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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

Anger Manager

October 29th, 2009
9:11 am

Captain Midnight, do you want to talk about why you are so angry. I am here to listen.


October 29th, 2009
8:39 am

The Pride festival is held every year in every major (unoppressed) city in the world and Atlanta is no exception. Pride is usually held in June of every year and it commemorates the June 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City when, for the first time, GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered) people stopped agreeing to be beaten up and harassed just because the police felt like it. This year it’s being held in October because of last year’s drought affecting Piedmont Park’s event scheduling. Why not come to Piedmont Park this weekend, or watch the parade on Sunday, and enjoy some of the great food, listen to the performers, enjoy the sunshine, see what it’s about. Learn about the world, appreciate differences, celebrate common hopes and accomplishments, learn to live together in harmony…that’s what Pride is to me.

here we go again

October 29th, 2009
8:35 am

Oh wonderful. Another weekend of absolute gridlock in the area around my neighborhood, where it takes me 45 minutes of waiting in traffic and taking detours just to go the 2 miles to get back to my house from the interstate. YAY.

aaron kopper

October 29th, 2009
8:25 am

only jesus christ can offer a new life and a new start for all people. he died on the cross so that all can have eternal life.


October 29th, 2009
8:23 am

Gay Pride is for people who have to be ashamed of who they are the rest of the time – ranging from those who can’t talk about their partners at work to those who are physically abused by family members for their orientation.

For every person there in a “look at me!” outfit, there’s two dozen who look like the guy in front of you in line at the bank, or the people you see walking through your office lobby. Perhaps having “look at me!” people around makes the majority more comfortable to just walk around the park holding hands or being able to introduce their significant other as something besides “my friend.”


October 29th, 2009
6:51 am

midtown resides; now just curl up with a good book, look out your windows, what will you see, yes men woman kids and oh yes, they are gay and having fun and relaxation while you sit and say i wish it was me, come on out

[...] Festival: Atlanta Pride Festival runs through Nov. 1, Piedmont Park, Atlanta. FREE. What to know before you go. [...]

Miss pooh

October 28th, 2009
8:26 pm

I love being a lesbian and i am not ashamed to say it i look at it like this i have pride weekend every weekend cause thats the only club i be in is gay clubs but its my birthday weekend just have fun see you there


October 28th, 2009
3:56 pm

OMG is this coming back to ATL again this year? I hear New Orleans is a great gay hang out….so is Panama City…..anywhere BUT ATL please…no harm intended…

Captain Midnight

October 28th, 2009
3:54 pm

@Not Captain Midnight..How is overcoming my arrogance their accomplishment? Bitter and ignorant am I? Did I name call? Socially forgotten? Was alchohol socially forgotten during prohibition? Can we just stop with all the “Look at me I’m black and proud, I’m gay and proud” etc. It’s all just kind of desperate. “Look at me!!”