Because of the increased restrictions on social gatherings in place across many of the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester, Manchester Pride will be holding no physical events at all over the August bank holiday weekend.
Instead, there will be three days of online content in the form of the Alternative Manchester Pride Festival, helping everyone to celebrate Pride safely at home.
Content will be broadcast exclusively via United We Stream GM and YouTube between 10am and 1am on Saturday and Sunday, followed by a virtual Candlelit Vigil on Monday evening to close the festival.
Each day will kick off with Drag Queen Storytime with DIY SOS star Anna Phlyactic and a live yoga class on the Manchester Pride youtube channel.
Saturday’s line-up will be streamed via United We Stream, and will feature a programme of new live performances from Manchester Pride favourites including Louise, Karen Harding, Pixie Lott, Jodie Harsh, Gok Wan, Bright Light Bright Light, Husk, House Gospel Choir and Kelli-Leigh.
James Barr and Dan Hudson from hit podcast A Gay And A Non Gay will perform a head to head DJ set and will also record a live episode over the weekend, and BBC Introducing will host live performances from up-and-coming LGBTQ+ artists Elephant Trees, OneDa and Patrick.
The Manchester Queens, lead by Drag SOS star Cheddar Gorgeous, have recorded a brand new drag show to be screened on Saturday, plus there will be a Black Pride MCR vogue takeover, queer womxn’s takeover DJ set and body positivity pride collective Fat Pride will host a takeover DJ set before Gaydio hosts the After Party.
The charity will set up a live studio in the Bungalow at KAMPUS – the new garden neighbourhood being developed by HBD and Capital & Centric next to Canal Street – where Gaydio Breakfast show presenter, Dean McCullogh will welcome guests including Danny Beard and Cheddar Gorgeous to record live links and bring together the content throughout the day.
An ex-security cabin on stilts, the Bungalow was opened as a flexible event space earlier this year and looks out over the Gay Village.
Meanwhile, Danny Beard and JSky will be visiting homes across the region to brighten up front gardens and entertain LGBTQ+ people outside their homes.
Radio fans can check out a virtual celebration of Manchester Pride at 6pm Saturday on BBC Radio Manchester with weather idol Owain Wyn Evans. The show will feature a selection of LGBTQ+ faces discussing their memories of prides gone by with music in mind.
The show will also be dotted with highlights from archive performances from past years’ Manchester Pride Festivals, and will include shows from Years & Years, Melanie C and Rita Ora.
Sunday will play host to Youth Pride MCR and Superbia content including films and in conversations with artists including Queer As Folk and Doctor Who creator Russell T Davies.
The GMCA streaming platform United We Stream GM is free to watch but fans are encouraged to donate to Manchester Pride via the United We Stream GM page.
“This has been a very strange year both for us and the LGBTQ+ people that we exist to support,” said Mark Fletcher, chief executive for Manchester Pride.
“It was so important to me and my team that we delivered an LGBTQ+ celebration that we could all be proud of and I think this programme does just that.
“With fantastic new performances from many of our favourite artists including some of the very best talent Manchester’s LGBTQ+ communities have to offer the weekend promises something for everyone.
“Whilst we’re not able to come together for any physical events this year, it’s been great working with the team at United We Stream to set up our very own studio in KAMPUS so that our heart remains Manchester’s Gay Village.”
Every year the candlelit vigil provides a moment of reflection to close Manchester Pride Festival and 2020 will continue this tradition.
At 9pm on Monday 31st August the alternative Candlelit Vigil will, as always, offer LGBTQ+ people the chance to take a minute to remember those lost to the HIV virus as LGBTQ+ people join together to fight the epidemic worldwide, and the stigma that still exists.
As the event will be streamed online, the team behind it have devised a number of ways in which LGBTQ+ people can get involved so that they can continue to feel connected to this important moment.
Viewers will have two options: they can watch the event via United We Stream, or for a more intimate experience they can join the Zoom screening where they will be able to light a candle, share a message of hope or make a heart as an offering to connect them with the wider communities.
“The vigil provides a beautiful and calming moment of reflection after what is always a very hectic celebration,” said Mark.
“It reminds us of where we have been and sets our intentions for where we are going. For me this was the one event that we would love to have delivered as an actual event if we could but sadly circumstances will not allow it.
“However we have worked closely with Kate O’Donnell from Trans Creative and theatre producer Nathaniel Hall to produce a virtual experience that we know will bring LGBTQ+ people across Manchester together even though they are sadly apart.
“I hope to see many candles, hearts and familiar faces as we remember those lost and look to the challenges of the future.”
Anyone who wishes to remember someone they have lost or celebrate those who have supported people affected either by the COVID-19 or HIV pandemic is invited to share a photograph in advance to be shown on the night – they can do so by sending it to [email protected].