The Austin Pride Festival and Parade 2016 is about to make its 26th annual appearance, and events this week are ramping up for the celebration on Saturday at Edward Rendon Sr. Park Festival Gardens. Events will take place all week from Greasy Ball Bingo tonight, The Pride Pageant Wednesday and more, all leading to the big weekend! There are plenty of things to do this week in Austin to celebrate!

Notable events this week include an all-LGBTQ art show on Wednesday at Q Austin - a local safe and affirming space for young queer people.  The event begins at 6 p.m. and will showcase the work of local artists.  There will be a mock-tail and safer sex bar so visitors can stock up on safer-sex materials. Q Austin also is hosting a RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars Season 2 watch party Thursday at 6 p.m. for those interested in cheering on their favorite drag queens. 

Fun for the 21 and up crowd starts Friday night with Lesbutante & The Boss Present: Austin Pride Official Women’s Party 2016 at the Highland Lounge and the Xposed: Official Men’s Party at Oilcan Harrys. Lesbutante opens at 8 p.m. and will have a special guest appearance from the Real World’s Rose Garcia; DJAthenz from Houston’s HOT 97.5 will be spinning for the event.  On the men’s side, DJ Kidd Maddonny is a featured guest, and adult toy producer Fleshjack will be in the house with products and giveaways.

The festivities just keep getting better, though, as the Pride Festival begins Saturday morning at 11 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. that evening.  Talent includes drag talent from RuPaul’s Drag Race as well as local drag stars and the queen of bounce, Big Freedia. Austin Pride president Paul Huddleston said the Pride committee took feedback from event-goers last year and made some key improvements to the event. Namely, they added a second stage to the adult section of the festival as well as an additional entrance.  Huddleston said the full entertainment lineup will be revealed Wednesday and can only be seen on the Austin Pride app.  “We always love to have an eclectic mix of the '80s and ‘90s, from the 2000s to present stars, and up-and-coming talent, too,” Huddleston said.  “Local talent entertains us all year, so they should be on stage with national and international event talent.”
The festival’s theme is Cirque; the board added the Cirque concept to the adult section by including attractions and rides - including life-sized Rock ‘Em Sock Em Robots.  “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” laughed Huddleston. Improvements were made in the family section, too, as an entrance was added that backs directly up to the parking lot - providing folks with kids and strollers easier access to the festival. Additionally, anyone who buys advanced tickets online will be able to go to any gate to enter the festival.  “They will have a dedicated line at each entrance,” Huddleston explained.
Austin Pride will conclude with a parade that packs 4th Street with flags, music, and more floats than ever before. Huddleston estimated that 15,000 people will walk in the parade - 65 percent of which are associated with local non-profit organizations and social groups.“When you see a lot of pride parades, a lot of the time it’s dominated by corporations,” Huddleston explained.  “It’s so important to remember that this is about equality."  It’s the equality movement, and this amount of non-corporate participants is a big deal. Local participation also has grown in terms of the number of floats in the parade: Huddleston said there will be more than 40 floats on Saturday - nearly doubling last year’s 22.  Additionally, the parade walkers will unfold and carry a 300-foot rainbow flag as a tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting on June 12.

Parade performances will include four marching bands and unnamed talent for this years Austin Pride Parade.  “I can’t tell you who it’s going to be,” smirked Huddleston, “they want it to be a surprise.”

For more information on Austin Pride download the Austin Pride app and make plans to attend everything you can this week as we celebrate diversity in Austiin, the greatest city! Share your comments below.  We enjoy hearing from you at!