The Complete Guide for LGBTQ+ Pride Festivals and Parades

A comprehensive guide to navigating and celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride events, from history to preparation and beyond with tips, resources and inspiration.

By Ryan Walker in Advocacy
Updated May 4, 2023 · Published April 30, 2023
Estimated read time: 13 minutes

Two rainbow-colored LGBTQ+ pride flags waving in the air

Pride festivals and parades are essential celebrations of the LGBTQ+ community, bringing people together to show support, raise awareness, and have fun.

If you're planning to attend a pride event, this guide has you covered! We'll walk you through everything you need to know, from choosing the right event to attending the parade and enjoying the festivities.

  Introduction to Pride Festivals and Parades

Pride festivals and parades are more than just colorful celebrations; they have a rich history rooted in activism and social change.

Understanding the history behind Pride events can give you a deeper appreciation for the significance of these celebrations.

First, we'll take a closer look at the history of Pride events, including the events that led up to the Stonewall riots, the importance of LGBTQ+ pride, and the evolution of Pride celebrations around the world.

Let's dive into the rich history of Pride events, and learn more about the significance of this global movement.

Prefer to watch or listen? Check out Logo's How to Pride: The Logo30's Guide to Pride for more tips on navigating LGBTQ+ pride festivals!

What is a Pride Event?

Before we dive into the history of Pride events, it's important to understand what Pride means.

At their core, Pride events are about celebrating diversity and promoting visibility for a community that has historically been marginalized and oppressed. They also serve as a platform to highlight ongoing struggles for LGBTQ+ rights and equality and to push for greater social and political change.

Usually held during June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969, they often include parades, festivals, rallies, and other activities to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and provide opportunities for community members to come together.

Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or an ally, attending a Pride festival and parade is a powerful way to show your support, connect with others, and celebrate the diversity of the human experience.

History of Pride Events

Pride events have a rich history dating back to the 1970s when the first Pride marches were held in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. However, their start can be traced back to the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City.

Patrons walking past and sitting at The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York

The Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, was raided by police, sparking protests and clashes between LGBTQ+ patrons and law enforcement officials.

The riots lasted for several days and are widely regarded as a turning point in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. They helped to galvanize the LGBTQ+ community and spark a wave of activism and organizing across the United States.

In 1970, the first official Pride event, known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, was organized in New York City. The march was a commemoration of the Stonewall riots and aimed to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and demand greater rights and visibility for the community.

Today, Pride festivals and parades are more than just a celebration of LGBTQ+ culture and identity; they are a powerful symbol of progress, solidarity, and resilience in the face of ongoing discrimination and oppression.

Importance of Pride Events for the LGBTQ+ Community

Pride events are incredibly important for the LGBTQ+ community, providing a vital platform for visibility, advocacy, and celebration. Here are a few reasons why Pride events matter:

  • Visibility: Pride events help to increase the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community, promoting greater awareness and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues and experiences. They also provide a space for LGBTQ+ individuals to be seen and heard, challenging stereotypes and stigma.
  • Advocacy: Pride events are a powerful platform for advocacy and activism, providing an opportunity to push for greater LGBTQ+ rights, protections, and inclusion. Many Pride events feature speakers, rallies, and demonstrations focused on issues such as anti-discrimination laws, healthcare, and education.
  • Community: Pride events foster a sense of community and belonging, providing a space for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies to connect and support one another. They also offer a chance to celebrate LGBTQ+ culture and history, highlighting the contributions and achievements of the community.
  • Empowerment: Attending a Pride event can be a deeply empowering experience, especially for those who have experienced discrimination or marginalization. Seeing a sea of rainbow flags and hearing messages of love and acceptance can be incredibly affirming and validating, helping individuals feel seen, heard, and celebrated.

Overall, Pride events are a powerful tool for promoting LGBTQ+ rights, visibility, and inclusion. They are a celebration of diversity, community, and resilience, and play a vital role in the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ+ equality.

  Choosing Which Pride Event to Attend

Once you've decided to attend a Pride event, the next step is to choose which one to go to. With so many different events taking place around the world, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you.

One important factor to consider is location. Are you looking for an event close to home or are you willing to travel? If you're interested in attending a larger event, you may need to plan farther in advance and be prepared to navigate crowds and potential logistical challenges.

Another consideration is the size and scope of the event. Some Pride events are smaller, more intimate gatherings, while others are massive celebrations that draw thousands of attendees. Think about what kind of experience you're looking for and what will make you feel most comfortable and included.

It's also worth researching the specific focus or theme of each Pride event. Some events may center around particular issues or identities, such as Trans Pride or Black Pride, while others may have a broader focus on LGBTQ+ culture and history.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose an event that feels welcoming, safe, and affirming to you. Don't be afraid to reach out to organizers or attend informational sessions to learn more about what to expect and whether a particular event is a good fit for you.

Local Pride Events

Many cities and towns hold their own Pride events, which can be a great way to get involved in your local LGBTQ+ community. Local events may be smaller and more intimate than larger Pride festivals, but they can still offer a rich and rewarding experience.

Local Pride Events typically have an attendance of around 10,000 people. Some examples of Local Pride Events include Orange County Pride and Virginia Pride.

Regional Pride Events

If you're looking for a larger event, regional Pride festivals may be a good choice. These events often draw people from across the region and can include parades, concerts and other activities.

Regional Pride Events typically have an attendance around between 50,000 and 100,000 people. Some examples of Regional Pride Events include San Diego Pride and LA Pride.

National or International Pride Events

For the ultimate Pride experience, consider attending a national or international Pride event. These events are typically larger and more elaborate than local or regional events, and they can offer a chance to connect with LGBTQ+ individuals from all over the world.

National or international pride events can have attendee counts in the millions. The most well-known national and international pride events include São Paulo Gay Pride Parade and New York City Pride.

  Preparing for the Festival

Attending a Pride festival and parade can be a thrilling experience, but it's important to prepare properly to ensure a fun and safe time. Here are some key things to consider when preparing for the event:

Planning Ahead

By taking the time to plan and prepare properly, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable Pride festival and parade experience.

  • Research the event: Before attending the Pride festival, research the schedule of events and plan your visit accordingly. Familiarize yourself with the route of the parade and decide which events and activities you want to participate in.
  • Dress up: Pride festivals are a celebration of diversity and self-expression, so don't be afraid to get creative with your attire! Wear colorful and fun outfits or accessorize with Pride flags and symbols to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Bring your supplies: It's always a good idea to bring your water, snacks, sunscreen, and any necessary medication to keep yourself hydrated and protected from the sun.
  • Plan your transportation: Consider taking public transportation or carpooling to the event to avoid traffic and parking issues.
  • Check your phone battery: Make sure your phone is fully charged or bring a portable charger to stay connected throughout the event.
  • Have a meeting spot: In case you get separated from your group or lose your phone, it's always a good idea to have a designated meeting spot to regroup and reconnect.

Getting Tickets

Many Pride events require attendees to purchase tickets, whether they are for a specific event or the entire festival. However, some events may offer free admission or have suggested donation fees.

To ensure you have the latest information on tickets, be sure to check the event's website or social media accounts. Some events may offer early-bird discounts or special deals for buying tickets in advance, so it's always a good idea to plan.

Even if the event is free to attend, it's still a good idea to RSVP or register to help organizers anticipate the number of attendees.

The parade is usually always free to attend at every pride event.

Packing the Essentials

Pride events can get crowded, so pack light and only bring the essentials. Consider bringing a small backpack or fanny pack to carry your belongings and avoid carrying a heavy purse or bag.

Make sure to check the weather forecast before attending the event, and pack accordingly. Bring rain gear, a hat, or a jacket, depending on the forecast.

Some Pride events may not accept credit or debit cards, so bring cash for food, drinks, and souvenirs. The opposite may also apply where only digital payments are accepted so plan accordingly.

Dress Code and Outfit Ideas

Pride events are all about self-expression, so your outfit is the perfect opportunity to showcase your unique style and personality.

Whether you want to go bold and bright or keep it more subdued, there are plenty of ways to show your pride through your clothing choices. From rainbow flag capes to glittery accessories, the options are endless.

If you're looking for some outfit inspiration, look no further than Outtire! Our LGBTQ+ pride apparel is perfect for events like pride festivals. With a range of sizes, styles, and colors, you're sure to find something that suits your style.

And not only will you look amazing, but you'll also be supporting a brand that is committed to promoting LGBTQ+ rights and visibility.

LGBTQ+ Flag Meanings and Symbolism

The LGBTQ+ community is represented by a variety of flags, each with its unique meaning and symbolism. Understanding the meanings behind these flags can help deepen your connection to the community and show your support for LGBTQ+ rights.

The most well-known flag is the rainbow flag, which was designed by artist and activist Gilbert Baker in 1978. The flag originally featured eight colors: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic/art, blue for serenity/harmony, violet for spirit, and pink for sexuality.

The pink stripe was later removed due to fabric availability, leaving the six colors we recognize today.

Other flags include the bisexual flag, which features pink, purple, and blue stripes, representing same-gender attraction, opposite-gender attraction, and attraction to both genders, respectively. The transgender flag features light blue, pink, and white stripes, representing the traditional colors for baby boys (blue) and girls (pink), as well as a white stripe for those who are intersex, transitioning, or consider themselves gender-neutral.

By understanding the meanings behind these flags, you can show your support for the LGBTQ+ community and help promote visibility and acceptance.

  Attending the Festival

Now that you've planned and prepared for the event, it's time to actually attend and fully immerse yourself in the festivities!

Attending a pride festival and parade can be an incredibly empowering and uplifting experience, as you join thousands of other individuals in celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.

However, it's important to keep in mind that the event may be overwhelming, especially if it's your first time attending.

But don't worry, we've got you covered with some tips and advice to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. From navigating the crowds to staying hydrated and fed, here's how to make the most out of attending a pride event.

Arrival and Check-in

When you arrive at the Pride event, look for signs or volunteers directing attendees to check in or get your wristband if necessary.

Make sure you have any required tickets or IDs, and be prepared to show them as needed.

Some Pride events can be large and crowded, so it's important to have a plan for navigating the event grounds.

Check the event map beforehand, and familiarize yourself with key landmarks and attractions. Check the website or social media pages for an event map to help you find important locations like restrooms and stages.

Participating in Activities and Events

Pride events offer a wide variety of activities and events, from live music and performances to educational workshops and cultural exhibits.

Take some time to explore the event and participate in activities that interest you.

Finding that Special Someone

While pride events are a great place to meet other members of the LGBTQ+ community, it's important to keep in mind that finding a special someone should not be the main focus of attending a pride festival and parade.

The purpose of these events is to celebrate and embrace the LGBTQ+ community, not solely to find a romantic partner.

That being said, it's not uncommon for attendees to meet someone they're interested in at pride events, especially if it's their first time being around such a large and diverse group of LGBTQ+ people. If you do happen to meet someone, take things slow and make sure you feel comfortable and safe with them.

Remember: consent is key and it's important to communicate your boundaries and respect the boundaries of others.

However, if you attend a pride event with the sole intention of finding someone, you may end up feeling disappointed or unfulfilled.

Instead, try to focus on the overall experience of celebrating and embracing your identity alongside others who share your experiences and struggles. You may be surprised at how fulfilling and empowering this can be.

  Enjoying the Parade

Almost every pride festival includes a free parade for attendees to enjoy. This is often the highlight of the event, as attendees come together to walk the streets and celebrate their identities in a colorful and lively display.

Whether you choose to walk in the parade or simply watch from the sidelines, be sure to take in the sights and sounds of this unique and inspiring event. You'll likely see all kinds of people, from drag queens to families with young children, coming together to celebrate love, acceptance, and diversity.

Parade Route and Schedule

To make the most of your pride parade experience, be sure to check the parade route and schedule ahead of time. This will ensure that you know where to go and what time to arrive so that you don't miss out on any of the excitement.

Viewing Locations and Tips

Finding the perfect viewing spot for the parade can be a challenge, as crowds can be dense and visibility may be limited.

Look for elevated areas or corners with a good view of the parade route, and consider bringing a foldable chair or blanket to sit on.

Parade Etiquette

Respect the parade and other attendees by following parade etiquette.

Avoid blocking the view of others, keep the parade route clear, and remain behind barriers and off the parade route to avoid interfering with the floats or performers.

  After the Festival

After the event, take some time to reflect on the experience and everything you've learned.

You may have made new friends, tried new things, and most importantly, celebrated yourself and the LGBTQ+ community. Use this time to process your feelings and thoughts, and think about what you can take away from the event.

Reflecting on your experience can help you remember the positive aspects of the event and the memories you made. It can also help you to identify areas where you may want to grow or learn more about the community.

Staying Involved with the LGBTQ+ Community

After the pride event has ended, you might want to continue to stay involved in the LGBTQ+ community.

There are many ways to do this, but one easy way is to follow the social media pages of the pride event you attended. They often post about year-round events, volunteer opportunities, and other ways to stay involved.

You can also search for other LGBTQ+ organizations in your area to see how you can get involved with their events and initiatives. Many cities have LGBTQ+ community centers that offer a variety of programs and services, including support groups, educational workshops, art exhibitions and concerts.

Finally, you can volunteer for an LGBTQ+ organization or event. Pride events are often run by volunteers, and many other organizations rely on volunteers to carry out their mission. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and make a difference in the lives of others.

Resources and Organizations for LGBTQ+ Individuals

In addition to attending pride events and joining LGBTQ+ communities, there are numerous resources and organizations available for LGBTQ+ individuals. These organizations provide support, education, and advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and can be an invaluable source of information and assistance.

Here are some examples of LGBTQ+ organizations and charities that are making a positive impact:

  • The Trevor Project: A leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ young people under 25.
  • GLAAD: A media advocacy organization that aims to promote LGBTQ+ visibility and representation in mainstream media. 
  • The Human Rights Campaign: A national LGBTQ+ advocacy group that works to advance policies and laws that support LGBTQ+ equality.
  • Trans Lifeline: A national organization that provides support and resources to transgender individuals, including a hotline staffed by trans-identified volunteers.
  • Black Trans Femmes in the Arts: A non-profit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for Black trans femmes and non-binary artists.
  • The Okra Project: A collective that seeks to address the unique needs of Black trans people by providing home-cooked meals and resources for trans people of color.
  • Transgender Law Center: This organization advocates for the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming people through legal services and policy advocacy.
  • The Ali Forney Center: a nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness.

These organizations are just a few examples of the many resources available for LGBTQ+ individuals. By supporting these organizations and others like them, we can help create a more inclusive and accepting world for all.


Attending an LGBTQ+ pride festival and parade can be a truly transformative experience, filled with excitement, love, and acceptance.

By following the tips and advice in this guide, you can make the most out of your pride experience and continue to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Remember to always be respectful, have fun, and celebrate diversity. Whether you're attending a local parade or a large-scale festival, pride events are an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and embrace your true self.