Chicago is one of the best places in the US on a normal day. But when Pride comes around, it transforms into a veritable LGBTI heaven.
Taking place in June every year, the city ignites for a month of love, acceptance, and unabashed celebration. The parade marches through the city. The bars of Boystown and Andersonville fill with people partying. We remember those we’ve lost and cheer for those who are here.
It’s really the most magical time of the year. Despite all this, people might still be apprehensive about coming to Chicago for Pride 2019. So if you really need proof that the Windy City throws the best party around, here’s 8 reasons why Chicago Pride should be the number one destination for all LGBTI people this Pride season.
And with the celebrations marking 50 years since the first ever march in Chicago, this year is going to be more special than ever.
1 The parade
The most important part of any Pride is the parade. The original Chicago march started on 27 June 1970 and walked from Washington Square Park to the Water Tower. It now sprawls for four miles, traveling through Boystown, Uptown, Lakeview, and ending in Lincoln Park.
Also, it’s now filled with amazing floats from a spectacular array of organizations and LGBTI people. This year it’s held on Sunday 30 June, with over a million people expected to watch.
2 Chicago Pride Fest
The weekend before the annual parade (22 to 23 June), Boystown is host to one of the most exciting LGBTI parties of the calendar: Pride Fest. When they say festival, they mean festival, as the event is expected to bring in 100,000 people. There’s live music spread across four stages, food and drink, over 100 different vendors selling arts and crafts and more.
You’ll also get the chance to be center of attention at the Out At Wrigley National Anthem Singing Contest.
Pride without music is a Pride not going to. This year, Pride Fest has some of the hottest LGBTI artists on their stage, including Leann Rimes, Pabllo Vitta, Alex Newall, Ultra Naté and Jamie Wilson.
3 Pride in the Park
The historic Grant Park is hosting its first ever LGBTI festival this year. Held on 29 June, Pride in the Park has a big line up, with Iggy Azalea and Steve Aoki headlining. Alongside the music, there’s food from Chicago’s outstanding restaurant scene, performers and fireworks.
5 Andersonville Midsommarfest
Chicago’s lesbian district gets in on the party with its own three-day festival for Pride month. Taking pace on the 7, 8, and 9 June, the LGBTI community and our allies gather in Andersonville for live music, international food, over 100 artisan booths – and all with a Swedish twist.
6 Proud to Run Chicago
For those looking for a Pride activity with a little less noise, and a whole lot more physical activity, look no further. Now in it’s 38th year, the Proud run has raised nearly $600,000 for causes like the Gender Cool Project, LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and HOME.
The route will take you across the lakefront and you can opt for a 5k, 10k or (if you’re brave) a half marathon. As it takes place on 29 June, you can celebrate at the parade the next day.
7 The people
While amazing live acts and spectacular floats in the parade are a sight to behold, there’s one thing that brings people back again and again: the people! Chicago becomes one of the friendliest places in the world once Pride comes along. It’s impossible not to be happy, because everyone else is.
8 Chicago and Illinois
But it’s not just about the Pride event. Chicago and Illinois prides itself on accepting LGBTI people all year round. So if you’ve decided to come down for Pride, this is the perfect opportunity to explore the rest of the city – and state.
Whether that’s a road trip down Route 66, a boat tour on Lake Michigan, or taking your partner (or new love of your life) to one of the many romantic hideaways in the state, there’s so much more for you to discover.
This article was sponsored by the Illinois Office of Tourism.