The Chicago LGBTQ community goes all out and celebrates its two marquee events on two consecutive weekends in the summer: Chicago Pride Festival (June 18-19, 2016) and Chicago Pride Parade (June 26, 2016).
The 2016 Chicago Pride Parade — a summertime staple celebrating a monumental 46th annual event this year — caps a very busy Pride Month in the city.
Starting the party is the epic two-day event Chicago Pride Fest® along North Halsted Street on Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19, 2016.
And a day prior to the Pride Parade, more LGBTQ celebrations include Chicago's Dyke March and the Proud to Run 10K Run/5K Run-Walk on Saturday, June 25, 2016. For even more on the biggest Chicago events, check out the 2016 LGBTQ Chicago Pride calendar.
Here's your guide on what to plan on seeing at the Chicago Pride Parade, and how to plan your trip... though we guarantee the day is always filled with surprises!
Pride Month in Chicago culminates with the famous 4-mile long spectacle through Boystown and its neighboring communities, held annually the last Sunday of June: Chicago Pride Parade, 12:00 noon, June 26, 2016.
The parade route (click here for last year's map) kicks off at noon from Montrose Avenue and Broadway Street in the Uptown neighborhood; continues south on Halsted Street through Boystown; turns east on Belmont Avenue before turning south again on Broadway Street; and ends near the intersection of Diversey Parkway and Sheridan Road in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Eye-popping costumes. Crowds topping a million people. And a colorful procession of over 200 floats, marching bands and community groups in the parade line-up. Drawing everyone from drag queens in elaborate outfits and scantily clad dancers to proud parents wearing big smiles and local politicians clad in khakis, the Chicago Pride Parade brings everyone together in support and celebration of the LGBTQ community.
The annual parade is a free admission, all-ages event open to the public. Held the last Sunday in June, it has since grown into one of the largest parades in Chicago. Stay tuned for more details, including the announcement of the Grand Marshal for 2016.
Looking for some tips on how to join in on the fun? Here's just a few:
- The stretch on Halsted Street is prime real estate for parade viewing. For more breathing room, carve out a space at the beginning along Broadway Avenue or near the end at Diversey Parkway. Also the east sides of the streets on the parade route — if you can get there early enough to cross at designated intersections — are generally less crowded.
- Public transportation is highly recommended. Take the CTA ‘L' train, as traffic and parking are a challenge with all the street closures and bus reroutes. Red Line stops at Wilson and Sheridan, as well as the Brown Line at Diversey, are not as congested. Also it's not a bad idea to load funds onto your transit pass on your way in to avoid the longer lines midday when leaving.
- As with all outdoor Chicago events, be prepared with summer essentials such as water, sunblock and comfortable clothes, hats and walking shoes.
- Pets are allowed but be thoughtful of the noise, crowds and heat exhaustion. Yes the same can be said about bringing children! With the added caution that not all outfits you see would be considered family-friendly. Also keep in mind the parade itself lasts several hours and with all the festivities, it's easy to tire quickly.
- Drinking on the public streets and sidewalks is NOT legal in Chicago so be warned that parade goers with open containers of alcoholic beverages can be ticketed.
- City ordinance also prevents items from being tossed between parade participants and spectators. This means two things: If you want beads, better to bring your own! And if you want any freebie handouts (rainbow buttons, colorful condoms, sponsor flyers, etc.) then be sure to line the sidelines close to the barricade to get them as they are passed out.
- Lastly, feel free to dress up! Body glitter, wedding dresses, tutus, leather — whatever your look, play it up and have fun with it.
Get the latest Chicago Pride Parade updates at chicagopridecalendar.org.
Visit choosechicago.com/things-to-do/lgbtq-chicago for a full Chicago LGBTQ guide: Explore the Boystown and Andersonville neighborhoods, browse Chicago itineraries, find TAG® approved hotels, wedding venues and more!