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CHICAGO PRIDE MONTH

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

Named the Best Gay Neighborhood in the World by Out Traveler magazine, Boystown is known as one of the most inclusive LGBTQ+ communities in the nation, and as one of the first US gay neighborhoods to be recognized. And it's at the center of the city's Pride celebrations. Check out all the details here, plus hot spots to visit while you’re partying it up.

Crowd watching performance at Chicago's Pride FestPhoto Credit: ©Abel Arciniega

Chicago Pride Fest® 

This two-day celebration from June 16-17 runs along North Halsted Street (Boystown's "Main Street"), and will see the neighborhood bustle with more than 100,000 visitors. The festivities include three music stages (R&B star Mya and The Go-Go’s lead singer Belinda Carlisle are headliners), more than 100 arts and crafts vendors, food from local restaurants, drag shows, DJs, dancing and more. 

Pride Parade

Chicago Pride Parade

The Chicago Pride Parade on June 24 is one of the most popular LGBTQ+ events in the city. The Parade concludes the city's month-long celebrations with a famous 4-mile procession held on the last Sunday of June. It has grown into one of the largest parades in the city.

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. Check out Chicago Transit's Pride Map & Info here.
  • 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 in Chicago

Other signature Pride Month events:

Let’s Make It Perfectly Queer: A Salute to Pride

June 1-24: In celebration of Pride Month, improv star-maker Second City (think Bill Murray, Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert) is putting on a "queer-magedon of comedy." As Second City puts it, "Celebrate all things Pride in this rainbow of classic and original sketches with an inclusive cast that’s ready to question everything…except their comedic orientation." Get your tickets fast! June 1 and 3 shows are already sold out. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students). 

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. 

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. 

Chicago Dyke March

June 23:  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.

Navy Pier Pride Presented by American Airlines

June 18-23: Kicking off Monday, June 18, the third annual free event will consist of a full week of family friendly festivities in honor of the LGBTQ+ community, culminating in a daylong grand celebration on Saturday, June 23 from 11 a.m. to midnight. This event includes Storytime with Drag Queens, live performances, special film presentations, and a new “Queer the Pier” fashion and music show headlined by special guest CeCe Penistone.

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

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

Big Gay Ice Cream Pop-Up @ Nico Osteria

June 23-24: The duo behind New York City's quirky Big Gay Ice Cream, Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff, are bringing their sassy summer treats to Chicago in collaboration with Nico Osteria Pastry Chef Leigh Omilinsky. Try the Dirty Banana soft serve, rainbow macaron ice cream sandwiches, and fruity tequila-dunked freeze pops at Nico for two days only. A portion of the proceeds from sales will benefit Howard Brown Health, a local non-profit dedicated to eliminating the disparities in healthcare experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

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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