Blackpool LGBT community can look forward to 'Winter Pride' this year as summer festival goes virtual once more
Blackpool Pride festival, which last year was forced to cancel its annual celebration on the Blackpool Tower headland due to Covid-19, will go virtual this summer with a full line-up of online entertainment - and there's more to come.
Pride Blackpool will take place on June 5 on Facebook and Youtube, with local artists to be announced in the upcoming months.
In a statement, the Pride Blackpool committee said: "As we now know, social restrictions will remain in place until at least the end of June, therefore we have come to the decision that, with still so much uncertainty going forward and measures beyond our control, it would not be possible for us to put together the Pride festival event that we had originally planned.
"However, as last years’ Pride Blackpool virtual event was such an incredible success, we didn’t want you to lose out.
"Viewed by over 100,000 people over the various channels, we had an absolutely phenomenal response, and we cannot thank those who joined us enough. It really was a magical day and we’re going to make this one even better."
The virtual event will be free to watch - but it is hoped a ticketed 'Winter Pride' event at the Winter Gardens will be arranged later in the year when Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be lifted.
Money gathered through ticket sales will go towards paying off Pride Blackpool's outstanding debt with Blackpool Council, which was acquired in 2019 after the authority spent £68,0000 to ensure the event would go ahead as usual.
Pride Blackpool committee chairman Paul Dewick Day said: "The problem is the uncertainty. We have hung on for as long as we could, but there's simply no guarantee that there won't be restrictions in place on June 5, which is why we have decided to go virtual.
"We are now concentrating on later in the year, and we are hoping in November to bring Winter Pride to Blackpool.
"By November, we hope, the majority of people will be vaccinated ad we will be able to meet up, go indoors and have a proper Pride festival on the stage.
"I'm feeling very optimistic. I think we have done the right thing going virtual this summer, and Winter Pride is something different since Pride normally happens in the summer.
"Everybody wants to get together but it's just not feasible at this time, so let's go full steam ahead and make a proper Pride later in the year."
Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council cabinet member for tourism and culture, said: “The route map announced by the Government has meant that the Pride event for 2021 cannot go ahead in anything other than a virtual way. We fully support this virtual approach to give some continuity to the event but we are not directly involved. It is not anticipated that a virtual event would be revenue generating and the arrangement we have with Pride for future ticketed events remains in place. We all look forward to being able to hold events that people can attend and enjoy but we must of course wait until it is safe to do so.”