London is a city open to the world. No matter where you are from, how you identify and who you love, London is for everyone. And to be LGBTQ+ in London, is heaven! The community is huge, there’s several gayborhoods all over the city and there’s a bar/club for any niche you can imagine – whether you be a techno loving queer, a pumped up Circuit gym bunny, a Lady Gaga worshiping twink, a BDSM aficionado, a lesbian punk…anything you could possibly imagine. Everyone is different and difference is celebrated; that is the core of what London is. It’s also at the core of what Pride is and you’ll see all these types and more at Pride in London every year.

London Pride, also known as Pride in London, every year embodies the city’s love for self-expression as everyone gathers in central London for a joyous celebration and demonstration of progress and diversity. It’s also beautifully chaotic and a lot of fun. This year promises to be London Pride’s biggest celebration to date and so we present to you a definitive guide on everything Pride in London. 

About London Pride 2024 – A Herstory 

Pride in London 2024 is a two week event, taking place from June 10th through to June 30th. During this period there are parties, art exhibitions, film screenings, and talks on topics relevant to the LGBTQ+ community around the city.

The main event, however, takes place on the last Saturday on the 29th of June. The celebrations kick off at midday with a parade leaving from Park Lane – late enough to allow for any hangovers to abate from any pre-pride celebrations one might have. The parade passes through the city center, including the iconic Oxford Street, with plenty of room on the route for any who aren’t marching to position themselves to enjoy the spectacle. After the parade there’s street parties, events, concerts and clubs galore till the early morning, centered around Trafalgar Square and Soho. London Pride is, unsurprisingly for the capital city, the longest running and largest Pride festival in the UK. An estimated 1.5 million people attend each year being a mix of Londoners and visitors alike. 

Image credit: RubADubDub 3InATub's on Flickr

The first official pride was the UK Gay Pride Rally as far back as 1st July 1972 – just shy of the three year anniversary of Stonewall. But even before then the first public event took place in 1970 with 150 men marching through Highbury Field in North London. Soon after, in 1983, the march’s name was changed to “Lesbian and Gay Pride”.

A key event in Pride’s history happened in 1985 when an unlikely alliance was formed with mining groups. A group of LGBTQ+ people called the Lesbian and Gay Support the Miners Group joined miners in their fight against Thatcher’s anti-protest laws in Britain and in turn the miners marched at Pride – becoming a fundamental movement for the UK LGBTQ+ rights movement which can be seen in the film Pride. Numbers further increased when Thatcher introduced Section 28 in 1988 – a law that prevented the “promotion of homosexuality in schools”.

As progress rolled steadily forward, in 1996 members of Pride Trust voted to change the name once more to the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride”. During the 90s the political side of Pride was tempered somewhat with carnivals, concerts and street parties as it became the largest free music festival in Europe, yet still the march for progress remained uphill – figuratively speaking thankfully – but not without a few bumps in the road.

Many organizations have helmed London Pride over the years with a few controversies resulting in infighting, such as at WorldPride when a major sponsor withdrew support. This led to the charity being unable to raise the funds necessary and the stages being cut, license applications for street parties in Soho withdrawn and leading to a muted parade without floats!

Thankfully since then things have been better handled and currently it’s run by Pride in the City, who run a tight – rainbow flag flying – ship. Dedicated to its three pillars of ‘visibility, unity and equality’, they’re a non-profit organization using their own staff and around 150 volunteers every year to run the world class event. Any surplus profits are reinvested into the LGBTQ+ community and given to a range of LGBTQ+ causes, including HIV/AIDS charities and queer mental health organizations.

Image credit: RubADubDub 3InATub's

Themes and Activities – What to Do!

This year the London Pride’s parade is taking its historical “heritage route”, beginning at Park Lane near Hyde Park Corner, then marching past Green Park up to Piccadilly Circus, down Haymarket and Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square. Officially the parade starts at midday and entrants should get there before eleven – but have you ever known these things to be on time? If you aren’t the type to be rubbing shoulders with the churls, you can also watch the action with an unimpeded view by booking yourself a spot in the Grandstand on Haymarket for around £50.

After the parade Trafalgar Square becomes abuzz with gay activity with drag shows, pop artist concerts, DJ sets and political speeches. The lineup is yet to be announced but check back here for when the information is released. Recent years have included things like the Pride’s Got Talent show (like Britain’s Got talent…only for LGBTQ+ folk) and dance offs.

Up in Soho – the gayborhood just a ten minute walk from Trafalgar Square – will be full of LGBTQ+ folk along Old Compton Street outside the bars and “picnicking” in Soho Square – bring your own Pimms! After this, every queer club worth its weight in glitter will be running the night, such as the legendary Heaven – expect big queues though. 

Every year London Pride has a theme which can be found on their website shortly before the festivities begin. Previous themes included ‘All Our Pride’ (to show solidarity with all members of the LGBTQ+ community in light of the rise in transphobia in the UK), ‘Pride Matters’ (to draw attention to the need for Pride), and ‘Love Happens Here’ (to celebrate positive LGBTQ+ relationships along with the need to fight hate crimes). Themes like this really drive the point home that Pride is a protest as well as a party.

Image credit: Z Hotels

Top 5 Gay Hotels in London – Where to Stay!

Now you’ve decided to head to Pride the question is where to make your base camp. Here are our top five:

The Z Hotel Soho – If you’re looking to be right in the heart of the gay action and don’t intend on doing a lot of sleeping, then this gay-friendly hotel is the perfect choice for a Pride homebase. You’ll be just off Old Compton Street within easy staggering distance of your hotel if your night gets a little wild. The rooms are compact, but luxurious and there’s even a complimentary continental breakfast served in the Z Café below it every morning – to soak up that hangover. 

Park Plaza London Riverbank Conversely, if you want to stay in the center, but want a respite from the chaos, then this hotel on the south side of the River Thames and across from the Tate Britain gallery ticks all the boxes. The hotel features a fitness center, indoor pool, sauna and steam room. Every room has EU/US power sockets, a large work desk, laptop safe, and a minibar. For a bit more you can request a room with a river or skyline view.

The Piccadilly London West End – For an upscale five star option, this hotel is just 1,000 feet from Leicester Square and a 5-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus – putting you firmly in the parade route with some rooms providing a view of the parade from your balcony The property has a fitness center and modern boutique bedrooms with mood lighting, and a luxury bathroom with free toiletries and cute fluffy bathrobes.

The LaLit London – This hotel is another pricey but classy choice, close to the Pride action but far enough to retreat away from the crowds. The LaLit London is just a 5-minute walk from Tower Bridge and has luxurious rooms featuring an – always welcome – complimentary minibar, a flat-screen TV, comfy beds, and a private bathroom complete with its own bathrobes and slippers.

Stylotel – For an affordable option, which is just a 5-minute walk from Hyde Park (near where the parade starts), Stylotel is a state-of-the-art property set between two 19th-century townhouses, with ultra-modern, contemporary rooms. Each room features satellite TV, a work area, and a luxury private bathroom including a walk-in shower.

Image credit: Comptons

Top 5 Gay Bars in London – Where to Drink!

When at London Pride, you’ll want to head to Soho and sample the many gay bars you’ll find humming all day. Here are five of the greats:

Comptons of Soho – The favored watering hole of Soho’s bears is, in fact, welcoming to all and a fabulous place to visit at Pride. It’s an institution of the area, serving London’s gay community for decades. The decor is a traditional-style wood-paneled pub with two floors and lots of mature men frequenting them.

The YardIt’s not milkshake that brings all the boys to The Yard but its huge garden courtyard, sexy topless barman and general good vibes. Inside is pretty spacious too with a loft style upstairs that boasts cool looking exposed brick and wooden beams. Expect a mixed crowd during Pride and a welcoming atmosphere.

G-A-Y Bar They literally spell it out for you, so it should come as no surprise that this is one of the most popular bars on Old Compton Street, especially at Pride. The drinks are cheap…well, cheaper than most of the other bars on the strip and there’s 3 floors of cheesetastic music. The top level even has a small terrace. The crowd tends to be on the younger side.

Ku Bar Soho – On the corner of Lisle Street and Newport Place, this “Award Winning Gay Bar” is one of Soho’s best and consists of three levels including a low-lit gay club downstairs, which will be filled with topless wonders the second it opens. Stop by for the champagne bar, nightly DJs, friendly atmosphere, and the very attractive men behind the bar. 

The Village – You can’t miss this bar as it sits at the far end of Compton’s Street and its inhabitants are sure to spill out on the street for Pride. It’s chandelier-lit and has three floors: the ground and top floor being your more typical English gay pub style, whereas downstairs you’ll find a DJ spinning pop tunes. O and they have go-go boys!

Pride in London is joyous; it's a full-blown, heart-thumping, show-stopping celebration of love and liberty. Whether you're there for the parade, the parties, or to simply soak in the vibrant atmosphere just remember, if you leave Pride without glitter in places you didn't know existed, did you even go?

FAQ

When and where does London Gay Pride typically take place?

June 10th through to June 30th, but the biggest day is Saturday June 29th. Central London is where the parade kicks off at midday from Park Lane, terminating in a huge free street concert at Trafalgar Square and a party in Soho after. Be there!

What events and activities can I expect during London Gay Pride?

A huge parade marching through the center; a stage in Trafalgar Square with drag shows, concerts and speeches; a street party in Soho and lots of clubs running special events. 

Is London Gay Pride open to everyone, including allies?

Yes, London Pride – just like every Pride – is open to all. It’s for all sexualties, gender identities, ages…

How can I get involved with or support London Gay Pride as a volunteer or sponsor?

Visit Pride in London | Pride in London and either complete the volunteer application form or sign up as a sponsor. Applications are also still open to be one of the 600 groups marching in the official parade. If you’re part of a community group, employee network or non-profit wishing to join the parade, you can apply here. The parade also relies on a team of volunteers, who donate their time to help fundraise, steward and generally ensure that the day runs smoothly. Applications to volunteer at this year’s parade are open here.