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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

OTP Gay Conservative

October 31st, 2009
8:37 pm

I am a fiscally conservative gay man living OTP. I have never been to a Pride Parade. In philly we had a fall event called Outfest, it was a street fair, and did not invite the costumed rituals that Pride Parades do. I do think that if the gay community ever wants to be trully socially accepted, they need to learn the difference between public and private attire. How does being walked down the street in a jockstrap, a dog collar and leash, in anyway signify pride? Is that what Stonewall Riots taught us? The time of Stonewall was a different world. People were arrested and jailed for patronizing ‘gay’ bars or clubs, even if they were just playing pool and drinking beer, in 2009 there are two gay television networks, gay characters on the three major television networks, gay politicians etc. The time for the archaic festivals and parades has passed. I say this because I am sure the only things that will be covered by the media will be the extremists.

Patrick Wilson

October 31st, 2009
12:12 pm

Pride has turned into nothing more than a Corporate event. I have been to Pride every year since 1994. I never see anything but Corporations hawking their services I know they pay big bucks for the tent space. The thing that bothers me is no one seems to realize that Pride 2009 is a corporate event. I am curious where does all the money go that is generated. Deirdre Heffernan you are the CEO per the the Secretary of State, PAUL GIBSON you are the CFO per the Secretary of State just how much money are you being paid. Except for the Parade which I have yet to understand why everyone walking does not carry a sign stating I am your Doctor,Lawyer,Plumber,Electrcian,etc. Instead all you see are screaming Queens that do not represent 98% of our population, That is what is shown on the T.V. and Newspapers.The final insult was having Pride on Halloween weekend. Paul McCartney can have his show in the park but the GAY PRIDE is giving Halloween wake up Gay Atlanta you just got slapped in the face again. And you are going to allow it. Shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!


October 31st, 2009
7:18 am

A few years ago I had the pleasure of spending a day with my nephew at the Pride Festival in Daytona Beach. The people there made me feel very welcome and I enjoyed my day. Guess what a**holes, they didn’t condem me for being straight. BTW, I lost my precious nephew to HIV a couple of years later. I still cherish that day with him.


October 30th, 2009
11:47 pm

homophobes. stay in your house, watch fox news, and leave the rest of us alone. thanks.


October 30th, 2009
7:43 pm

I love Pride Fest – everyone has so much fun, there’s so much happiness and love all around, so much freedom for everyone to be exactly who they are – makes me wish I was gay. :)


October 30th, 2009
5:30 pm

So you can’t bring Alcohol into the park? What’s up with that???????????

anyone care?

October 30th, 2009
2:14 pm

Let it rain.

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October 30th, 2009
1:44 pm

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October 30th, 2009
1:35 pm

Thanks, ScottM, for letting us know what Pride weekend in June commemorates. I could never understand why any group would choose the dead heat of summer to have a parade/get-together – and now I know!

Regardless of the time of the year, I think it’s great that people can celebrate being comfortable with who and how they are. Most of the time, it takes at least 50 years for ANYONE – gay or straight – to feel at home in his own skin – so anything ahead of that curve is a plus.

Have a great weekend!


October 30th, 2009
12:24 pm

Lesbian here. Some of us also struggle with how some of our sisters dress or don’t dress. However, part of our culture is acceptance. I think November may be good since it’s colder and may require more clothes! lol

I love PrideFest