The Pride in London festival is now in full swing. It will culminate this weekend with the Pride parade through central London on Saturday, main stage entertainment in Trafalgar Square and UK Black Pride on Sunday.
However, there are many, many other events and ways to commemorate Pride in London – from the hedonistic to the cultured to the downright bizarre. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Step back in time to 1967 with Duckie
The Duckie club crew have been packing out the Royal Vauxhall Tavern every Saturday for over 20 years. For Pride, they are throwing a Duckie DeCrim, commemorating 50 years since the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England. Expect ‘Dog Rough 1967 Drag’, plenty of classic 1960s pop and polari.
2. Have a glitter makeover at Starbucks
Glitter ‘glam stops’ will operate in five central London Starbucks on Saturday (8 July), offering free glitter makeovers from professional make-up artists for Pride. Starbucks stores along the parade route will also be serving Frappuccinos with rainbow sprinkles. Starbucks is a gold sponsor of this year’s festival.
3. Get hot with Her
Her, the dating app for Queer women is hosting their biggest party of the year at the Village Underground in East London. Expect an amazing mix of DJs and live music performances.
4. Hear a rehearsed reading of Bent at National Theatre
The National Theatre will host a reading of Martin Sherman’s classic play, Bent, on Sunday 9 July at 2.30pm. The reading has been directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot), and will be followed by a Q&A with Daldry (pictured above), playwright Sherman and Michael Cashman. Bent reflects on the persecution of gay men during Nazi Germany.
5. Enjoy a Pride Brunch with Naked Boys Reading
The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch hosts a Pride brunch at noon on Saturday 8 July with literary entertainment from the Naked Boys Reading team. And yes, that does basically consist of naked men reading excerpts from books and other writings. The event takes place on the rooftop, and promises ‘delicious food, strong cocktails and hard literature!’ Tickets cost £37.42.
6. Wig Out! at the National Theatre
Written by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, acclaimed 2008 show Wig Out! depicts a battle for drag supremacy at a vogue ball. The show is returning for a night (7 July) as part of the National Theatre’s Queer Theatre season, in partnership with Pride in London.
No one wants to go home before 1am, so head on down to women’s venue SHE bar, Old Compton Street, Soho, on Pride day where they’re open until 3am with the best queer DJs London has to offer.
8. Choose Love with Smirnoff
Smirnoff host a pop-up art exhibition, Choose Love, today (7 July) from noon-8pm at Kachette, 347 Old Street, EC1V 9LP. The artwork has been created by artists when they’ve encountered online hate or prejudice, and responded by posting #ChooseLove images.
9. Dalston Superstore’s Queer Space
The team at Dalston Superstore in East London present a collection of ‘queer ephemera, archives and artefacts’ from the 20th century – stretching from the 1930s to present day. The free exhibition runs until September. On Pride night itself, Dalston Superstore hosts a fundraiser for the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group. Recuperate on Sunday at the Pride brunch session from noon onwards.
10. Butch up at Butch Pride
The Glory in Dalston hosts a one-off Butch Pride night for lesbians and their friends, in conjunction with promoters Butch, Please. Explore butch and femme identities and fantasies, with help from drag kings and burlesque performer Rubyyy Jones. It’s on Saturday night (8 July) from 8pm onwards.
11. UK Black Pride
UK Black Pride will be taking over Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, behind the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, on Sunday (9 July) between noon and 9.30pm. Admission is free, with entertainment running throughout the afternoon.
12. Pose under the giant rainbow Carnaby Street sign
Carnaby Street is famous the world over. For Pride week, it’s changed it famous Carnaby Street sign into a rainbow, making for the perfect Instagram moment.
13. Check out the rainbow-lit Houses of Parliament
For the first time ever, the UK’s Houses of Parliament are to be lit in rainbow colors to coincide with Pride. The rainbow flag will be beamed on to the river front of the Palace of Westminster. The best view will be across the Thames from the Southbank and from Westminster Bridge.
14. Queer British Art at Tate Britain
To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of gay sex in 1967, Tate Britain is hosting a major exhibition looking back at art by queer British artists from between 1861 and 1967. Artists in the show include John Singer Sargent, Dora Carrington, Duncan Grant and David Hockney. Entry is £16.50 – and it runs until 1 October.
15. Free entry at G-A-Y
One of London’s biggest LGBTI club nights, G-A-Y at Heaven is offering free admission on Pride night. Pick up a free admission wristband in advance from the G-A-Y Bar on Old Compton Street.
16. Debbie does the Eagle
17. Bear madness at XXL
Join the big boys at the world’s biggest weekly bear club. XXL in Southwark marks Pride with a fundraiser for the Peter Tatchell Foundation and special guest DJ Pagano.
18. Catch a performance by Amanda Lepore
US trans model and queer icon Amanda Lepore (above) will take to the stage at WUT?CLUB x Milkshake’s Official Pride In London party at The Steelyard in East London. The muse of gay photographer David LaChapelle is the star attraction of a night which will also feature an appearance from NYC queen Aquaria.
19. Head to the Official Pride In London afterparty
Taking place at the Coronet Theatre in Elephant and Castle is Beyond Once Upon a Time Powered by Scruff. The official Pride In London afterparty has a fairytale theme, and will be soundtracked by the likes of Steve Pitron, Lee Harris and Michel Mizrahi. Expect a mammoth 2,600 partygoers!
20. Take a ‘Pride at Parliament’ tour
The Houses of Parliament, for the first time, will be in lit in the colors of the rainbow flag this weekend. Parliament will also host special ‘Pride at Parliament’ tours, to commemorate 50 years since the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 on Saturday at 9.40am and 12noon. Tickets cost £25.50
21. Queer History at the British Museum
The British Museum in Bloomsbury hosts ‘Desire, Love, Identity: Exploring LGBTQ Histories’ to commemorate 50 years since the passing of the sexual offences act in 1967. The show includes objects from around the world that explore or depict same-sex love – from ancient times to the modern day. Catch it running until 15 October – admission free (but donations encouraged).
Didn’t manage to catch Moonlight during its big screen run? The Prince Charles Cinema, off Leicester Square, hosts a screening on Sunday (9 July) at 3.30pm. The screening is presented by Unicorn Nights, as part of the Pride in London and UK Black Pride festivals.