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Essex’s biggest Pride event returns to Chelmsford this week

Essex Pride 2022 (Credit: Essex Pride)
Image credit: Essex Pride

Essex’s biggest LGBTQ+ community celebration, Essex Pride, returns to Chelmsford this week. Supported by Chelmsford City Council, the day of festivities will culminate in the second Pride March to take place in the county. Celebrations take place this Saturday 24 June in Central Park and across the city centre. 

Essex Pride March returns after a fantastic debut in 2022 

The Essex Pride March through the city centre returns this year with an extended route. It follows the success of last year’s march – the very first to take place in Essex – which saw more than 1,000 people take part. 

The march sets off from Pop World in Chelmsford High Street on the morning of Saturday 24 June. It progresses through the city centre, past shop windows decorated with Pride-themed murals commissioned by Chelmsford For You. The route also takes in Chelmsford For You’s Hearts For Pride trail which sees 11 inflatable hearts displayed in locations around the city centre, including Chelmsford Museum, each one representing a colour from the Pride Progress Flag. The march takes about 30 minutes to complete and ends at Central Park, where a rainbow flag will be flying in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. 

The march is free to join and has an accessible route. Attendees are asked to register in advance on the Essex Pride website and gather on the day at Pop World from 10am. 

Central Park Pride Festival showcases some of UK’s biggest LGBTQ+ acts 

The march ends at Central Park, where a fabulous festival will take place to celebrate unity, tolerance, and freedom of identity.  

This year’s event sees some of the UK’s biggest LGBTQ+ acts perform live on stage, including The Vivenne and Jaymi Hensley, plus a Steps tribute. There will also be a silent disco dance tent; circus workshop; varied stalls; delicious food and drink; and of course, the famed Essex Pride Dog Show! 

Chelmsford City Council supports Essex Pride 2023 

Chelmsford City Council is proud to be one of the sponsors of Essex Pride. City councillors and council staff will be joining the march as a show of solidarity with the Essex LGBTQ+ community. 

Chelmsford City Council also supports Essex Pride’s Always Proud. The initiative aims to provide events and safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year. The City Council has provided funding for several Always Proud events to take place in Chelmsford in 2023, including LGBTQ+ poetry and photography workshops. 

An exhibition also opens at Chelmsford Museum this weekend in support of Pride. Funded by Chelmsford City Council and co-curated by the museum and Essex Pride, Behind the Rainbow brings together varied artworks from members of the LGBTQ+ community. It explores their experiences, changing attitudes, and the challenges still faced by the community. 

Behind The Rainbow

Councillor Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader of Chelmsford City Council and Cabinet Member for Connected Chelmsford, says the city is proud to host Pride and to support the LGBTQ+ community year round: 

"We’re thrilled to be hosting the county’s Pride festivities in Chelmsford once again in 2023 and this year the celebration is bigger than ever. With the second Essex Pride March, the Central Park Pride Festival, and Chelmsford Museum’s Behind the Rainbow exhibition, we’re taking a clear stance in the campaign for equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Of course, it’s important that we support the LGBTQ+ community year round, not just during Pride Month. That’s why Chelmsford City Council has provided funding for Essex Pride’s Always Proud initiative."

Cllr Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader of Chelmsford City Council and Cabinet Member for Connected Chelmsford

Celebrating LGBTQ+ communities since 2004 

Essex Pride first began in 2004 at Smiths Bar in Chelmsford. Since then, it has grown to become the largest LGBTQ+ community celebration in the county of Essex. 

The volunteer-run registered charity operates year round to deliver a safe and inclusive event which brings people together from across Essex, London and beyond. 

Garry Ormes, Chair of Essex Pride, says the event gives LGBTQ+ individuals and families a safe space to celebrate and be visible: 

"Essex Pride has become an integral part of life in Chelmsford. The Pride Festival gives LGBTQ+ individuals and families the chance to be visible, and for our many allies to come together. There is still work to be done to ensure that the county of Essex is a welcoming, friendly, safe and inclusive place to live, work and visit. Join us on Saturday 24 June, and share in this joyful and important event as one community."

Garry Ormes, Chair, Essex Pride
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Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.