Pride Brighton 2015: The parade, the festival and the bomb scare

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Dancing through the streets and houses, rainbow flags flying high…

No, it’s not a cult kids TV show gone wrong, it’s Pride. You’ll remember I wrote recently about looking forward to my very first Pride festival. Not just any Pride but arguably the biggest and best Pride in the UK – Brighton and Hove on the south coast of the UK.

Brighton Pride 2015 was on Saturday 1 August.

Our driver drove my partner Sable and I down to the hotel early Thursday evening. Our hotel, The Mercure, is a beautiful Victorian property overlooking the sea. We had an upgraded, seaview room and once we arrived we settled in immediately. It was late after the long drive from Lincolnshire to the south coast so after a much-needed shared bottle of wine from room service we slept soundly. I was excited knowing that the sea was literally across the road; I miss it so much. Growing up in Jersey it’s now rather odd at times to be so land-locked in the middle of Lincolnshire where our little family lives.

We’d intended on a long lie-in the next morning, Friday. At least one of us managed that – not me! I was up from about half six as I couldn’t wait to see the promenade and sea in the morning sun. A lovely cup of coffee from the in-room facilities and I peeked through the heavy drapes. The seafront was spectacular. The famous gazebo was just across the road, while the remains of the old pier were to the left. The Brighton Pier now in use, complete with rides and other arcade attractions, could be seen even further to the left.

The sea was a glorious blue reflecting the clear skies, with the sun beaming down. It was going to be a brilliant day.

Eventually I managed to drag Sable out of bed (sleepy-head!) and we got started. A stroll along the promenade made us feel like proper tourists, then we took our time heading through town for some shopping and snacks. I loved the close, St Helier-esque feel of The Lanes, and it was brilliant to peek into the famous Choccywoccydoodah too. We even picked up the obligatory souvenirs – along with some condoms I couldn’t resist.

It was back to the hotel late afternoon to get ready for Friday night’s fun – we had arranged to meet some friends for a meal at the Giggling Squid. Great name, right? It’s a fantastic Thai restaurant and we all thoroughly enjoyed our tasty meal. We parted ways with friends between 10 and 11pm, then dived into the Fishbowl pub for a livener and to enjoy their DJ (and awesome bathroom graffiti) before heading to bed. We spent a very happy half hour on Brighton beach (as pebbly as it is!) in the moonlight, caught by the hypnotic motion of the waves, before finally retiring to the hotel. It would be another few hours before sleep – but more about that another time…

Note to self: don’t try and take pictures of the moon after a couple of bottles of wine.

A more bleary-eyed start on Saturday – the day of Pride. Thankfully we’d had enough sense to prepare the room with bottled water the day before. A couple of paracetamol and plenty of slugs of water would help shake off the wine head, and I started to get ready for the Pride party. In what was perhaps my most colourful outfit of all time (I am very much a black and/or red girl, you may have noticed) I was ready to get my Pride on.

Our windows opened enough to a small patio area which overlooked the start of the parade route. What we didn’t know, but which slowly became apparent during the couple of hours before the start of the parade, is that the route would be changed. It was meant to be a new route this year, along the seafront, which would take it directly in front of the hotel – but thanks to a discovery of a ‘suspicious package’, the route was changed back to the old one, through the town centre.

A bomb scare wasn’t at all what we were expecting – and it was a scary couple of hours as we were caught right inside the danger zone. This wasn’t the kind of bang I was expecting the start the party with!

Thankfully, after an hour and a half delay to the start of the parade, things were going to kick off. We made our way out of the back of the hotel (no one was allowed in or out of the front entrance) and headed to the party line just over the road.

The parade was awesome. I can’t really describe how magical, happy and awesome it was – you’ll just have to get to a Pride and experience the happiness for yourself. It’s the epitome of acceptance, celebration, freedom and welcoming diversity. Everyone from around Brighton and Hove seemed to be involved, from LGBTQ Christian groups to teachers and even the fire service and the Police (with some fantastic Pride themed cars for the summer!).

The Pride parade made its way along the route to Preston Park, where the main festival was taking place. We’d got tickets to this event beforehand – they’re not too expensive, very good value for what you get – so we found our entrance gate and went on in. The festival was full of spectacular but scary looking rides, dance, music and entertainment tents, bars, food stalls, merch and t-shirt stands and of course, the main stage.

The only thing I wish I’d done differently was to get the VIP tickets, as sitting around on the floor where people were spilling drinks and spitting really isn’t my bag, and the VIPs got a special seated area. I know, I know – I’m high maintenance. They even had their own loos whereas we peasants had to queue for portaloos – yuk! Have I mentioned I’m not really much of a festival-goer?

We stayed as long as we could stand the heat of the beating down sun, and as long as our bladders would hold out after the first couple of rounds of loo queues. Eventually we decided to can it and go back to chill in our lovely hotel. Sorry festival – the music and atmosphere was fantastic but us oldies wanted to just relax after the bomb scare and parade excitement, looking at the sea from our room. Shame we didn’t pack the zimmer frames, eh?!

We both enjoyed a nice lie-in on Sunday morning, after which we travelled home. The long journey back north. I was missing my family, my boys – but I knew I’d also miss the happy, free and welcoming spirit of Brighton. I will definitely be going back again! Loved it.

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Bought one of these great value Pride rainbow facepaint applicators from Nice n Naughty ready for Pride Lincoln next month!

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Back to rural Lincolnshire after the long weekend of fun

 

 

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