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'Pride' to net a £20m windfall

OUT AND PROUD: A reveller at last year's event
OUT AND PROUD: A reveller at last year's event

EUROPE'S biggest gay and lesbian festival arrives in Manchester today.

Some 300,000 party people from around the world are expected to celebrate EuroPride over the next week and a half, netting the city a £20m "pink pound" windfall.

But the opening weekend features "family-friendly" fun and games aimed firmly at the people of Manchester.

Highlights include a mass picnic, dozens of street acts and outrageous pink-clad air stewards roaming the city centre.

Tonight the Lord Mayor will hold a civic reception before the grand switch-on of lights thronging dozens of trees in the gay village.

Clubs and pubs in the area are cashing in on the fun with a range of EuroPride-inspired entertainment, including launch parties at Cruz 101 in Princess St and Essential in Minshull Street.

For the more reflective revellers, there will be a gay film festival at UCI Filmworks and a "queer art" exhibition at Manchester Gallery.

Fruity

As the weekend continues 300 people are already expected for a family picnic in Sackville Park at 1pm on Saturday.

On Sunday the city centre will be awash with stilt walkers, magicians and EuroPride balloons.

Artists will be painting six gay-themed murals in St Ann's Square, while street entertainers will roam Exchange Square and Cathedral Gardens.

An artificial tree - following the festival's fruity theme - will be put up near the Urbis museum.

The celebrations will build throughout the week with dozens of sporting, cultural and night-time events throughout the city.

The "Big Weekend" on August 22-25 includes the annual Mardi Gras parade and a £10-a-head, ticket-only programme of events in the village.

Christopher Hodgson, joint festival co-ordinator, said: "The first weekend is very much about being part of Manchester.

"We hope to promote respect and diversity and it will be a very different weekend to the second."

15/08/2003


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