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CHICAGO PRIDE

From Uptown to Boystown, this LGBTQ+ pride celebration travels Chicago’s neighborhoods each June. Use this guide to plan your Pride travel. 

Pride Parade

Chicago Pride Parade

As one of the most popular LGBTQ+ events in the city, most people will travel to experience the 49th annual Chicago Pride Parade on June 24, 2018, at noon.

The Chicago Pride Parade culminates the city's month-long with a famous 4-mile parade held on the last Sunday of June. It has grown into one of the largest parades in the city and a popular LGBTQ+ travel destination.

WHERE:

Boystown & Neighboring Communities

The parade route 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.

WHAT:

Eye-popping costumes. Crowds topping a million people. And a spectacular procession involving over 200 floats, marching bands and community groups. Drawing everyone from drag queens and scantily clad dancers to proud parents and local politicians wearing big smiles, the Chicago Pride Parade brings everyone together in support of the LGBTQ community. Admission to the parade is free, and all ages are welcome.

HOW:

Here are a few tips, from those of us who have been there and done that:

  • The stretch on Halsted Street is prime real estate for parade viewing. For more breathing room, carve out a space at the beginning of the route 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, comfortable clothes, hats and walking shoes.
  • Pets are allowed but be thoughtful of the noise, crowds and heat exhaustion. And yes, the same can be said about bringing children! The parade itself lasts several hours, and with all the festivities, it's easy to tire quickly.
  • Consuming alcohol on public streets and sidewalks is illegal in Chicago, so be warned that parade goers with open containers 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 bring your own. And if you want any freebie handouts (rainbow buttons, colorful condoms, sponsor flyers, etc.) then stand close to the barricade to get them as they're passed out.
  • Lastly, dress up! Body glitter, wedding dresses, tutus, leather — whatever your look, play it up and have fun with it.

Pride Parade

Other signature events not to miss:

Andersonville Midsommar Fest

June 8-10: The Andersonville neighborhood is one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly in Chicago, and Midsommerfest is a street festival for the arts, retail, music and more in the area. 

Chicago Pride Fest® 

June 16-17, 2018: A two-day celebration along North Halsted. Boystown, one of America's first gay neighborhoods to be recognized, with bustle with 100,000 visitors who want to experience three music stage, local arts and crafts and general festival fun at this all-ages event. 

Dyke March

Date TBD.  As a celebration of reclaiming the word "dyke", the Chicago Dyke March is a grassroots mobilization that honors dyke, queer, bisexual and transgender people. In 2017, Lea DeLaria, best known for the portrayal of Carrie "Big Boo" Black on Netflix' Orange is the New Black, acted as the march's Grand Marshal.

Proud to Run 10K Run/5K Run-Walk

June 23, 2018: This event attracted over 2,000 runners and raised a record $65,000 in 2017.

Back Lot Bash

June 22-24: The Back Lot Bash Chicago kicks off with a Pride Family Fest and follows with two days of a signature outdoor music festival. The event is now in its 15th year and is one of the best-attended lesbian Pride events. See the Back Lot Bash website for events leading up to the main June festival. 

Navy Pier Pride

Dates TBD.  Navy Pier started its Pride celebration in 2016, and it has made a commitment to creating a free, family-friendly, LGBTQ+ celebration since then. 

For even more on the biggest Chicago events, check out the 2018 LGBTQ Chicago Pride calendar.


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! 

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