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Chicago Pridefest 2014 comes to the city’s incomparable gay neighborhood

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Get ready for a fabulous weekend, Chicago. On Saturday, June 21st and Sunday, June 22nd, all of Chicago will celebrate a festival whose slogan is “Because bigger is always better.” What else really needs to be said?

Chicago Pridefest is an annual milestone event on North Halsted between Belmont and Addison, hosted by the Northalsted Business Alliance. Anyone unfamiliar with this neighborhood can simply look for the large gold and rainbow-colored statues on Halsted as a clear indication that they’re entering Pridefest territory. The large number of rainbow-adorned dance clubs may be a tipoff, too.

This city has a long history of applauding its vibrant LGBT community, and as more and more states officially recognize an array of gay rights and President Obama contemplates an LGBT anti-discrimination bill, Pride Celebrations across the country become increasingly relevant and celebratory. Starting in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1970, Pride Celebrations honor the long history of LGBTQ dignity and recognize the freedom of all people to express their sexual and gender identities openly and proudly.

Chicago’s annual Pride Fest has grown to be one of the largest and most well-known (and well-attended) Gay Pride events in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people from the Chicago area and beyond engage in a gay pride pilgrimage to the Northalsted neighborhood every year.

As followers of previous Chicago festivals will know, Chicagoans are not excellent at patiently waiting for the official commencement of a much-anticipated event. Enthusiastic Pride supporters can start celebrating early, as events such as the Sidetrack Anniversary Party with 80s prizes and food trucks, LGBT Books for Pride Month, and Cram Fashion’s Pride Party begin as early as Thursday, June 19th. A complete (and quite lengthy) list of Pride events can be found at http://chicagopride.gopride.com/events.cfm.

In need of an insider tip? Don't miss Sidetrack. Just don't. Start to see why at http://www.sidetrackchicago.com/.

When the festival officially begins, two stages host (what else?) live music from both internationally renowned pop artists and some of the best performers in the city’s gay community, with a third stage providing DJs to entertain the festival’s many attendees. Guests can enjoy the cleverly interspersed performance schedule, which staggers such autograph-worthy artists as Jennifer Hudson and Betty Who with the Pride Drag Show, Chicago Spirit Brigade, and Windy City Cowboys. Fuzzy LGBT supporters can even participate in the PetSmart Pet Pride Parade on Sunday, June 22nd at noon.

In addition to enjoying live music of both a world-famous and local variety, Pridefest guests can enjoy food and drink and more than sixty vendors offering arts, crafts, and unique merchandise that revel in Chicago’s dynamic gay community.

Next weekend, on June 29th at noon, Chicago Pride will bring its annual celebration to a close with the 45th Annual Chicago Pride Parade. The parade will start its raucous path from Broadway and Montrose in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood and travel south on Broadway. It will continue south on Halsted, then east on Belmont, then south on Broadway, then east on Diversey to Cannon Drive. Confused or directionally challenged? The parade’s estimated 850,000-plus guests can find a parade route map at http://chicagopride.gopride.com/entry.cfm.

As could be expected from a festival that honors all identities, Chicago Pridefest is an extremely accessible event. Admission to the festival is free, with only a suggested voluntary donation to support the Northalsted Business Alliance. Both Pridefest and the Parade are open to visitors of all ages. Even pets are welcome, although some furry friends may be startled by the noise and crowds of the event.

Preparing to attend your first Pridefest? Setting aside the probably needed “Where have you been for the past ten years” question, virgin attendees can find an extremely comprehensive list of tips and insider tricks from Pridefest experts on Chicago Pride’s website. Parade and festival viewing tips cover such a wide array of topics as dining, getting rest, meeting people, toilets, and what to wear. See all tips at http://chicagopride.gopride.com/tips.cfm.

Chicago Pridefest really is a can’t-miss event in the Windy City. Why not end the first month of summer with two weekends of pure, unadulterated joy?

All festival details can be found at http://chicagopride.gopride.com/index.cfm, http://www.northalsted.com/pages/chicago_pride_fest__2014/147.php, and http://www.chicagoevents.com/event.cfm?eid=142.

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