Gareth Gates – a man who endured the ups and downs of celebrity (ups: runner-up on Pop Idol; downs: immediately being pounced on by Jordan) – is the star turn at this year’s Blackpool Pride Festival.
It takes place this weekend, with two days of fun and frolics that will bring together the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans gender) community and is guaranteed to bring the resort alive.
The fun starts with a colourful parade through the streets on Saturday morning, before two days of inside the Winter Gardens.
Gates, 28, who has sold more than 3.5 million records since being beaten to the title of Pop Idol by Will Young in 2002, headlines on Saturday. He will take to the stage in the Pavilion Theatre and belt out a few tunes.
Black Lace – who, as if you needed telling, were responsible for the mega-selling 80s hit Agadoo – are the headliners on Sunday.
There will also be a variety of other performers at the Winter Gardens (in both the Pavilion Theatre and the Theatre Bar), including Tameka, Kitty Litter, Tom McLeod and Jason Oliver, as well as many other local and national artists. The entertainment lasts from noon till 5pm both days.
There will be a separate family area, a young person’s area and an area for the trans gender community where there will be a changing room, professional advice and refreshments. In addition there will be information services, an LGBT market place and a restaurant and cafe for the duration of the Festival.
The walking parade will start at the Cenotaph at 10am, meander through town for the next two hours, ending at the Winter Gardens. The Mayor of Blackpool, Coun Eddie Collett, will start the parade and also open the Festival in the Winter Gardens.
Blackpool Pride Festival CEO Timothy Allan, a schoolteacher who since retirement has turned his hand to organising this annual extravaganza, is expecting the best festival yet.
“It has been a long time in the planning, and it hasn’t always been easy, but I think this festival will be a really good one,” he said.
“It is great to have artists of the calibre of Gareth Gates appearing, along with Black Lace, who are a great party band, and there are so many other top quality entertainers taking part.
“In the evenings we hope everyone will visit the North Shore area of the Blackpool and enjoy all our wonderful partner bars and venues (including Ma Kelly’s, Flying Handbag, Galleon and Nellie Deans to name just a few).
“Many of these will be putting on their own cabaret making the entire weekend a vibrant and exciting celebration of our LGBT community.”
So get your dancing shoes on and get yourself out and about in Blackpool this weekend - it sounds like it will be a cracking do.