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Birmingham Pride 2011

I went to my first ever Birmingham Pride over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. Last year I didn’t go because I had just moved to the area and was still out of work, so I simply couldn’t afford it, but this year was different and I had an absolutely fabulous time and I’m very glad that I went, even though after so many years of doing Manchester the setting and the people were largely unfamiliar to me.

Birmingham Pride operates under a similar format to Manchester Pride in that there is a parade through the city centre followed by a giant street party in the gay village that lasts several days, although in Birmingham it only lasts for two days instead of of the whole duration of the bank holiday as it does in Manchester. This was a good thing for this year at least because it absolutely plummeted down with rain on the Monday and so it would have been awful.

The other key difference between the two events is the ticket price. Manchester will relieve you of the best part of thirty quid for a wristband for entry into the village (if you don’t know the correct people), but in Birmingham there is no such requirement. It’s free, all weekend, indeed it’s apparently the UK’s largest free music festival. The payoff is that the acts on the main stage aren’t nearly so well known, but that’s fair enough, and frankly for me the pride events aren’t all about the main stage acts. I absolutely love the atmosphere and the noise experience there. Everybody is happy and it’s great. Just wish I had someone really special in my life to share it with.

Birmingham Pride is always early in the year and kicks off the pride season, with Manchester finishing it off on August bank holiday. I don’t like London Pride, it’s utterly up its own arse, so I never bother with it, but I do like Brighton Pride when I’m able to make it down there. That too is free, taking over the whole of Preston Park for a day in a format very similar to what London Pride used to be in the 1990s, before it became so heavily commercialised.

Many thanks to my friend and colleague James, who I spent most of the weekend with. We’ve been promising ourselves for ages a good night/weekend out and pride provided the perfect opportunity.

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