Canal street comes alive in preparation for Manchester Pride 2011

By Andrew Nowell

Preparations for Manchester Pride 2011 continued apace as the city’s LGBT community geared up for the annual festival this weekend.

Construction workers laboured in the glorious afternoon sun to prepare the main arena on Sackville and Bloom Street, where top artists including Pixie Lott, Pam Ann and Blue will perform over the weekend.

Canal Street is already a wash of rainbow-striped banners, flags, awnings and window displays, and along the famous thoroughfare and in the surrounding streets bars, clubs and shops decked out their front displays in a riot of colour.

Even private houses around the streets of Manchester’s Gay Village were getting in on the act with colour co-ordinated hanging baskets of flowers and rainbow flags to celebrate Pride weekend.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to descend on the city over the Bank Holiday Weekend for three non-stop days of music, entertainment, socialising and parades.

UNDERWAY: Construction work on the main stage where the weekend’s headline acts will perform

At icon on Richmond Street, the bar’s owners and staff were putting up their rainbow-coloured feather boas.

Co-owner Stuart Anderson-Donnelly said: “We’re doing a Moulin Rouge-themed entertainment for the weekend. It’s the first time we’ve done this so we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s free entry all weekend, and over the weekend we’ve got some celebrities coming down, including Shirley Bassey and Cher.

“Our theme for this year is ‘prices to be proud of’, so we’ve got some good drinks deals on.

“It’s a time to put the Gay Village on the map and show what we can do, showing how we can work together as a community to produce something so fantastic.

“There’s never been any problems with the police at Pride, and we want to show it’s possible to have big events which are safe. We’re also supporting the I Love Manchester anti-rioting campaign.”

At a nearby adult shop on Bloom Street, where the store was getting a fresh coat of paint and front windows filled with rainbow merchandise for the big weekend, staff were also keen to stress the opportunities to build a positive image of the city after the recent troubles.

Manager Debbie Nixon said: “We’ve got everything for the weekend: the bunting, flags, rainbow merchandise.

“Pride’s about helping everyone in the village celebrate, celebrate Manchester and their identity. It’s about all of us coming together, especially after what’s happened in recent weeks with the riots.

“It’s about everyone coming out and enjoying themselves, and hopefully having a safe and happy Pride.”

At New York New York bar on Bloom Street, adjacent to the main performing arena, graffiti artists Dirty Works were spray-painting a huge mural to hang on the side wall of the bar during the weekend.

L TO R: Hayley Garner, Simon Carrigan and Adam Musa of Dirty Works graffiti art preparing their mural to be displayed at New York New York bar on Bloom Street

Artist Simon Carrigan, who also works under the name ESS-FCP, said: “I think it’s brilliant for the area. Compared to some parts of Manchester it’s a lovely community where you feel very safe.

“I wish it was like that around the rest of Manchester, more accepting and pleasant.

“It’s also a great opportunity to promote graffiti more as an art rather than just as vandalism. We take pride in our work and we want to show we are supporting the area.”

Fellow artist Hayley Garner added: “It’s the acceptance, really. You can be anyone or anything you want.”

More related stories:

Labour, Lib Dems and Conservatives give their official backing to Manchester Pride 2011

Manchester Pride 2011: MM’s top picks

Manchester Pride Director to bow out as festival blows out the candles on its 21st birthday

Coronation Street stars show their ‘Best of British’ in Manchester Pride parade

Canal Street launch iPhone app and VIP Card ahead of Manchester Pride 2011

L TO R: Paul Harper, Aaron Doyle-Wilkinson and Stuart Anderson-Donnelly preparing icon on Richmond Street for the Pride Big Weekend

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