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Know before you go: Atlanta Pride Festival, Oct. 31-Nov. 1

Update 11/2: How did it go? See pictures and share your experiences at the festival here!
GAYPRIDE 2 (Small)

Erica Rosalle and other volunteers carried rainbow flag up Peachtree Street during Pride in 2004. AJC file photo

The Atlanta Pride Festival returns to its home in Piedmont Park this year, but in a new season — Oct. 31-Nov. 1 instead of a weekend in June.

Expect a big crowd — the festival has drawn up to 200,000 in the past, although attendance was down during its brief move out of Piedmont Park during the drought. Given the timing around Halloween, they expect even more than usual to be wearing costumes. There are some special events meant only for adults, but the festival itself is family-friendly and open to all, whether gay, heterosexual, lesbian, trans or otherwise.

If festival regulars have advice for how to better enjoy the weekend, suggestions are always welcome in the comments!

To start, here’s what you need to know before you go:

The Pride Festival itself is free, but there are some special events that require paid admission, and plenty of unofficial events at restaurants, clubs and stores nearby. For the festival itself, you’ll see people who spend all weekend at Piedmont Park, and others that drop by for an hour to see the Festival Market. Before you go, I suggest you check out Atlanta Pride’s list of special events, and this list published in the AJC last week. Here are details on a few of the best-known events:

  • Critical Mass-querade: You won’t find this on a list of official events, but the Critical Mass bike ride this month celebrates Halloween and Pride by asking riders to don costumes. You may want to join in, or simply avoid the roads. 6 p.m. Oct. 30. Free. Starts at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta.
  • Concerts: There are live shows running throughout the festival. Here’s a full lineup, including Blake Lewis of “American Idol” fame. Noon-7 p.m. Oct. 31, 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 1. Free. Stages inside Piedmont Park.
  • Children’s activities: There isn’t a children’s area at the festival, but there are a lot of children running around with their friends and families. There is a children’s show from 10 a.m.-noon Oct. 31. Free. Piedmont Park Pavilion.
  • Commitment Ceremony: There’s a non-denominational commitment ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 31, Piedmont Park Pavilion. $25.
  • Parade and marches: Onlookers will start lining up around noon Nov. 1 for the annual Pride Parade. The parade starts at 1 p.m. and runs from Ralph McGill and West Peachtree, down Peachtree, right on 10th Street and into Piedmont Park.  There’s also a Trans March at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 31, and a Dyke March at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 31. Free.

What to bring, what not to bring
All the usual Piedmont Park rules apply during this festival. Don’t bring tents with stakes or anything that must be driven into the ground, glass containers, alcoholic beverages, weapons or pets — no dogs, no snakes — unless it’s a service animal. As of Friday, weather forecasts are getting a little uglier, with some rain likely. Wear a hat and sunscreen. There will be water available throughout the park and at certain events.

How to get there
Wear your walking shoes, because there’s a lot of ground to cover. Here’s a festival map that shows the stages and locations for different activities. Now, to get to the park…

  • By car: As with any event at Piedmont Park, you can take a car, but parking won’t be easy. Expect street closures, especially around from 1-3 p.m. on Nov. 1, spaces blocked in the neighborhoods around the park and high prices for lots and garages nearby.
  • By train: MARTA is always the easier option to get to Piedmont Park during a big event. The nearest stations are Midtown and Arts Center. Here’s a map that gives directions and shows how to walk from the station to the park. Remember that single MARTA fares recently jumped to $2 per ride!
  • By bike: Volunteers from the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition will be on hand to valet park bikes during the Pride Parade, which starts at 1 p.m. Sunday. Otherwise, there are bike racks located around the park.

How to stay in touch
Atlanta Pride is on Twitter @atlantapride and on Facebook.

Want to go? Atlanta Pride Festival. Oct. 31-Nov. 1. Free. Piedmont Park, 1071 Piedmont Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 770-491-8633,

For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

60 comments Add your comment


October 28th, 2009
3:32 pm

Don’t miss the “Dykes on Bikes” during the parade on Sunday (hopefully it won’t rain). Some of those guys, oooops i meant girls look hilarious! Hopefully some of the local queens won’t go over board this year with their costumes or lack off and embarrass the rest of us.


October 28th, 2009
3:22 pm

I don’t think it’s flaunting sexuality Rather, it’s pride in how far the Gay and Lesbian community has come in society.
No longer do we have to hide. We don’t have to live in shame, nor fear.

We are able to live open, happy, productive lives with no boundaries. Let’s celebrate. We need to take pride in where we are now.


October 28th, 2009
3:15 pm

Sorry if your gay your not allowed OTP you must get back inside the perimeter.

while I have ur attention

October 28th, 2009
3:09 pm

ARE there any gay/lesbian friendly meeting places /bistros(whatever) in Gwinnett? I am old and not a bar hopper anymore but would still like to meet friends in open environment. Not just pride festival every year. Were can us burb-inites go?
I’m tired of Sam’s.

GA Girl

October 28th, 2009
3:03 pm

I hope the weekend in the park is enjoyable. I wished that all were welcomed at Piedmont Park. Some cultures would be greeted by angry residents and police officers.


October 28th, 2009
2:52 pm

Hey now sometime you just need to keep your mouth shut and let people enjoy themselves.

Midtown Residing

October 28th, 2009
2:38 pm

Im gay, and to be honest, there’s not alot to be proud of by “just being gay.” I don’t believe in pride or shame so it’s hard for me to relate to this, but, I do agree with The Captain, be proud of your accomplishments not that you are gay. We should call it a celebration of gay people, but not pride.


October 28th, 2009
2:25 pm

The Lesbian tent city fills the lower meadow of Piedmont Park to capacity during Pride weekend. It’s cool to see people enjoying themselves and relaxed.

NOT Capt Midnight

October 28th, 2009
2:20 pm

Captain Midnight, the accomplishment is overcoming your arrogance. Do you feel left out in life? Is that what makes you bitter and ignorant about everything? Though gay citizens have been socially forgotten in times past and repremanded for who they are, they’d like to welcome you to their weekend celebration where they acknowledge those overcomings.

Captain Midnight

October 28th, 2009
2:10 pm

What are they proud of? Being gay? That’s nothing to be proud of any more than being proud to be straight,white or black. You take “pride in accomplishments. Your skin color or sexual orientation is not an accomplishment.