We are about to enter the region’s festival and event season, celebrating our culture and demonstrating our pride with friends and family. As locals, we are participants, volunteers and also hosts to visitors who travel here to join us for Pride. If you are thinking about supporting another city’s Pride this summer, here are three gay best bets for your travel dollar.
The not-to-miss Pride event outside Philadelphia is Manchester Pride 2010. Home of the original “Queer As Folk” series, the festival along scenic Canal Street is memorable and fun. Plan your trip for “The Big Weekend” — Aug. 26-30 — for 78 hours of live music, celebrity performances, a Pride parade, lifestyle expo, special events and lots of people. Don’t leave early! The closing event is the HIV Candlelit Vigil in Sackville Park, a deeply moving, spiritual ceremony that brings revelers together. The city has plenty of culture, a gay-history walking tour and fine dining. And, for all you “AbFab” and shopping fans, don’t miss the Bellini Brunch at Harvey Nichols. Fabulous, sweetie.
Insider tips: Get the Platinum Pass, which includes credentialed access to the VIP Tent at the main stage with free drinks (it rains a lot in Manchester) and stay at the Malmaison Hotel or the City Inn Manchester — both within walking distance of Canal Street. A current search of round-trip airfares for late August shows an average of $1,000 from Philadelphia on US Airways or American Airlines. For more information, visit Manchester.com and Manchesterpride.com.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Being openly gay or lesbian in the Middle East is always reason to celebrate, so travel any time to Israel. US Airways offers a nonstop (but very long) flight to Tel Aviv from Philadelphia. The local LGBT community is active, visible and welcoming. Don’t let Tel Aviv’s warm Mediterranean Sea or the incredible food and amazing beauty distract you from the history and culture in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa and the Judean desert along the shores of the Dead Sea.
Insider tips: Plan your travel carefully. Thursday and Friday nights are the big party nights in Tel Aviv. The Art Plus Hotel offers complimentary breakfast and evening cocktails; also check out the brand-new Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem, with incredible views of the Old City. Be sure to plan a trip with a reputable tour company, such as Kenes Tours. In a recent search around the dates of Tel Aviv Gay Pride in early June, roundtrip airfare ran about $1,200 on US Airways.
Get out your cowboy boots and head south for the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sept. 19. This year’s theme is “One Heart, One World, One Pride.” The weekend includes Gay Days at Six Flags, special events and parties for men and women, a parade with more than 100 expected entries and the closing Festival in Lee Park.
Insider tips: The Warwick Melrose Hotel is along the route with the best viewing areas and is close to all the nightlife activities. You can get a great map to the gay bars at www.dallastavernguild.org.
Jeff Guaracino is a vice president for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.” He tracks down the best deals and travel resources for the LGBT community. If you’re traveling locally, check out visitphilly.com.