With Pride Month officially here, the LGBTQ+ community has a number of options to celebrate across the US as events return. But not all major festivities are making a comeback. Although over 750,000 attended Boston Pride Parade in 2019, they indefinitely canceled the event due to the dissolution of the organization last summer. While this is a major blow to the city, these revelers and other LGBTQ+ travelers can look to several New England Pride festivals happening in the region this summer.
Cities such as Providence, Middletown, Burlington, and the queer beach town of Provincetown, will host their popular Pride gatherings, which bring in thousands to each. And as Pride is very important for community visibility, smaller, but growing celebrations are also happening throughout New England.
“It’s nice to think we’re ‘out of the woods’ with societal acceptance of LGBTQ+ folks, but there is still so much more work to do,” says Sean O’Connor, co-owner of Newport Out and board member of Newport Pride. “Transgender and gender non-conforming people still face so much discrimination and prejudice, and unfortunately violence against them. LGTBQ+ youth face higher rates of homelessness, many having been kicked out of their homes due to lack of acceptance,” he adds.
Hailing from Newport County, O’Connor happily lives in the harbor city with his husband. “We definitely infuse Pride month with the spirit of celebration and love, but we need to remember there is real work to do, and we aim to be doing that work in our city.”
Stephan Hengst, executive director of the Provincetown Business Guild, shares O’Connor’s sentiments. Hengst says to Matador, “Pride has been celebrated across the world for more than 50 years, and it’s more important today than ever before. In today’s political climate, the LGBTQ+ community is experiencing a record number of hate-fueled pieces of legislation being introduced in the United States, and this is an indicator that for as far as we’ve come as a queer community — there is still so much we need to overcome before we experience full equality.”
Hengst began his position at the Guild this year but has been coming to Provincetown to visit for the past 20 or so years. Guild continues, “Pride is something that helps individuals to realize that they are not alone — and that they are part of a much larger community that supports them.”
Whether you’re a New England native or exploring this northeastern corner of the US this month, you’ll be able to find a local Pride event along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, in the countryside and mountain ranges, or in one of the region’s diverse cities.
Provincetown Pride, Provincetown
Well known as a queer and creative escape for over a century, and now home to hundreds of LGBTQ+ owned and operated businesses, Provincetown’s Pride celebration kicks off the summer travel season. “Late spring and early summer in New England are truly unique. With bright sunshine and cool breezes, a place like Provincetown offers an incredible backdrop for a Pride celebration,” Hengst says. “Being the premier LGBTQ+ vacation destination in the US, Provincetown is a great place to showcase the talents of our community not just in June — but every day of the year.”
Along with annual favorites returning such as the rally at Town Hall, queer drag bingo, the Pride tea dance at Boat Slip, and parties at Red Room and A-House, there are new events to look forward to this year that focus on Ptown’s queer history. The Provincetown Business Guild and Bay State Cruise Company will host a special Pride cruise on June 3 from Boston’s World Trade Center to Ptown. There will also be LGBTQ+ history trolley tours led by local 17th-century drag queen, Anne Hutchinson, a queer comedy showcase, sunrise yoga, and the Feet Over Front Street Pride 5K.
When: June 3-5
Berkshire Pride Festival and Parade, Pittsfield
Home to picturesque rolling hills, the largest contemporary art museum in the country (the MASS MoCA), and sites once belonging to famous literary figures, the Berkshires is an accepting and peaceful retreat for LGBTQ+ travelers. Pittsfield is one of the two major cities in the county and is home to a locally-driven Pride event that’s been hosted since 2017. Speaking with Cass Santos-China of Berkshires Pride, she shares what to expect this year after attracting roughly 1,000 attendees in 2019.
“We are adding our first parade with a short route down Eagle Street from Percip Park on North Street. [The parade] kicks off at 11:30 AM and leads directly into The Common Park on First Street.” The Common Park is where the festival portion will take place, with entertainment beginning at noon with local musicians and drag performers. “Our host this year is local legend Boxxa Vine who will be on the mic all day as well as perform a number or two,” she says, adding that they will have local LGBTQ+ makers, local small businesses vendors, and numerous resources on-site — including Berkshire Comfort Dogs and sheep from Prado da Lana for the sensory/quiet area. Also expect a virtual treasure hunt, a youth activity area, and a mobile library.
When: June 4
Middletown PrideFEST, Middletown
Located right in the middle of the state along the Connecticut River, Middletown’s historic Main Street was founded 360 years ago. Featuring seven walkable blocks with nearly 200 independent businesses, this charming New England main drag is also home to Connecticut’s largest Pride event. In its first year in 2019, Middletown PrideFEST attracted over 15,000 people from all over New England.
Taking place on June 4, with a rain date of June 5, the festival on the South Green on Main Street will be filled with over 65 vendors and activities for all ages; including a 21+ area. Visiting guests will be welcomed by the Pride flags and Middletown Pride banners flown all up and down Main Street; and a Pride Crosswalk located in the heart of downtown. Events on the day include the Pride march with over 50 groups, Middletown’s first Pride Rally (which will feature the Pride grand marshals, city mayor, and state governor), and the festivities end with the Pride Showcase Concert, which will be hosted by Middletown’s own Mia and Hella Swagg and feature over 25 performers.
Haley Stafford, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce event coordinator, shares what else visitors can explore in the surrounding area before leaving the state: “Travelers can stop at the LGBTQIA+ friendly Priam Vineyards in Colchester. From there, visitors can go to Tisane’s Euro-Asian Café, and experience nightlife at The Chez in Hartford. In New Haven, a city that is rich in LGBTQIA+ history and home to the New Haven Pride Center, patrons can also experience LGBTQIA+ friendly nightlife at Partners and 168 York Street Café, and go to a drag show at Te Amo Tequila Bar & Tacos.”
When: June 4
Fairfield Country Pride — Pride in the Park, Norwalk
Just north of New York City is Fairfield County, the southwest corner of the state that features charming country escapes, beachside towns, and growing cities with bustling downtowns. The Triangle Community Center in the city of Norwalk is one of Connecticut’s two pride centers. It offers over twenty-five regular programs for the LGBTQ+ community and hosts its annual Fairfield County Pride, which comprises three different Pride events in June.
The largest event is Pride in the Park, which takes place in Mathews Park in Norwalk on the grand lawn in front of the Lockwood–Mathews Mansion, a beautiful Second Empire style country house from the 19th-century that is now a museum. Over 7,000 attendees are expected for a day of more than 50 vendors, activities, a VIP bar, a beer garden, and over seven hours of entertainment and music. This year’s headlines include Drag Race royalty Raja, Pangina Heals, and Adore Delano.
If you’re sticking around for the weekend, visit the town of Darien next door for its inaugural Darien Pride on June 12 at the serene, eight-acre Tilley Pond. And if you’re close to Norwalk, come back on June 18 for the second annual Pride Parade of Sail, where community members will sail along the Norwalk Harbor in their Pride-themed boats for onlookers on land to celebrate from Calf Pasture Beach and Veteran’s Park. Anyone with a boat can join and just needs to register online.
When: June 11
Mohegan Sun Pride Weekend, Uncasville
With more than 255,000 square feet of gaming space, the Mohegan Sun is one of CT’s premier gaming destinations and among the largest in the US. Having held a few Pride events in the past, the casino venue will host its first Pride weekend event at the end of June.
The two-day event is a celebration of love and inclusion jam-packed with activities for guests. On Saturday, Pride on the Patio! takes over the Summer Entrance of the property, with live music, local businesses and support organizations, YouTube’s Kalen Allen, and a variety of food trucks and bar drink specials. A portion of tickets will be donated to the local partner organization OutCT. There will also be a Cocktails & Queens event at the Cabaret Theatre, which will be hosted by Allen and include guest drag queen divas Lolita Colby, Miami Knight, and Kyra Jete. An after-party at the Avalon Nightclub follows. And Sunday wraps up the celebration with a drag brunch.
When: June 25-26
New London Pride Festival, New London
Taking place in New London’s Ocean Beach Park, the 9th edition of the New London Pride Festival will feature a range of activities and events. While a few months away, visitors can expect LGBTQ+ artists, musical entertainment, vendors, resource booths, a dance party for LGBTQ+ youth, a “diva” center, and more. While chatting with Alycia Ziegler, OutCT Pride co-chair, she shares what to do while visiting New London: “Drag Brunch at The Social on Bank Street is always a good time. The gardens at Harkness Park in the spring and summer are incredible. The food in New London is always great, [especially the salads at Muddy Waters Cafe]” She also adds that the nearby Olde Mystick Village in Mystic, CT is always a great place to visit for shopping and walking around.
When: August 27
PRIDE New Haven, New Haven
Dates are still being finalized for New Haven’s annual PRIDEfest event, but Patrick Dunn, New Haven Pride Center executive director shares what to look forward to: “This year’s program, as it has in years past, includes a variety of events throughout the week leading up to the big event — PRIDEfest. This year’s PRIDEfest will be structured a little differently than it has in the past – we are focusing on family-friendly entertainment for the first few hours and then transitioning to a broader audience in the afternoon, leading up to the After Party which is always a lot of fun.”
Dunn also says that throughout the week, they will have visual arts programming, performances (including the return of Drag on the Edge), an alternative drag show, and other fun social and foodie events. They are also looking at how to create sober events as well this year. “New Haven is one of the best queer cities in New England (in my humble opinion),” Dunn adds. “We have lots of arts and culture attractions, tons of local drag shows, fabulous restaurants — many [of which] are LGBTQ+ owned, and a whole bunch of other fun and social opportunities. I always tell folks that they HAVE to check out the food scene and the local drag scene when they visit New Haven.”
Rhode Island PrideFest and Illuminated Night Parade, Providence
“New England is one of the most beautiful places in the world to have pride. With its breathtaking coastline, cities, and towns that have been host to community events and activities, and a culturally diverse population that serves not only the best food but also the arts,” says Rodney Davis, president of Rhode Island Pride, the local non-profit that produces the annual PrideFest Celebration and Illuminated Night Parade.
“New England and the state of Rhode Island have been one of the leaders in progressive LGBTQIA+ public policy in the nation. Cities like Providence come alive with rainbow flags and banners welcoming visitors in celebrating the diversity of our community and the programming of events, the RI PrideFest and our unique illuminated parade bring it all together,” he adds.
Rhode Island’s 46th Annual PrideFest Celebration and Illuminated Night Parade will be held in downtown Providence on June 18. Expected to attract over 100,000 celebrators from across the region and country, the Pride events have been recognized as one of the best Pride celebrations in the US. PrideFest will be moving across to the Innovation District Park, which is adjacent to a beautiful Pedestrian Bridge that crosses the Providence River. This event team says this new seven-acre waterfront green space sits in the middle of Providence’s growing innovation and design district and will expand the amount of space for PrideFest and its attendees. Doors open at noon and all traditional programming will be returning, such as the vendor exhibition area (with over 200 nonprofit organizations, businesses, and food vendors), community resource hub, and main stage entertainment.
The unique illuminated nighttime parade route also changes this year. Kicking off at 8:00 PM, the parade will start at the intersection of Washington and Empire Streets and then make its way down Washington Street and turn right onto Dorrance Street (in front of the City Hall). It then turns right onto Weybosset Street as it approaches the finale at the reviewing stand at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Steps away from the parade route, massive block parties and events are produced by all the LGBTQ+ bars and clubs — which will celebrate Pride the whole weekend with this year’s Pride theme of “Together Again!”
When: June 18
Newport Pride, Newport
At the southern end of Rhode Island, known for its New England fare, Gilded Age-era mansions, and scenic Cliff Walk, Newport is now home to an annual Pride celebration. Hosting its fifth Pride event this summer, the festival on June 25 will take place at a larger location this year, the Great Friends Meeting House lawn, which was donated through the Newport Historical Society. “We expect around 1,200 people to join for various events happening throughout the Pride weekend,” shares the Newport Pride team, which has prepared a lineup of events and experiences to celebrate the community and “promote love, acceptance, inclusivity, and diversity of LGBTQ+ identities.”
It all starts with a kick-off social event on June 24 at The Newport Harbor Hotel, next to Bowen’s Wharf. The event will feature DJs from NPT Haus, a local collective, and Provincetown Brewery sponsoring. On June 25, the day kicks off with a four-mile loop around town in partnership with local non-profit Bike Newport starting from the Great Friends Meeting House to end up at the same spot to then enjoy a Pride Market & Festival with local vendors, performers, and music. Anyone can join the Pride on Bikes event, but Newport Pride encourages people to pre-register so they do not have to worry about signing a waiver on the day of the event. “We also try and make the ride as accessible as possible, by recruiting Newport pedicab tricycles to be there, as well as adaptive bikes for people to ride assisted by others,” the team adds. A family-friendly closing event takes place on the 26th at Newport Craft Brewery & Distillery with live music, games, and more.
Through Newport Out’s efforts, the city will also be Rhode Island’s first community to be installing a permanent rainbow crosswalk later this June.
When: June 24-26
Queen City Pride, Manchester
Dubbed one of America’s queerest cities by The Advocate, Manchester is finally getting its very own Pride parade this year. With a week of LGBTQ+ events between June 11-18 to attract local New England Pride celebrators, the last day will feature the new parade. It starts at 10:00 AM at The Foundry Restaurant on Commercial Street and then marches for about a mile until reaching Fratello’s on Canal Street. Revelers can then head back to Arms Park for the Pride festival to continue celebrating along the Merrimack River. Last year saw a 3,000-person festival with over 60 vendors, food trucks, youth activities, and over 50 local sponsors.
When: June 18
Nashua Pride, Nashua
The second-largest city in New Hampshire shows off its Pride flair with an annual celebration of diversity, acceptance, love, and fun. The third edition of the Nashua Pride parade will leave from Elm Street Middle School at 2:00 AM, with a festival to follow at Nashua Public Library Courtyard.
When: June 25
White Mountains Pride, North Conway
Formed in 2018 to bring an LGBTQ+ Pride celebration to the area, White Mountains Pride has become an annual tradition that has grown in size, spirit, and success of mission each year — according to the team. With a month of queer events, the White Mountains Pride Festival will be in North Conway Community Center Park on June 25 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 AM. A full day of activities, food trucks, music, and other celebrations await attendees.
When: June 25
Ogunquit Pride, Ogunquit
Meaning “beautiful place by the sea,” Ogunquit lives up to its name as it has grown into a charming coastal village town with a thriving and welcoming LGBTQ+ community (think a more laid-back Ptown). Many of its restaurants, galleries, hotels, and nightclubs, are queer-owned and operated, and this summer is the town’s second Ogunquit Pride.
“[Before 2020] a group of volunteers organized a simple flag-raising ceremony to mark Pride’s importance to the community,” shares Alice Pearce, Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce executive director. “The Ogunquit Chamber got involved last year to work with the previous group, added a few more volunteers, and involved the entire business and residential community.”
With the theme of “Be Yourself & Be Proud”, OGT Pride will feature a series of special events that will include a Pride flag raising and crosswalk commemoration, a Pride Night at The Cher Show at Ogunquit Playhouse, an LBGTQ+ film festival at the Leavitt Theatre and a drag brunch at Nikanos, and parties each night at MaineStreet (along with a few tea dances). An LGBTQ+ history trail will also take place from June 1-11, beginning at Admiral’s Inn.
Pearce adds what LGBTQ+ travelers should visit while in Ogunquit: “A trip to Ogunquit should always include a walk on the Marginal Way, our paved cliff walk along the ocean that runs from downtown to our fishing/shopping/dining village, Perkins Cove. Main Beach is also a major draw. We also have more than 50 restaurants, and plenty of evening entertainment, from The Cher Show at Ogunquit Playhouse to live music at several downtown restaurants, to dancing at MaineStreet.”
When: June 1-5
Bar Harbor Pride Festival, Bar Harbor
Serving as the gateway town for Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mt. Desert Island, Bar Harbor has a long history as a vacation destination for all outdoor and nature lovers. Now in its eighth year, Bar Harbor Pride’s Jace Viner shares what to expect this year: “This year there’s [events cater] to the desires of many different community members. There will be both a queer birding walk and a dog-friendly hike. A couple of drag shows geared toward a more mature audience. An outdoor festival full of fun for all ages — drag from the Curbside Queens, a variety of acts during our open stage performances, information alley, ice cream, and the band, Little Hag.” He adds that there’s also a youth dance party after the festival, and how celebrators end the weekend with a swim and hang out on Hadley Point.
When: June 9-11
Pride Portland!, Portland
As Maine’s largest Pride celebration, the parade will step off from Monument Square at 1:00 PM, and then proceed along Congress Street to Congress Square Park, down High Street to Park Avenue, where it enters Deering Oaks Park by Mellen Street. The festival will take place in Deering from 1:00 PM — 5:00 PM. and feature vendors, local organizations, a beer garden, and performances on the main stage for New England Pride celebrators to enjoy.
When: June 18
Vermont has been celebrating same-sex love since before it became the first state in the US to introduce civil unions in 2000. Its main Pride event takes place late in the summer (below), but June will welcome a new event for a different way to celebrate with the community; RainbowFest. Chatting with organizer Stefan Piscitelli, he shares how the event came to be: “I saw the need for an alternative to conventional Pride celebrations for folk who don’t find joy or belonging in parties and parades, and who might have a more self-care oriented mindset. I partnered with our venue for another festival, Bhaktistock Sacred Music Festival, and work with them on their Vermont Be True Yoga Festival; both in August. I also wished to bring some level of diversity to the area near the venue, considering we are several hours from Burlington.”
With a projected attendance of 100-200 people, the RainbowFest will take place at the Milldale Farm Center for Wellness, a summer retreat in Fairlee with 300 acres of Vermont farmland and forest. An unplugged and dry experience, the weekend will comprise of yoga classes, hiking on local trails, paddle boarding on the nearby lake, horseback riding through forests, glow stick dancing, dips in the cool brook, bonfires, and more. Attendees can camp on-site for the weekend ($150) or stay nearby and commute each day ($120).
When: June 24-26
Pride Vermont, Burlington
The Pride Vermont parade and festival is set to take place on September 18, with over a week of programming leading up to it. Expecting 3,000-4,000 attendees this year, last year’s events over the main weekend included a queer bike ride, a Pride ball and drag show, the parade and festival, and a Pride closing party at Red Square Alley. The Pride Center of Vermont’s Justin Marsh shares that the parade route will start on King Street at the Hood Plant, and then navigate up Church Street until Cherry Street. “[Then] turns west until Battery, and then south to Waterfront Park — essentially a horseshoe shape route.” It’ll feature some regional and national organizations that take part with their local branches (such as Vermont’s own Ben & Jerry’s), and local businesses, organizations, groups, and schools.
When: September 9-18