San Francisco is a city that loves to celebrate, and there’s no livelier celebration than SF Pride, when the city explodes into a rainbow-colored party celebrating LGBTQ rights and history.
It all began on June 28, 1970, when gay rights supporters marched on the one-year anniversary of the historic Stonewall Riots in New York’s Greenwich Village. Over the past 44 years, it’s grown into a weekend-long event culminating in the annual parade down Market Street to San Francisco’s Civic Center. It’s also the nation’s largest pride event, with 1.5 million people expected to attend this year on June 28-29.
The festivities are anchored at Civic Center, with 22 stages and entertainment venues set up in the surrounding area. Among this year’s headliners is Xelle, the edgy girl group that shot an impromptu dance party aboard a moving New York Subway train for its inaugural music video.
The party comes to a climax with Sunday’s parade down Market Street, starting at Beale Street and ending at 8th Street. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrity grand marshals, television personality Ross Matthews and best-selling author Janet Mock.
The grandstands are by far the best place to watch, but they require advance tickets and sell out quickly. If you haven’t snagged a seat, arrive early in the morning to secure a good viewing position on Market Street.
The upstairs patio at Bluestem Brasserie is also a great place to watch while you enjoy a celebratory brunch. This year the restaurant has crafted a commemorative Green Lantern cocktail. Served only during Pride Weekend, the spirits celebrate the gay DC Comics superhero.
What to Expect
While festivities are famous for their outrageous and outspoken participants, the atmosphere is more open than aggressive. So while you can still expect drag queens flouncing and strutting in glittery regalia and more leather than the Ferragamo factory sees in a year, it’s a welcoming and friendly atmosphere for those of all walks of life.
Keep in mind that San Francisco summers can be cool, so you’ll likely want to dress in layers (yes, your feather boa counts as a scarf). Make sure your getup includes comfortable—yet fabulous—footwear. You’re likely to do a lot of walking, and even more dancing. And this is one celebration where you won’t want to miss a beat.