As the glitter settles and the bunting comes down, the city of Manchester has sadly bid farewell to Manchester Pride 2011.

The festival, which this year celebrated its 21st birthday, was attended by thousands and put on an outstanding show boasting some of the biggest, freshest and most talented acts in its 21 year history.

Manchester Pride’s seven day Pride Fringe (August 19 – 25) featured arts, sport, theatre, music, family orientated and musical events. From the wonderful Pink Dog Show to It’s A Gay Knockout – premieres teams from the LGBT community competing in the likes of ‘stiletto races’ and ‘handbag tossing’ – there was a wealth of activity on for all.

The Big Weekend took place between Friday 26 and Monday 29 August, with a ‘Best of British’ themed parade on the Saturday. Featuring almost one hundred floats and led by Aussie ‘trolley dolly’ Pam Ann, this set the city centre alight with support, love and excitement as all those taking part marched triumphantly as the clouds parted and the rain came to a halt.

Manchester Pride featured a range of musical talents over its Big Weekend across three stages. Headlining acts included Alexandra Burke, the Sugababes (both on Sunday), Pixie Lott (Saturday), Blue (Monday) and Pam Ann (Friday). Other notable names include Heather Peace, Patrick Wolf, Toyah Willcox, Angie Brown and Manchester based talent Rubika, Santiago Street Machine and The Mend. On Sunday Sackville Gardens became the Women’s Stage (from 4pm), where a great range of new female talent was showcased.

On the Monday night Manchester closed with its Candlelit Vigil, presented by the George House Trust, to remember and support those lost to HIV and those living with it. Sackville Gardens was transformed into a sea of candles, as thousands held their candle to the air, after a range of readings, speeches and song, from the likes of patron Antony Cotton, the wonderful Angie Brown and West End star Philippa Healey.

Also new to this year’s festival was its big screens, in Sackville Gardens and the Gaydar Main Arena. For the latter, this meant those at the back of the crowds still had a fantastic view, whilst in Sackville there was be live broadcasting straight from the main arena to the park. This meant that when the main arena hit full capacity – as it did three of four nights – visitors could still catch all of the big acts.

Manchester Pride has won the Pink Paper Award for Best Pride Event five years running, and it is clear why. No other UK Pride festival raises the figures for their community as Manchester’s does. Since 2003 the festival has made £895, 000 for charity – a figure which will shoot up from this year’s event as soon as the final totals have been counted. Manchester Pride is lucky to be supported by fantastic organisations, media partners, volunteers, trustees, patrons and friends. Putting on a world-class, huge-scale event would not be possible without these people.

What was perhaps most poignant this year was that despite the UK’s current economic climate such a superb festival could be put on and orchestrated without a hitch, with thousands of people coming to celebrate and enjoy it for a four-day long weekend. Specifically to Manchester, and in conjunction with its ‘I Love MCR’ campaign, the Big Weekend and ‘Best of British’ parade theme celebrated all things good in defiance against the negative riots the city had been a victim of only weeks previously.

Jackie Crozier, festival director of Manchester Pride, said: “Manchester Pride has outdone itself this year, as have all those involved. The festival – for those who attended – speaks for itself; there is no doubt we all came together to celebrate 21 in style and, without hesitation, Manchester Pride now looks ahead to 2012 during which it will be putting together the wonderful event it has done so for years.”

Manchester Pride 2012 is scheduled to take place from the 17 – 27 August of next year. For up to date information on this, and for upcoming images and video from this year’s event, please visit: http://www.manchesterpride.com/

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