What to do this Pride weekend

It’s almost here, one of the best weekends in the year – yes, it’s Brighton & Hove Pride! No shade, but we all know Brighton throws the best Pride celebration in the world. Are you ready for a sparkly weekend of love, fundraising and celebration 50+ years on from the Stonewall riots that changed gay history? We sure as hell are.

But did you know why Brighton is so famous for our particularly diverse, vibrant and inclusive celebrations?

The city has a long history of being a welcoming and accepting place for the LGBTQ+ community. Brighton has been a hub for LGBTQ+ activism and culture since the 19th century. In fact, it was one of the first cities in the UK to have a gay pub, and hosted one of the first LGBTQ+ Pride events in the UK, with its first official Pride march taking place in 1973.

The Sussex Beacon, a local charity, became the first AIDS hospice in the country, offering care and compassion during the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. That spirit of unity, support and defiance against discrimination still runs deep in our city.

Brief history lesson over, read on for some of the best Pride events to take you through the weekend.

We know music is the food of love (thanks, Shakespeare) and Pride is all about love, so we’d recommend getting in the mood with a party-starting Pride playlist and 201 Dance Company’s fabulous Pride protest video. And look out for Brighton landmarks, like the Royal Pavilion and The Grand hotel, getting illuminated rainbow-style for the weekend!

A sporting chance

If you feel in the mood to get some fun exercise in via the medium of sporty fun and games before a weekend of hard partying, then sign up for the Brighton and Hove Rainbow Run (skipping is entirely ok, too) on Friday, with a proportion of the £17 ticket sales going to the Brighton Rainbow Fund. The colourful fun is hosted by Brighton drag queen Mable and there’s a live DJ set by Gaydio, too, with a medal for everyone and special prizes for the best fancy dress. (Hove Park; 7pm; from £15)

Or get your skates on for Roll Tru’s Brighton Pride street skate – they say everyone’s welcome whatever their skill level, but we reckon turning and stopping ability is going to be pretty key to help you dodge the crowds. (11am; free, but reserve your spot here)

Get the party started – Friday

On Friday afternoon, head to the Circus Street development for a pre-Pride picnic on the green. There’ll be dress-up and a selfie booth, a glitter and face-painting artist, a load of music and entertainment, a Pride marketplace, goodie bags, as well as a load of tasty food and drink deals from the likes of Oui Creperie and more. Several sellers from the Paperdaisy market – including Glitter and Gem with Pride accessories and jewellery – will be there too as heavy rain and wind forecasts meant their Pride market planned for Saturday sadly got cancelled. (3pm – 7pm; free)

Moving on to the Friday night, kick off your celebrations with a free pre-Pride and pre-Polyglamorous party at LGBTQ+ venue Arcobaleno (from 8pm). This BOTI fave hangout is bringing a whole week of Pride partying, including a brunch (from 9am) and a boatload of fun-packed celebrations. Think entertainment from Lydia L’Scabies, Cherry Bomb and Mary O’Kart, as well as tasty bevvies and secret surprises.

Friday 5th also sees Ironworks Studios host a special edition of Party Bag, a queer dance party hosted by Ophelia Payne and Dick Day with performances by Britney Spears tribute act Absolute Britney and Billie Gold, Karma and Aurora Starr. This official pre-Pride warm-up party also promises plenty of silliness, live songs and games. (From 7.30pm; from £8)

Get on the bus! No, literally. This year, the Drag Bus is bringing the pre- and post-Pride party with queens Lovinia Belle and Carmelle Toe as the hostesses with the absolute mostesses on this party sightseeing drag extravaganza. (Friday and Sunday; 7pm; £50.23)

Or head to the fabulously flamboyant Regency Tavern for a night of cabaret with Portia De Fosse (from 9pm) – there’s more cabaret coming at you on the Saturday, too, courtesy of Pooh La May.

The North Laine Brewhouse are also in the mix with some pre-, during and post-Pride debauchery – there’s a queer anthems lip synch battle on the Friday evening, their annual Pride parade party on the Saturday hosted by Alfie Ordinary with a glitter station, food and drink offers and DJs from 6pm, and hangover-busting food and drinks on the Sunday.

SOLD OUT. Alternatively, dance your way over to everyone’s (not-so-) favourite phallus, aka the i360, for an open-air Pride silent disco on the terrace (7.30pm with a kiddies version at 5pm; from £15). VIP flights are also available (from £40), which includes a glass of Nyetimber and a disco pod journey hosted by Gaydio.

And if you’re after Pride paraphernalia – face paints, badges, flags – don’t buy from the street hawkers, head to the Pride Shop at the LGBTQ+ community centre the Ledward Centre, where they’re selling all of these things at reasonable prices. They’re also hosting a family fun day on the Saturday at Jubilee Square (11am – 5pm; from £2.33).

Fuel the party – Saturday

Looking for a Pride brunch that hasn’t sold out? You’re in luck, you can still get stuck into the special Pride boozy brunch (9am-1pm; £40 for two meals and a bottle of Prosecco) with a live DJ set at the Hove branch of T @ Coffee Shops. They’ve also teamed up with the brilliant Mama’s Cocktail Bar (10am – 2pm); you can expect some of the best margs in town, take our word for it. Call 01273 326729 or DM them to book your table.

Fuel up at Med where they’ll be back outside serving up their mighty tasty (meat and vegan) burgers, beers and spritzes or grab a rainbowtastic special Pride bagel from Fika. Available in Hove and Sea Lanes, this toasted beauty is jam-packed with a mushroom burger, avo, halloumi, fried egg and Fika’s chilli jam. Kitgum Kitchen and Haraka on Preston Road will have curry-loaded fries, burgers, watermelon, plus beers and soft drinks. Consider yourself fuelled!

If you’re Lewes Road way, head to one of our favourite little coffee shops No.13 Coffee for an excellent cup of Joe and to get your glitter on – they’ve got glitter and face paint, as well as an excellent selection of Pride baked goods and milkshakes, all to raise money for LGBTQ+ children’s charity All Sorts Youth.

Or join Boogaloo Stu at the Park Crescent for a fun-filled breakfast (meaty or vegan full English, eggs florentine or pancakes) and a glass of fizz from 10am. Call 01273 600499 to book.

SOLD OUT On Saturday, head to the Salt Room Terrace from 10.30am for a brunch Pride party with a prime parade-watching spot, tequila bar and special menu. The canapes and drinks package costs a hefty £110 (with £5 going to the Brighton Rainbow Fund), but you’ll get five drinks for that, plus a load of savoury and sweet bits, including their Pride macarons.

Where to watch the parade

It kicks off at 11am officially, but it’s often closer to midday by the time things get moving – we’d recommend finding a spot early though if you want to be sure of the best view. If you’re not watching it over breakfast or brunch, then The Jokers front terrace on Preston Road is one of the best places to see the Parade on its last run into Preston Park. And now they’ve got that excellent roof terrace, there’s even more parade-viewing space. Come for the parade – and the glitter – and stay for the always-killer party (11am – 3am).

Or, head down to Hove Lawns for a more chilled (and family-friendlier) place to watch the approach into the city. Or park your bum at Selina on Kings Road for a perfect parade-watching spot with a full day of DJs and margaritas from their new Middle Eastern-style restaurant Zarqa – 100 percent of profits from their Pride gin and limoncello cocktail go to MindOut.

Where else to celebrate

It wouldn’t be a tragedy (hehe) to spend this year watching Steps, Black Eyed Peas, Honey Dijon and more perform at Preston Park’s Fabuloso Festival – there are still tickets left for the two-day festival (from £49.50).

If you want a more chilled time, obviously you can just wander around the city and get stuck into some Pride fun, but if you want something organised, read on for some of our top picks.

You can also still get tickets to THE Village Party on St James’ Street and Marine Parade – just don’t forget to pick up your wristbands in good time to make sure you get in (from £20). This fun street party sees all the bars in the zone join in, with DJs, drag artists and more (and yes, it gets more than a little bit messy).

Keep the party going after the parade – Saturday

The Actors (ex The Marlborough) has been linked to the LGBTQ+ community since the 70s and it’s always one of our favourite spots to head for a friendly, fun and inclusive night out. This year they’re bringing all the queer carnival energy with an epic street party featuring live drag and music from the likes of deep funk specialist Afrocat and drag king Prince of Persia (3pm – 11pm). You’ll need Village party wristbands if you head along before 11pm, otherwise it’s free.

Komedia will be housing Gal Pals Presents: Queer Pride on Saturday 5th of August (11pm; from £5). This queer dance party for women, trans and non-binary people will be playing non-stop pop tunes across two rooms – making it an ultimate stop-off after the parade.

Queen of house tunes, Jayda G is coming to The Arch this Pride weekend (10pm; £16.75). Located on the stunning seafront, this club venue will be carrying on the feels with plenty of beats blasting out the speakers.

Located along the Brighton Pride Parade route, Patterns is a great place to head, not least due to the excellent seafront views from the art deco venue. Their free terrace party has sold out, but they’re also throwing the official Pride after-party. Hosted by Bitch, Please!, get ready for a night of disco and techno with Cormac and Prosumer on the decks (11pm; £16.50).

Nathan X, the UK’s first drag drum & bass act, is one of the many acts tearing up the dance floor at Volks nightclub for the Cabarave party takeover on Saturday – you can expect a brilliantly extra night of feel-good debauchery and diversity (11pm; £16.75). 

You couldn’t get closer to the action than hanging out at Iconic Brighton beach club OhSo Social. As part of their weekend-long celebrations, they’re hosting an evening terrace party with DJs, gogo dancers and giant disco balls (8pm; £19)

If cabaret’s more your style, try one of our all-year-round faves, the Bedford Tavern, aka the Beddy, which has cabaret from Ophelia Payne during the day on Saturday (from 3.30pm) with Portia de Fosse bringing more fun in the evening from 9pm. They’re throwing open the doors at 10am, so it’s a great spot to get some pre-parade drinks in.

Concorde 2 are hosting what they say (and who are we to argue?) is Brighton’s biggest Pride after-party for a night of legendary partying. Think immersive visuals and some of Brighton’s best queer DJs, hosts, dancers and queens at this legendary party night (11pm; £15.63).

Or head to The Grosvenor Bar; they’re kicking off Saturday at 10am with bacon rolls and mimosas with a whole lot more extra cabaret on into the evening and on Sunday, too.

Super-central music venue pub Hope and Ruin is hosting a free all-day Pride party with DJs playing pop, indie, disco, trash and more (from midday). We also love that they highlight the fact they’re a safe space for all with approachable staff taking everyone’s safety seriously. We know this should be a given, but sadly, in many places, it’s not (yet).

Over in Kemptown, get your Pride karaoke on at our absolute favourite musical theatre bar, Bar Broadway, all weekend (from 8pm; free).

For alcohol-free party vibes, you’ll want to head to low and no-alcohol hotspot Torstigbar, which is just outside the Village Party perimeter, so means you don’t need a wristband to get in! Register here for your free ticket. (1pm – 11pm)

And if you’re looking for a more chilled celebration, check out the brilliant Queery community space in Kemptown for sober hangs, creative fun and chats (11am – 6pm).

Something different?

The gorgeous Brighton Open Air Theatre have got Drag in the Park, hosted by drag prince Alfie Ordinary and featuring comedy queen Cherry Liquor, actor, activist and drag queen Son-of-a-Tutu, and more (7pm; £15). There’s also a family-friendly version earlier in the day.

Do you like art? How about tacos? Then you’ll almost certainly like Smack Tacos, the pop-up that combines the two. You’ll get to see an exhibition of work by a group of talented local artists, you can buy a print of their work and you’ll then get a free taco to go with it. How’s that for a winning combo? Plus there’s live art painting action from artist Infinity Bunce. (2pm – 6pm; free)

What to do on Sunday

If you’re still going strong after Saturday, first of all, we salute you. And if you’re up for continuing the party, you’ve a stronger constitution than us, and you can still get tickets to the second day of We Are Fabuloso (£49.50), which Steps and Melanie C are headlining. Most of Saturday’s venues keep the party going on Sunday too.

Or head back to the always-brilliant Bedford Tavern for recovery roasts from midday – and then stay on for the Pride edition of musical bingo with Snow White Trash at 6pm.

For more foodie tips, check out some of our reviews of where (we said where!) we’ve been munching recently.


Want to help clear up the inevitable (sadly) mess? Then sign up to the Pride beach clean. There are slots from 7am to 10am, and if you stay for the full three hours, you can get a free ticket to the Sunday session of Fabuloso, so there’s double the incentive to help out! If you can’t handle getting out of bed that early, then Churchill Square Shopping Centre are also hosting a clean-up initiative from 11am – 1pm (your incentive here is to make the beach a better place for everyone and protect the sea).

If you’re having a wander around town, look out for Brighton resident and Turner Prize-winning artist Helen Cammock’s billboard transformations. Turning the city into an outdoor gallery, these bold coloured artworks featuring fragments of poetic text are only on show for Pride weekend – you’ll find them at Lewes Road, Elm Grove, Spring Gardens, Seven Dials, Surrey Street, Portland Road, amongst others.

Alternatively, a beach-side or lido sauna session, a swim at our fabulous new beach pool, or a chilled-out yoga class may be just the ticket to end your weekend in a state of bliss. Phew.

Happy Pride, one and all, with lots of love from Team BOTI

With contributions by Lucy Sambrook