As Manchester Pride 2013 appears on the horizon, all glitter cannons blazing, LGBT correspondent Andrew Roberts selects his top five highlights of the Pride period. 

1. The Fringe

Various venues, throughout August

Manchester Pride 2013

The Fringe has been part of Manchester Pride for close to 10 years and 2013’s line up seems to cement the fact that it is such an important part of the festival. The array of events is as impressive as ever; from the theatre to photography and art exhibitions via water polo and rugby, through to 9-5 the Musical and Ennio Marchetto and his “living cartoon” stage show. The Fringe features a screening of the independent film 'Dream On' with a Q&A session with the cast and director. There is also an evening with LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, a family fun day and of course the annual dog show. 

2. The Parade

Saturday 24th August, no wristband required

Manchester Pride Parade

For some this is the highlight of “The Big Weekend” as hundreds of floats and people snake through the city centre. This year’s theme is “Acceptable in The 80s?”  and should be great inspiration for the costumes and floats. It brings the city to a standstill and attracts thousands from all walks of life with its party atmosphere. The parade starts at 1pm from Liverpool Road (Hilton) and ends at The Village.

3. The Main Stage

Friday 23rd – Monday 26th August

Manchester Pride Main Stage

Of course Manchester Pride wouldn’t be the same without its Main Stage and the live acts that perform on it. This year – as with every year – there is a great variety of performers, and 2013’s roster won’t disappoint. Acts include big names such as Patrick Wolf, Sam Sparro, Kate Nash, Mish B, Ren Harvieu, Lucy Spraggan, Rylan and headliners; The Feeling, Moto Blanco and MKS. The Main Stage also gives up and coming bands and singers the opportunity to perform for the large crowd. This year features (to name a few); Velvet Stream, Scarlett’s Roses, Swiss Lips, Go Native and Matthew Wilson.

4. The Dance Arena

Friday 23rd – Sunday 26th August, times vary

This is a new (and welcome) addition to The Big Weekend. Mentioned by DesignMyNight Manchester Hero, Michael Lever; the dance arena is a covered outdoor space. In fact it’s an old car park which should bring a fantastic warehouse feel. The DJ line-up so far is looking fantastic and features: Horsemeat Disco, Graeme Park, Phoebe D’Abo (Hed Kandi), Frances Woof (That Amazing Thing!), Tacet (Karnival), Fuckdust (Veba & The Whip’s Fiona Daniel), Stuart Robinson (Paradise Factory) and many more yet to be revealed. I think this is going to be a big hit.

5. The George House Trust Candlelit Vigil

Monday 27th August, no wristband required

Manchester Pride Vigil

The Candlelit Vigil is undoubtedly the most sobering and poignant event of Pride. Sackville Gardens is transformed into a sea of flickering light as friends, relatives and loved ones gather to remember those who have been lost to HIV and join together to continue to fight the global epidemic. This really is the most fitting finale to Manchester Pride.