Denver PrideFest 2017: your guide to all things pride

Break out your rainbow flag — or wings, or hats, or bikinis, whatever — Denver PrideFest is here.

Megan took a moment to admire the festival. Pride means "I'm able to love who I want to love," she said. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
Megan took a moment to admire the festival. Pride means "I'm able to love who I want to love," she said. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
Denver PrideFest 2016. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Break out your rainbow flag — or wings, or hats, or bikinis, whatever — Denver PrideFest is here.

The Queen City’s 42nd annual celebration of all things LGBT will once again bring performances, art, drinks, food and fun to Civic Center Park for the weekend. Plus, of course, the usual parade, rally and Big Gay 5K.

Below is your guide to all things Pride, where organizers say you’ve got a chance to be one of 350,000 people taking part in the weekend’s events.

Where and when is the parade?

It’s right here:

(Provided by GLBT Colorado)
(Provided by GLBT Colorado)

The officially-named Coors Light PrideFest Parade begins in Cheesman Park at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. It’ll travel north along Franklin Street, turning west on Colfax Avenue, which it will traverse the rest of the way to Civic Center Park.

Organizers say this year’s parade will be the largest in Denver PrideFest history. This year’s grand marshals will be officials from the Colorado Health Network, celebrating the 30th anniversary of their AIDS Walk Colorado.

The Denver 2016 Pride Parade began early Sunday in Cheesman Park and snaked down Colfax to Pride Fest. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
The 2016 PrideFest Parade. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Pro tip: Little Man Ice Cream will be giving out free scoops of its limited-run rainbow ice cream along the parade route, outside (and in partnership with) FirstBank at Franklin and Colfax. They’ll be there from 10 a.m. to noon, or until they run out of ice cream. And if you go get rainbow ice cream from Little Man from June 19-25, $5 of your scoop will be donated to Rainbow Alley.

Parades are too slow. I want to run.

Well, aren’t you ambitious!

The Big Gay 5K is at 10 a.m. Saturday, with a route from Civic Center Park to Cheesman Park and back.

Registration is $40. Packet pickup is from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday at the GLBT Center, 1301 E Colfax Ave., or from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. on race day at the packet pick-up and pre-registration tent.

All ages are welcome and, you know, you’re welcome to walk the Big Gay 5K, too.

What about the rally?

The rally will be held at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on the western steps of the Capitol. Organized by the GLBT Community Center of Colorado and ONE Colorado, the rally will include statements from state leaders, activists and community groups.

Who is performing at the festival?

Here are the top-billed artists booked on the Center Stage at the Greek Amphitheatre:

  • Jennifer Holiday, who starred as Effie White in the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls,” will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday.
  • Chad Michaels, winner of the first season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars” and Cher impersonator of 20 years, will perform at 3 p.m. Saturday.
  • Peppermint (Agnes Moore), a New York City nightlife fixture and contestant on the ninth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” will perform at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

And there are dozens more artists on the bill.

DeMarcio Slaughter speaks to Denver Pridefest. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
DeMarcio Slaughter speaks at Denver PrideFest 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
I’m feeling artsy and also reverent. Where’s my outlet?

Artist Lonnie Hanzon is back again, along with Paulo Wellman, this time with a sculpture made up for five shrines, more than 200 prayer flags, four contemplation benches and a totem to celebrate all faiths.

They’re calling it Shrine to Humanity, and it will also honor Gilbert Baker, who created the rainbow flag in 1978 and died this year. It will be located near the flower beds at the center of Civic Center Park.

And inside the McNichols Building, 144 W. Colfax Ave., they’ll be displaying panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt. from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Are there activities for kids?

There will be a family area set up at 14th Avenue and Broadway. Here’s the daily schedule of kids’ stuff:

Noon: Games and races for families with children up to 12 years old
1 p.m.: Free concert from Mile High Freedom Band
2 p.m.: Cheerleading lessons
3:15 p.m.: Kids’ cheerleading performance
4:30 p.m.: Games and races for families with children up to 12 years old (Saturday only)

And all day, they’ll have family-friendly music and dancing, art projects and a solar-powered bubble machine.

Help me navigate the festival.

Here’s a handy map with everything you need to know.

(Provided by GLBT Colorado)
(Provided by GLBT Colorado)

It’s up and running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

What are the rules?

Great question. A lot of the rules have to do with beverages. Here are the official rules as laid out by the organizers:

  • No coolers.
  • All bags are subject to search.
  • No outside alcohol allowed.
  • No open beverage containers allowed into the park. This includes water bottles. Only factory-seal water or soda bottles allowed. There are free water fountains inside the park.
  • Guests will not be allowed to carry beverages outside the fenced perimeter.
  • No weapons of any type allowed in the park.
  • No pot allowed in the park. Public marijuana smoking is illegal in Denver.
  • No bicycles or unicycles allowed in the park.
  • Pets should be left at home for their comfort and safety.
Disco boots help make Charlie's sparkle. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Disco boots help make Charlie’s sparkle. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
What about events outside the festival?

Well, there’s a lot to do, so I hope you’re rested up. Among the festivities this week are Pride Night at the Rockies game and/or a Mya concert on Friday and a Super Pride IPA release on Saturday.

One Colorado has a helpful list of events, including those, on Facebook.

What’s happening at the bars?

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • At Charlie’s, 900 E. Colfax Ave., they’re once again taking over the parking lot for a weekend-long bash. Friday through Sunday, they’ll have a waterslide, slip and slide, pool, deck, food vendor, merchandise vendors and drinks. And, of course, there will be DJs and performances inside and out.
  • X Bar, 629 E. Colfax Ave., has a variety of events going on, including happy hours, dance parties and their wet underwear shower contest and a black light party.
  • The Wrangler, 3090 Downing St., will have parties on Friday and Saturday nights and a beer bust block party on Sunday.
  • Tracks, 3500 Walnut St., kicks things off Thursday night with Alex Newell from “Glee.” Friday night will be the Women’s Pride Party and Drag Nation nigh,t and on Saturday, LeAnn Rimes performs.
  • Blush & Blu, 1526 E. Colfax Ave., is throwing its official Queer Party for non-binary, transgender, nonconforming humans and “everyone in between and beyond” starting at 9:30 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, they’ll have the Denver Dyke March & Rally, with the rally at 1 p.m. and the march at 3 p.m. On Sunday, they’ll be celebrating/watching the parade.
Well, it sounds like I’m going to need a ride.

Good. Please don’t drink and drive. Through the end of June, Lyft is offering 25 percent off one ride to or from the GLBT Center or Denver PrideFest with code EMXPDENPRIDE.

A nice bonus: Every time that code is used, Lyft will donate $1 to the GLBT Center.

Or maybe I’ll bike?

Cool. Love this enthusiasm for exercise. Here’s where you can park your bike near the festival:

  • 14th Street between Bannock & Broadway (in front of the DAM)
  • Broadway between 14th & 13th (in front of the Denver Public Library)
  • 14th Street between Cherokee & Bannock (in front of the City & County Building)
  • 11th & Broadway
  • 12th & Broadway
  • 13th & Broadway
  • 16th & Broadway
  • 12th & Lincoln
  • 13th & Lincoln
  • 13th & Acoma
  • 14th & Cherokee
  • 14th & Court
  • 15th & Court
  • Court & Colfax
Throughout the day, the main stage hosted a series of performers and paid tribute to Orlando victims. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
Denver PrideFest 2016. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
Will there be street closures?

You bet. The following streets will be closed beginning on Friday:

  • Bannock Street from Colfax Avenue to 13th Avenue, beginning at 7 a.m.
  • 14th Avenue from Cherokee Street to Broadway, beginning at 7 a.m.
  • Colfax Avenue, eastbound, from Cherokee Street to Lincoln Street beginning at 6 p.m.
  • Colfax Avenue, westbound, from Lincoln Street to Cherokee Street, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
  • Broadway from the 16th Street Mall to 13th Avenue, beginning at 7 p.m.

All streets will reopen at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

I want to help out.

That’s great! The sign-up process is a little different this year.

You’ll need to head over the the GLBT Colorado website to check on volunteer opportunities and fill out this form. Once you’re signed up, you should get a confirmation email that includes a volunteer FAQ and orientation information.

That’s it. You’re ready to help. And for your efforts you’ll get a free meal and T-shirt.

Have fun!
A gogo dancer in a unicorn mask pumped up the crowd. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
(Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Ashley Dean

Author: Ashley Dean

Ashley Dean covers dining and nightlife, and other odds and ends. She previously covered music and did some copy editing for the Denver Post, the Colorado Daily and the Daily Camera. She's from New York, likes her bourbon straight and has strong opinions about Kanye West. She can be reached at adean@denverite.com, 303-502-2804 or @AshleyDean.