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Manchester Pride confirms the festival will be happening this year

Some more good news

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Manchester Pride has today confirmed the good news that it will be going ahead this year.

Plans for a physical festival to celebrate LGBTQ+ life in Greater Manchester are coming together for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

The charity is planning to hold the Manchester Pride Festival, in partnership with Virgin Atlantic, in its regular spot from Friday August 27th until Monday August 30th. 

On Monday Boris Johnson outlined England’s roadmap out of lockdown, with the plan that live events will be able return this summer. 

But with the pandemic always front of mind, Manchester Pride has revealed that it has alternative exciting plans which can be activated if the proposed dates for the roadmap out of lockdown change.

The four day event, which brings thousands of people to the city centre each year, is set to return for another weekend of campaigning, celebrating and fundraising for LGBTQ+ life, featuring activism, equality, youth and family, arts and culture, community and partying.

The team behind the festival is working towards a programme of events that includes all of the traditional elements, with some tweaks and allowances for the new restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The biggest difference will be a reduced capacity MCR Pride Live, which in response to audience feedback will be held at a smaller venue to ensure that the event is accessible, safe and viable. 

To ensure the safety and comfort of festival-goers, artists and the Manchester Pride team the event’s capacity will be reduced by 50% – the venue will be revealed later this year.

Manchester Pride Festival 2021 will be made up of:

  • THE GAY VILLAGE PARTY, 27th–30th August 2021
  • MCR PRIDE LIVE, 28th– 29th August 2021
  • MANCHESTER PRIDE PARADE, 28th August 2021
  • THE CANDLELIT VIGIL, 30th August 2021
  • SUPERBIA WEEKEND, 28th- 29th August 2021
  • HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM, 29th August 2021
  • YOUTH PRIDE MCR, 29th August 2021
  • FAMILY PRIDE MCR, 28th August 2021
  • + MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED

Mark Fletcher, CEO of Manchester Pride, said: “Manchester Pride is proud to part of a global Pride movement that celebrates advancements in equality and challenges discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people. As both a charity and organisers one of the UK’s largest Pride festivals, we had to fight for our survival throughout 2020.

“Having to postpone the Manchester Pride Festival in 2020 was necessary but extremely hard for myself and the team and I am so pleased that we are able to plan for an event in 2021. Naturally there is some uncertainty over what will happen in the coming months but we have to plan now in order to be able to deliver a festival of this scale.

“We are confident that by reducing the capacity of MCR Pride Live we can deliver the event, as long as the government’s plans for vaccinations and reopening of events and hospitality remain on track. With the health and safety of everyone involved our key priority, we remain cautiously optimistic and have plans in place to respond to a number of potential scenarios.

“Whatever happens Manchester Pride will deliver a celebration of LGBTQ+ life in Greater Manchester this August and we will do everything we can to make it a Covid safe, live, in person event across the city. 

“If this just isn’t possible then we will host an alternative, innovative, world class celebration that incorporates socially distanced events and digital elements to ensure that LGBTQ+ people in Greater Manchester can come together to celebrate and ensure that our campaign for greater LGBTQ+ equality continues at this vital time.”

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic added: “We’re delighted that the Manchester Pride Festival is back for 2021 uniting people to celebrate LGBTQ+ culture. It’s been a difficult year for everyone and we look forward to working with Mark and the team to bring this much-loved festival safely back to the heart of Manchester.

“Virgin Atlantic has long been staunch supporters of LGBTQ+ rights and we strongly believe in making our business as inclusive and welcoming as possible. Although we haven’t been flying as many passengers as we’d like over the last year, we certainly haven’t been sitting still. 

“We are working with Open for Business to show the economic impact that anti-LGBTQ+ laws have on countries around the world and how these laws restrict tourism and limit growth.  In a post-Covid world, as travel and tourism recovers, it’s more important than ever for destinations to be open and welcoming to everyone.  

“It’s an exciting time for us and as travel restrictions relax, we look forward to welcoming people back onboard Virgin Atlantic, flying them safely from Manchester to their favourite destinations including  Orlando, Barbados, New York , Los Angeles, Islamabad and Atlanta.”

Tickets for all events, from Superbia Weekend to Youth Pride MCR, will be released over the next few months so keep your eyes peeled.

For those who bought tickets for the events due to take place in 2020, tickets were automatically rolled over to 2021. 

Should the event be cancelled or rescheduled, all tickets will be automatically rolled over to 2022, and anyone who doesn’t want to roll forward their ticket will have the option for a refund at face value. 

For more information about the festival, head over to the website here.

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Blackpool Illuminations to be extended again after huge visitor surge

You’ll have plenty of time to take your kids and reminisce about school trips.

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Blackpool Illuminations is to have the length of its famous winter illuminations attraction — enjoyed by generations of families from across the North West — extended even further after a surge in visitors.

Blackpool Council have said they saw a ‘dramatic rise’ in visitor numbers in last year’s extension. This year, the iconic lights are set to run for an extra two months starting from September 1st until January 1st 2024.

The local authority said a similar November and December extension in 2022 had seen an 18% increase in promenade footfall compared with 2021, with its leader Lynn Williams saying it had found a  ‘winning formula’.

Councillor Lynn Williams said: “The figures demonstrate the very significant economic impact of the Illuminations extension coupled with the Christmas By The Sea event.”

Kmtextore/Wikimedia

She continued: “All of the statistical and anecdotal evidence from tourism businesses, with some reporting record levels of trading during the winter months, suggests that we have found a winning formula to extend Blackpool’s season.

“That is something we very much want to sustain and build upon.”

The footfall also shows an increase of almost 60 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, when the illuminations season finished in November.

The (what’s now a) six-mile stretch of dazzling displays first began 1879 — when they were just a small number of carbon arc lamps — and have since been enjoyed by generations upon generations of people.

Taking children to see Blackpool illuminations is a tradition that brings grown adults back with littles ones of their own, as they experience nostalgia.

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The haunted hotel room where guests have to sign a disclaimer to spend the night

‘For people who’ve not done this before it could be dangerous.’

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My Haunted Hotel

Guests must sign a disclaimer before staying the night in a room at a haunted hotel in Chester.

The 401-year-old building spooks customers, and they rarely stay more than three minutes inside one creepy room at Ye Olde Kings Head, on Lower Bridge Street.

This one room in particular is so eerie that only experienced paranormal investigators are allowed into it. But the professionals will have to sign a disclaimer to spend the night, according to Cheshire Live.

In room eight lives a doll called Grace, housed inside a special glass case, and guests reportedly can last no longer than three minutes with her before they’re scared out of their wits. A special camera has been set up to monitor it 24/7 after it arrived at the hotel in January.

My Haunted Hotel

Paranormal investigator Danny Moss, one of the team members behind My Haunted Hotel at Ye Olde Kings Head, called the Grace doll the ‘UK’s most haunted artefact’, saying:  “Since it arrived in January we’ve already had people really struggling to stay in room eight. It seems to really affect men rather than women.”

He continued: “We’ve had men go in there and they can’t look at it. They feel anxious and have to get out, struggling to last even three minutes.
People are hearing the sound of three knocks which is meant to signify the mocking of the Holy Trinity. Some people have also experienced their eyes burning.

“That happened to me a few years ago when we kept it at Tatton Old Hall. I heard an entity say ‘burn’ and I said ‘what?’ and my eyes felt like someone was chopping onions. We’ve got video footage showing people really scared to go into that room and others with noises coming from it.

“There are a set of rules outside room eight, including people having to call out an audio disclaimer before they’re even allowed in. Room eight is only open to experienced people. For people who’ve not done this before it could be dangerous.”

My Haunted Hotel

The hotel has gained a very spooky reputation over the years for its paranormal activity and has even featured on TV show Most Haunted as well as Sky Pick’s Paranormal.

It was bought by paranormal enthusiast Harry Achilleos 15 years ago and his dream has been to turn it into a top dark tourism destination.

Harry Achilleos, who runs My Haunted Hotel alongside Danny and Brett Jones, also said: “Having the Grace doll in the building just takes My Haunted Hotel to a whole new level.”

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Contact returns with its annual Vogue Ball for LGBTQ+ festival 2023

Make sure you don’t miss this!

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Contact

For its 50th anniversary, Contact is set to return with its annual House of Suarez’s Vogue Ball, celebrating the most extraordinary and exciting LGBTQ+ talent, as part of the Queer Contact festival.

Running from February 4th – 18th, Queer Contact festival 2023 will be bigger and brighter than ever, with Drag Race royalty gracing the stage and its annual extra, show-stopping Vogue Ball, presented by House of Suarez , kick-starting a two weeks celebration of queer artistry.

Set to be even more fierce and fabulous, highlights will include Drag Race UK’s talented queens Ginny Lemon and Sister Sister, as well as an evening in conversation with Heartstopper actor and Contact alumni Fisayo Akinade. 

Along with the outrageous cabaret Vogue Ball — a yearly highlight for fans of Contact — which will take place at Manchester Academy, it will travel back to the glorious decade of disco for a night of glitter and glam MCed by the iconic, Rikki Beadle-Blair. 

Contact

Houses from across the UK compete for the coveted titles of best choreography and best design — awarded by an esteemed panel of judges — as they pose and perform in an unapologetic celebration of inclusivity, queerness, and diversity.

Ginny Lemon and Sister Sister, the breakout stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK Season 2, will not fail to live up to their reputations as the most despised queens, as they try to bring the most disappointing drag show you’ve ever seen to the Manchester Stage — as part of their, You Keep Me Hanging On Tour.

In their debut for Queer Contact, this will mark the duo’s first joint show, and promises to be hilarious, if average.

 François Pandolfo

To add another festival highlight, Heartstopper and Cucumber actor Fisayo Akinade will also explore the many different elements that have influenced his life and career. Inspired by Contact’s celebration of its 50th anniversary, an In Conversation with Contact’s artistic director and CEO, Keisha Thompson, will see her talk with him about the 50 things that shaped his career.

One of the breakout comedy acts from the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, comedy performer François Pandolfo will make his debut at this year’s Queer Contact as Milly-Liu, with his ‘one-man-cat-drag-late-night comedy show.’ Join her as she is ready to spill the beans on all your favourite celebrity pussies. 

You can also jump onboard the queerest Tardis with Doctor Who inspired entertainment by Carrot and Friends. Be transported through time and space with their cosmic comedy as you experience dimension-defying drag, stratospheric stand-up, burlesque to make a Cyberman blush, and an oncoming storm of many other surprises.

Cocoa Butter Club

Bradford’s bad girl Lady Bursha will bring her hilarious and iconic drag queen comedy to the stage. Shortlisted for the 2021 BBC New Comedy Awards, Lady Bushra is the brainchild of British Asian comedian Amir. His alter ego Lady Bushra is known for her stand-up comedy, ingenious lipsync performances and one-liners, often seen performing her sold out ‘Drag Comedy Cabaret’ across the nation.

Other cabaret and comedy highlights include a night with the Cocoa Butter Club, an evening in the company of The Bitter Peach’s Peach Chutney Crew, and Luke Hereford brings their autobiographical musical adventures on their journey of queer self-discovery. 

CEO and Artistic Director Keisha Thompson said: “We’re so excited to be bringing the best in LGBTQ+ arts and culture together once again for Queer Contact 2023. Our flagship queer arts festival has been central to our mission and vision for over a decade and will continue to cement our spot on Manchester’s cultural map for many more decades to come.

“In 2023, as we celebrate our 50th birthday, Queer Contact is characterised by joy; from a Dr Who-themed cabaret to an evening with Heartstopper’s Fisayo Akinade, we’re here to platform a huge spectrum of queer lived experience; focusing on kindness, community and celebration.”

Tickets for Queer Contact 2023 are now on sale and can be booked via Contact’s website.

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