LGBT PRIDE and joy - the best of events and festivals for all ages across the country
This weekend kicks off a season of LGBT celebrations across the country. Tanya Sweeney highlights the best events and festivals for all ages
LGBT Pride has grown from small beginnings into one of the most joyous times of the year. Families and revellers, young and old come together to celebrate how Irish people have overcome inequalities and embraced citizens of all sexual identities. If it's good music, great vibes and eye-popping pageantry you're after, you can't go far wrong at a Pride event.
This weekend, Dublin Pride will bring a riot of colour and craic to the capital, yet the fun and festivities can be enjoyed beyond the capital and all the way through summer. It could be a very busy few months ahead...
Dublin LGBTQ Pride, runs until July 1
The big daddy of Ireland's Pride events, this nine-day extravaganza culminates with the Pride Parade, which runs from Stephen's Green to Smithfield (from 2pm). It's a fun, all-ages event, with speeches and entertainment kicking off on Stephen's Green from noon. Many corporate companies, keen to celebrate their diverse workplaces, create specially made floats for the event (think Paddy's Day, but a little less green and perhaps fewer cheerleaders).
Revellers can get set up for the day at two popular pre-parade events: the Outhouse Pride Breakfast (Outhouse, 105 Capel Street, Dublin 1, 9am) is a non-alcohol event for meat eaters and vegans alike, while younger Pride attendees (14-23) can head to Youth Work Ireland on 20 Dominick Street Lower for their free Youth Breakfast (from 10.30am).
Tonight, Pride fans can attend a screening of the tear-jerking dramedy Pride at 7.30pm (Reel Politics, 24/25 Hill Street, Dublin 1, donation-based admission). Foodie fans can enjoy a special Pride dinner at Brother Hubbard on Capel Street (organised by Running Amach-LGBTQ Women's Social Networking Club) from 5-7pm.
This year's Pride theme is 'We Are Family'. Wet & Wild is one of Ireland's biggest LGBT outdoor pursuits club, and its members will be out in force, they warn, with their water guns over the weekend.
Over at the Gallery Of Photography on Meeting House Square, GCN (Gay Community News) is marking 30 years as Ireland's biggest LGBT publication with a massive retrospective exhibition. Enjoy a host of striking GCN covers, as well as archival material that tells the tumultuous story of Ireland's gay community over the last three decades (free, runs until July 1).
Samantha Mumba will preside over the official Pride afterparty on Saturday night at Opium on Wexford Street (7.30pm, €15), while drag superstars Victoria Secret and Davina Devine lead a group of 10 Dublin performers at Twenty Two on South Anne Street (6pm, €15).
Wind down the weekend on Sunday evening at Pride Bingo with drag queen Shirley Temple Bar (The George, George's Street, 9.30pm, €5) - there may even be prizes to be won.
Limerick LGBTQ Pride Festival, July 2-7
Vowing to be a celebration of all of the people of Limerick, this Pride really does have something for everyone. Think workshops, support meetings, dicusssions and parties galore. Richard Lynch, founder of the I Love Limerick arts event, will be the parade's Grand Marshall. Print With Pride (July 3, 4pm), a free event where people can create their own custom silk-screen art piece, takes place at the Limerick Printmakers Studio in John's Square. Down in Hook & Ladder on Sarsfield Street, Cupcakes with Charnell (July 3, 6pm) is a hands-on masterclass in making delicious rainbow cupcakes. Friday, July 6, sees the city pay heartfelt tribute to the late Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan with a special concert featuring over 20 local artists (Dolan's Warehouse, 9pm).
Dundalk Pride, July 14
Small but perfectly formed, the ninth annual Dundalk event is held at the Outcomers centre (8 Roden Place) and promises to be a fun day out for the whole family. Visitors can enjoy music, coffee, talks and great baking, and the event is also accessible to those with mobility issues.
Cork Pride, July 29 - August 5
Bearing the theme 'This Is Me' this year, Cork's Pride celebrations feature a huge parade at, well, Grand Parade (from 12pm, August 5).
The programme of events for the week is still being firmed up, but it is estimated that over 15,000 visitors will make their way to the Rebel County for one of the most welcoming Pride events in the calendar.
And given that Cork Pride will be celebrating a quarter century since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, this year's weeklong celebrations promise to be very special.
Drogheda Pride, August 11-12
Louth may be a small county, but they're pretty big on LGBT celebrations. Once the confetti for Dundalk Pride has been swept away, the LGBT community in Louth can look forward to Drogheda Pride - two days of colourful characters, revelry and a BBQ; perfect for a sunny summer weekend.
Galway Pride, August 13-19
Now in its 28th year, Galway Pride is every bit as sociable and entertaining as its Dublin counterpart.
Proving its inclusiveness, the weeklong event holds dance and music events, workshops, political talks and events for families, as well as that all-important parade.
Foyle Pride Festival, August 18-25
Foyle Pride, celebrating the diverse community in the Derry-Londonderry area, is now in its 25th year. Its hugely bright and popular parade leaves Waterside Train Station at 2pm on August 25 and follows the route of the historic Civil Rights March of October 1968.
The full 2018 programme has yet to be announced, but the Foyle organisers have stellar form when it comes to putting on a diverse week of events. You can expect comedy, identity workshops, film screenings, pub quizzes, performance artists, portrait exhibitions and even a roller derby open skate with the Maiden City Fliers.
Newry Pride, September 1
The latest addition to the Pride festivals in Northern Ireland, Newry holds in high regard its long history of tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people. The Pride in Newry Parade starts at 2pm at McClelland Park, where an open-air concert kicks off proceedings. Families can enjoy a funfair and face painting, as well as a number of diverse food stalls. Later that night, the Pride Ball takes place in Bellinis on Monaghan Street (from 9pm, tickets are £12.50), where thanks to yet more music, Pride patrons can dance, eat and enjoy the night away.
The Outing at Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, October 5-6
Not a Pride celebration as such, but certainly the next best thing. A novel and inclusive twist on an age-old tradition, The Outing has become a world famous LGBT Music & Matchmaking festival. Gay men and women descend on the sleepy Clare town in the hopes of finding love (or even lust), but the event has become a de facto celebration of all things LGBT.
In between Blind Date sessions and meetings with chief matchmaker Eddie McGuinness, visitors to the fun-filled weekend can expect pop-up clubs, a film festival, drag performances, outdoor walks and surfing sessions.
There might even be a minute or two in the heaving schedule to find love.