Hundreds of people assembled in Winchester on Saturday 23 February for the fifth annual Hampshire Pride festival. The event takes place every year to celebrate diversity, inclusivity and community across the county and is the first festival in the national Pride calendar.
Festival organisers could not have wished for better weather as the sun beamed down on revellers, many of whom had travelled from across the region to take part. Everyone congregated before the start of the parade at the iconic Great Hall, where the University of Winchester Busker Society and the Solent Gay Men’s Chorus entertained the crowds. Local independent businesses also supported by providing refreshments in the courtyard.
Phil Linssen, from Piecaramba said:
As a Hampshire-based business it is important to us to support the local community. We are very supportive of the LGBT community and are here to give our colours to the festival!
Before setting off on the parade, the crowd was addressed by Deputy Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Eleanor Bell, and Leader of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Roy Perry. The Parade itself travelled through Winchester, to the rhythm of drums and whistles, down Jewry Street, the North Walls, St George’s Street and on to the statue of King Alfred. The procession then returned past the Cathedral and up the High Street to the Elizabeth II Court, where there was an indoor street festival with stalls run by local support and health groups and live entertainment including the Oxford Drag Collective and Henry Newbury.
Many businesses along the route had decorated their windows in a show of support for the Parade. Local business owner, Gary Whiter, who runs Cabinet Rooms cafe-bar on Jewry Street and is also a member of the Pride organising committee, said:
It’s fantastic to see so many hundreds of people getting involved in today’s event as well as local businesses flying their flags to show their support. We’ve been excited to watch the Parade go right past our café today and our customers and staff came out onto the street to cheer on the procession!
Hampshire Pride Chair and Festival Director, Sarah-Louise Collins said:
Today has been a huge day for Hampshire Pride with rolling road closures for the first time and the largest Parade ever in the city. The atmosphere has been amazing and it’s been wonderful to see so many families and groups of friends come along to show their solidarity for the LGBT+ community across Hampshire. We’re already excited about what next year’s event will bring as we’re looking to grow it to include even more people and businesses in 2020.
If you would like to get involved in next year’s event, contact the team via the website at www.hampshirepride.org
Photo: Hampshire Pride 2019 Credit Mike Hall / Amazing Image Co