The organisers of Harrogate’s Pride in Diversity festival say this year’s event could be the most spectacular yet, with new major backing secured from some of the town’s biggest players in the world of art, entertainment and leisure.
As well as the unforgettable parade down Montpellier with a 50-metre rainbow flag, and the packed programme of live music and entertainment that follows in Valley Gardens, the third Pride in Diversity festival on June 15 will enjoy amazing support from Harrogate Theatre, Victoria Shopping Centre and Harrogate Film Society.
The shopping centre will be illuminated with rainbow lighting to celebrate the arrival of the festival, whilst Harrogate Theatre is hosting a Pride Fringe Festival from June 11-18, which promises to present five of the best shows about owning our identity and having the freedom to be ourselves.
Harrogate Film Society has also embraced the festival by organising some special film screenings to mark the occasion.
The music line-up for this year’s Pride in Diversity is shaping up to be an exciting one, too - with confirmed acts including Loud Noises, Riley Vyrus, Smashby, Rufus Beckett, Leon Marshall, Amy G, Dave and Jody Sowden, and Rory Hoy, with local celebrity DJ Trev at the helm.
The chair of Pride in Diversity, Leonora Wassell, said: “It’s been exciting to see Harrogate embracing diversity and what we stand for. Harrogate is known for its welcome, and we want to see that welcome for everybody.
“Bullies are cowards - if you stand together and show that you are not alone, the bullies will run away. We want the festival to make people feel accepted and included.
“There is still a way to go, and although this is a celebration of diversity and the LGBT community, there is also still a campaigning element to it - to come together to help stamp out hatred and intolerance.”
Although Pride in Diversity is not a religious event, Leonora hopes it’s an event that will bring comfort and positivity to religious people in the LGBT community.
She said: “We want to show that all are welcome - you can be a person of faith and be part of the LGBT community, even though there is still prejudice out there, and some people say you can only be one or the other.”
The festival starts with a civic service of celebration with mayors and dignitaries at The Sun Pavilion from 10am, followed by the usual spectacular parade from the top of Montpellier Hill at 12pm, led by a brightly-decorated Transdev bus and a jazz band.
Dozens of community groups, schools and Harrogate organisations are expected to take part.
From 12.30pm to 6pm, Valley Gardens will be filled with a feast of entertainment, stalls and live music for the Pride in Diversity Festival’s party in the park.
The manager of Victoria Shopping Centre, James White, said: “Here at Victoria Shopping Centre, we find it very important that all shoppers feel welcome.
“This is why we are showing our support for Harrogate’s Pride in Diversity on Saturday 15 June. Face painting and glitter make-up will be available throughout the day from White Rose Beauty College, and on the lead up to the event we will also be showcasing four of the rainbow colours throughout our external and internal lighting.
“C&M Creamery Ices will also be at the centre on Saturday 1 June, with their iconic rainbow cones - wristbands will be available to purchase too from the piazza area outside the centre.
"We hope you can join us to celebrate diversity and inclusion.”
How you can support this year's Pride in Diversity Festival
Organisers would also love to see more schools and community groups taking part in this year's parade, and Pride in Diversity also needs more sponsors from the Harrogate business community. Can you help? Email email@example.com to find out more about sponsorship opportunities or taking part in the parade, or call 07475 353235.
Readers can also show their support for the festival by attending a fundraising pub quiz at Montey’s Rock Cafe on May 12 with DJ Trev, starting at 7.45pm.