Bolton Pride faces cutbacks due to funding issues

Visitors to this weekend’s Bolton Pride will find a slimmed-down version due to a dispute over funding.  

The planned three-day festival has been cut to two, on May 25 and 26 – and both of those days will now operate with restricted hours.

A halt in additional funding has been blamed for the decision, just a year out from its decade milestone. 

And the cut-back has angered some within the queer community of a Greater Manchester town which doesn’t have a recognised space or bars for LGBTQIIA+ people.

Bolton Drag Queen Kristal Kweer said: “Pride gives LGBTQIIA+ people a safe space, it gives the queer people of Bolton a place to go and feel accepted and not worry about being beat up or anything.

“We are not very happy about the funding staying the same.” 

Kristal is not alone.

Bisexual Bolton resident Holly Bankier, 20, expressed disappointment in the council for their decision. 

“It’s saddening to learn that the council won’t extend support to an event like pride which brings so much joy to so many people,” she said.

“It would have been a fantastic opportunity for the council to demonstrate its commitment to supporting the community.

“I hope they seriously consider giving more funding to the event in the future.”

Kristal Kweer and fellow drag queen Toxic Shock were invited to petition the local authority for more funding for Pride – thought to be the first ever drag queens to enter Bolton Council chambers in full attire.

But they were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts.

Kristal said: “We wanted to prove a point that performers aren’t just here to do the gig and go, the performers are there to support pride and show that the event needs to be pushed more.”

Bolton Pride is free for everyone to attend, and the organisation is not for profit. Due to this the event relies on funding from Bolton Council and money made from sponsors and stalls to continue to operate.

In March, Bolton was named the Town of Culture for 2024 where it received £50,000 from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority for a year’s worth of events.

Bolton Council defended their decision not to increase funding to Bolton Pride.

A spokesperson said: “The council is incredibly proud to host one of the largest annual Pride celebrations in Greater Manchester, right in the heart of Bolton.

“We work closely with the organisers every year, providing funding and logistical support to help make Bolton Pride a fun, safe, and successful event.

“Events funding is allocated based on how they meet criteria for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and how they address the priorities set out in Bolton’s Cultural Strategy.

“We will continue to work with the organisers to look at ways to make funding go further, and for opportunities to bring in other investment, so Bolton Pride can continue to thrive.” 

Bolton Pride said it was too busy to provide a comment. Co-organiser Rob Wright previously told the Bolton News: “We originally planned a bigger event like last year with longer hours up to 11pm and including the Friday.

“But due to major loss of funding due to the financial climate that affected our core funders, we had to scale back and revisit the drawing board.”

Events like Pride are celebrations of queer culture and history, and provide an opportunity for people to express their sexuality unashamedly.

There was a 13% increase in sexuality-related hate crime in Bolton between January and March this year compared to the same time period last year, official figures show. 

And there was a 489% increase in reported hate crime on LGBTQIIA+ people in 2023 compared to 2010. 

There are no ‘gay’ bars or clubs in Bolton. And Pride is one of the few events specifically for the queer community in Bolton, which according to the ONS makes up 1.9% of the population – below the UK average of 3.3%.

“Pride is so much more important in a smaller town because you don’t really have the community as much, and a lot of people don’t tend to understand us,” said Holly.

“So having Pride events means people can go and be who they are, and not just the queer community, anyone who hasn’t felt understood in their town can go to Pride and feel accepted.”

Kristal says she is proud to be one of the only working drag queens in Bolton as most other queens flee to bigger cities for more opportunities.

Kristal said: “I enjoy that I can represent Bolton drag and Bolton’s people, but we need more queer venues here.”

Bolton Pride starts this Saturday. For more information about how to get involved visit

Featured image courtesy of Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash.

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