London’s Gay Pride is a massive event that has been steadily growing since its inauguration back in the 70’s. While raising awareness about gay rights issues is still high on the agenda, the festival today has less of a protest feel than it did during its inception; instead the atmosphere is palpably celebratory, with London’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual community hitting the streets and partying the night away.
The Gay Pride in London is normally held during the first weekend of July, which means it makes the most of the excellent summer weather England normally enjoys. If you’re looking to travel to the city for the festival, staying in one of the many London hostels proves a great way to save money and meet other likeminded travelers. Each hostel London has tends to get booked up around the time, so it’s worth booking well in advance if possible.
History of the Gay Pride in London
The Gay Pride in London was first held in 1972, when 2,000 people attended. Since then, the event has blossomed, both in terms of attendance and activities, with various appendages, such as political speeches and drag contests, being added to the initial procession.
London’s Gay Pride really took off in 2004, when a new body (Pride London) was convened to oversee the organizing of the festival. One of the characteristics of Pride London’s efforts has been using the outdoor spaces of London, with Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Soho Square all featuring heavily on the yearly itinerary.
The main event at the London Gay Pride has to be the parade itself. Starting on Baker Street at 1pm, it picks its way through Oxford Street, and then heads to its resting place, Trafalgar Square. Needless to say, Trafalgar Square is a hive of organized activity, and it slowly swells in numbers as more arrive throughout the day.
Come nighttime, many of the participants head to one of the two or three major organized after parties and drink and dance the night away.
It’s a mistake to see the event as one day of activities, however. London’s Gay Pride actually lasts for a couple of weeks, with a festival of art events, music concerts and political debates taking place during the 14 days leading up to the march itself. As a result, early July is an incredibly vibrant time to be in London, especially (although not only) if you belong to the LGBT community.
Staying in London
For members of the LGBT scene, London is a haven of activity, and you’ll find plenty of speeches, gatherings, and nightlife all dedicated to the scene whatever time of year you arrive. The areas of the East End and Kings Cross are well known as epicenters of the scene, although you’ll find dedicated bars and clubs across most of the city. Inquire at the reception in your London hostel to find out more.