‘Louder, prouder and more ‘out’ than ever before’: Your definitive guide to Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend 2012

By Helen Le Caplain

Manchester Pride Festival is back and this year it’s louder, prouder and more ‘out’ than ever before, in celebration of its thriving LGBT community.

Held from August 17 to 27, the festival will descend on Manchester’s Gay Village with a multitude of live music acts, club nights and a free Pride Parade beginning in Deansgate and making its way through the city to Whitworth Street.

This year’s headliners include 90s pop sensation, Steps, ABBA tribute act Bjorn Again and stage star, Louise Dearman who will all perform at the Gaydar main arena on Bloom Street.

Sackville Gardens will play host to up-and-coming artists within the LGBT community in addition tos a dedicated Women’s Stage with performances from Toyah, Never the Bride and Kath & the Kicks.

Manchester Pride’s Fringe will provide over 40 dance performances, film showings and poetry nights.

Cuban singer Margarita Pracatan who specialises in ‘devastating’ renditions of Broadway classics and Britney Spears covers will also take to the stage/

Canal Street’s bars and clubs will also be on hand to ensure that the party continues well into the early hours.

Baa Bar, Queer and Federation are holding a series of special events and themed nights throughout the ten days.  

Manchester Pride will also be honouring the gay mathematician and scientist, Alan Turing who committed suicide after being accused of ‘gross indecency’ for his relationship with another man.

This year’s theme, ‘Queer’d Science’ remembers Turing’s contribution to science and reflects on up until recently how homosexuality was a punishable offence in the UK.

Manchester Museum is showing Alan Turing and Life’s Enigma until November 18, an exhibition comprising of Turing’s notes, museum objects and 1950s-inspired design pieces.

The museum will also be holding discussions on the crossover between science and sexuality.

Manchester Pride 2012 highlights include:

Friday August 17

Manchester and Warrington Quakers present their third Pride ceilidh, Central Manchester Quaker Meeting House.

This evening of traditional folk dancing will start at 7pm and features a live band and free non-alcoholic drinks.

All members of the LGBT community are invited to attend.  

Free entry but booking advised, email [email protected].

Saturday August 18

Three’s a crowd, Fours a Mother at Taurus Bar, Canal Street.

As part of Pride Fringe, the New Altitude Theatre Company stages this comedy about the perils of living with your ex and ‘a mother from hell’.

Tickets £5 in advance. The show runs from Sunday August 18 – Monday August 20.

Sunday August 19

Stranger in the Night Margarita Pracatan

The comedy musical diva, Margarita Pracatan brings her sold out New York show to Manchester Pride for its premiere UK performance.

The Cuban chanteuse astounds audiences with innovative interpretations of well known pop hits and a portable Yamaha keyboard.

A hot Mexican buffet is included in the price of the ticket.

Tickets £25. All seating is cabaret style, unreserved.

Pink Dog Show

Manchester Pride has joined with Manchester and Cheshire dogs home to present the ‘Biggest pink dog show in the North West.’

Dogs can be entered into categories including ‘Best in theme’, ‘Most handsome Butch’, ‘Prettiest Bitch’ and ‘Best trick.’

Two winners will be chosen and crowned this year’s King and Queen at Sackville Gardens, Sackville Street.

There will also be a dog-dancing display and celebrity judges, so those without four-legged friends can still enjoy the unique event.

Free entry. £3 competition entry, 12pm start.

Monday August 20

Chamber Music Concerts

The annual series of Chamber Music recitals celebrate LGBT composers as well as young Manchester talent.

This year includes performances from baritone Roderick Williams, the Heath Quartet and the Aquinas Piano Trio.

Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, 1pm start. Tickets £5 on the door.

Tuesday August 21

Women’s Pride

Run by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, this evening fill feature screenings of film footage and archive footage that highlights the contribution of lesbian and bisexual women in the LGBT cause.

The evening aims to inspire women to continue making contributions to the LGBT community.

Held at the Lesbian & Gay Foundation on Richmond Street, 6pm start.

Free food and refreshments will be provided.

To book a place, email [email protected] 

Wednesday August 22

Lee Star’s 50 and Fabulous

Via, Canal Street celebrates their resident DJ, Lee Star’s 50th birthday with music and guest acts Topping and Butch

Free entry

Via, Canal Street

Thursday August 23

It’s a Gay Knockout

Eight teams from the LGBT community battle in a series of camp events involving sausages, Mary Poppins-style handbags and stilettos.


Taurus Bar, Canal Street 9pm start, free entry.

The Big Weekend – Friday August 24 – Sunday August 26

Steps, Bjorn Again, Louise Dearman, Cleo Sol, Santiago Street Machine Scarletts Roses will all be performing on the Gaydar Main Arena over the weekend.

Up-and-coming acts The Spiels,  I am Tich and Alfie Ordinary will all take over the Sackville Garden Stage on Saturday  before it transforms into the ‘Women’s Stage’ on Sunday.

Some of Britain’s best female performers including Toyah, Never the Bridge, Kath & the Kicks and Rosie Wilby are set to perform

The much-awaited Pride Parade runs through Manchester City Centre on Saturday August 25.

Featuring over 90 entries from LGBT organisations, charities and businesses, this year’s ‘Queer’d science’ themed parade will snake through the city from Deansgate to Whitworth Street.   

Elsewhere in the gay village over the Big Weekend, visitors will be able to find markets selling organic clothing and handmade jewellery as well as over 55 exhibitors from a variety of travel, sports and legal organisations.

Entry to the Pride Parade is free but wristbands are needed for attending events in the gay village afterwards.

Early bird tickets for the Big Weekend are £20.

Day tickets for Friday, Saturday or Sunday are £12.50

Monday August 27

George House Trust Candlelit Vigil, Sackville Gardens 9.15pm

The ‘spiritual heart’ of Manchester Pride festival culminates at the George House Trust Candlelit Vigil which sees Sackville Gardens turn into a sea of flickering candles.

The vigil forms the closing event of the festival and remembers those who have been lost to the HIV virus.

For ticket sales and more information about the event, visit

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