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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

Jamie Gumbrecht

October 30th, 2009
11:31 am

Thanks K Ryan! I’ll clarify in the post!

K Ryan

October 30th, 2009
11:04 am

The above article erroneously states “no tents” spoke with Paul of the Pride committee moments ago and tents are indeed permitted as long as Piedmont Park guidelines are stakes etc. Be certain to read park guidelines and COME TO PRIDE WEEKEND AND SHOW YOUR PRIDE!!!

Break it down

October 30th, 2009
10:46 am

We’ve been made to feel ashamed, wrong and sick by society for a very long time. We’ve been excluded, put down, jailed, banned, discriminated against – you name it. Some of our families have not been proud of us and we’ve had to find our own way. Many religions reject and marginalize us until we said we too are God’s children. Pride simply means to be proud of who you are, regardless of others’ ignorance or judgment. Of course you dont’ get it if you’re not gay….black……etc.

To top it off we don’t have the same civil and federal rights as does every other American citizen. The message is no different than it is for any other oppressed group. You don’t get it if it hasn’t touched your life or you’re prejudiced.

Captain Midnight

October 30th, 2009
9:52 am

Hey Brad, well said. Btw, they’re gonna call you worse than redneck.


October 30th, 2009
9:01 am

Before anyone calls me a redneck or accuses me of “hate,” I want to say that I don’t care what two people do in the privacy of their own home. I really don’t even care if the state chooses to acknowledge them as “married” or not. My main concern is my family and their well-being. I used to live in Midtown and during the gay pride weekend, we would see people wearing costumes or outfits that were just simply unacceptable for children. I don’t mean in the park, I knew to stay away, I mean in restaurants and shops. There is a common standard of decency that some (definitely, not all) that attend gay pride throw out the window. It’s like they think its’ their weekend to expose the world to their immoral standards. I don’t care who you sleep with, in fact, I just want you to be happy, so do whomever you please, just behave and dress in public according to community standards.


October 29th, 2009
7:50 pm

SHUT-UP….Some of these comments are so ignorant..PLEASE!!..Grow up..Find a life to Get..And do it TODAY

Jonathan Kivett

October 29th, 2009
4:34 pm

Gay Pride might seem like an outdated cliche to those who live in major cities, but every year I have attended, I have heard more than one person who has made a pilgrimage from a small town in the southeast (and elsewhere). Not everyone can afford to leave their birthplace and move to a gay-friendly city. For those who live in smaller, less accepting places, Pride festivals give them a sense of belonging, of not being isolated and alone. For some people, that gathering can give them the courage to come out and be who they are. For others, it can show them a world where being gay IS a non-issue, and maybe they will break away from their roots and join that world.

And for some folks, seeing that they are truly not alone may be the difference, even in this day and age, between life and death.

I think it’s incredibly jaded to pretend that, just because we live in a world where no one cares or minds, that everyone else does. Maybe someday there will be no need for Pride Festivals. Maybe there will be no need to address homophobia and racism, because those things will dry up and disappear. I certainly wish that were the case today. It is, sadly, not.

ATL Shawty

October 29th, 2009
11:51 am

NENE is STILL the bomb!!!

Captain Midnight

October 29th, 2009
11:43 am

Edward, that was very clever. “Ignorant pride” get it? Like gay pride cept ignorant pride. Guess you told me.


October 29th, 2009
10:22 am

I see people like Captain Midnight and Midtown Residing are representing Ignorant Pride quite nicely.