expecting 100,000 people to line the city centre streets this weekend for the city’s rainbow parade, ahead of the three-day LGBTQ+ festival.
Headlined by pop band the Sugababes, this year’s Pride festivities are set to go ahead on Friday 26, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May, marking over a quarter century of inclusive mardi-gras style celebrations.
Dominating Brum’s Bank Holiday weekend events calendar, the annual outdoor party has become one of the biggest LGBTQ+ pride events in the UK and once again; the city is looking forward to delivering multiple days of celebration, reflection, and activism across two sites and six stages, with a high-profile parade through the streets of Birmingham.
Musical headliners ready to delight revellers include 90s favourites B*Witched, TikTok sensation Cat Burns, singer-songwriter Samantha Mumba, Drag Race UK winner Danny Beard, music star Gabrielle and local DJs, musicians and drag acts.
The main stage is back as part of Smithfield Live and remains integral to the overall festival weekend, all within walking distance of the city’s Gay Village in Southside where street stalls, bars and clubs will offer a festival vibe throughout the extended weekend.
With the main operational space around Hurst Street and Smithfield being secured for ticket and wristband holders only, there are also alternative options for those who want to enjoy some free Pride activities.
The main Birmingham Pride parade kicks off around noon on Saturday 27 May from Centenary Square and will showcase a sea of bright, bold multicoloured floats and walking groups; complete with elaborate costumes, extravagant decoration and entertaining dancing.
The coalition of community groups, LGBTQ+ collectives and allies, corporate supporters and political parties will snake their way through this city centre before being greeted by spectators at the Gay Village.
While groups taking part in the parade are already registered to do so, the streets will be ready for members of the public to line and enjoy the amazingly stunning spectacle. Open to all, the Pride parade can be viewed from anywhere along the route, which will be closed off to regular traffic during the course of the parade.
Pride’s organisers are also delighted to be bringing back the free ‘Big Community Event’ on Friday, at the Main Stage of Smithfield Live.
This will include performances from queer performers, keynote speakers, live music, and a candlelight vigil. The Big Free Community events, along with the parade and other free activity within the city, ensures that “Birmingham Pride remains inclusive and accessible”.
Power in Pride
The theme for this year’s festival will be ‘Power in Pride’ in response to rising LGBTQ+ hate crimes in the UK, especially against trans people. The theme is also intended to highlight the introduction of anti-LGBTQ+ policy and legislation across the globe.
“While Pride recognises the advances made in terms of equality, we must not be complacent and will stand shoulder to shoulder to fight the injustice, prejudice, and inequality that continues to affect LGBTQ+ people at home and across the world,” and organiser statement read.
Birmingham Pride organiser Lawrence Barton said: “It is now more important than ever, that we unite with the wider community and seek proper justice and equality for our community.
“There should be no room in society for hatred and inequality. Birmingham Pride seeks to challenge the injustices faced by our community and stands in solidarity with our global LGBTQ+ family.
“Our parade this year is ground-breaking and will be represented by over eight thousand people from our community and seen by around a hundred thousand people in the heart of the city. I hope everyone attending will have a safe and happy Pride.”
Birmingham Pride 2023 is being primarily sponsored by corporate firms HSBC and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).
HSBC UK Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Strybel said: “As a business which calls the West Midlands our home, we’re exceptionally proud to support Birmingham Pride once again.
“As one of the country’s largest banks, we’re committed to use our position in society to support diversity and inclusion in all its forms. We’re building HSBC UK into a place where we can all bring our whole selves to work and where all our customers feel comfortable banking with us.
“We look forward to coming together in celebration and solidarity with Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ community this bank holiday weekend.”
Francois Dossa, Executive Director of Strategy and Sustainability at JLR, commented: “I am delighted the Jaguar brand is supporting the main stage of Birmingham Pride for a second year and that JLR will again have a large presence with over 100 employees and two of our vehicles in the parade.
“Our JLR PRIDE employee network has taken part in the event for five years now and its of significant importance to me, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and co-sponsor of the diversity and inclusion initiatives at JLR.
“I feel particularly proud to be working for a company that encourages employees to bring their authentic selves to work. Together with our colleagues and our 14 employee-led networks and allies, we are transforming into a truly inclusive place of work.”