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Manchester Pride festival forced to leave gay village from 2019

The Big Weekend will have to find a new home from next year.

By Will Stroude

Manchester Pride festival has been forced to leave its home in the city’s gay village from 2019.

The annual four-day festival, known as The Big Weekend, has taken place for more than 25 years in the streets surrounding Manchester’s iconic Canal Street. 

However, a new property development approved by the city’s council on the Sackville Street car park, which currently houses the Thomas Cook Airlines Main Stage, mean that from next there will be no space to host the festival, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors.

Manchester Pride’s chief executive, Mark Fletcher, explained: “A number of reasons have led to our making this decision for 2019, in order to avoid disappointing our audience in the future. 

“There has been speculation about the developments in the Portland Street and gay village area for some time. A number of developments are now underway in spaces that were previously used for event infrastructure.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to plan and deliver The Big Weekend in a space that is decreasing in size. Next year there will be more developments taking shape that will further reduce the space available for us to deliver a safe event to the current scale.   

“In addition to this, and equally impactful, is that the terms for the use of the privately owned spaces that house our Main Arena and Dance Arena have changed. Essentially this means that we cannot be certain that we’ll be able to use these areas up until three months before the event is scheduled to take place.

The Sackville Street car park which currently houses the Thomas Cook Airlines Main Stage.


“We simply cannot take the risk of disappointing the tens of thousands of people who come along to experience the first class entertainment provided in these spaces.”

This year’s Big Weekend Festival is set to take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend (24-27 August), with stars including Rita Ora, Alexandra Burke and Jake Shears set to performduring what will now be the festival’s final year in the gay village.

Manchester Pride bosses insist that despite the changes to come, the gay village will continue play an important role during Pride in the years to come.

“It’s true that Pride will never look the same again – it can’t as there simply won’t be the space”, said Mr Fletcher. “But this doesn’t mean we will be turning our back on the neighbourhood which LGBT+ people have fought so hard to create as a safe space. 

“There will always be a role for Manchester’s unique gay village in the celebration.”