PRIDE PREPARED

A Guide to the Houston LGBTQ+ Pride Festival and Parade

Here's a rundown on all things Pride, from what to wear to what to bring and what to leave at home.

By Daniel Renfrow

Here's everything you need to know before attending Houston's Pride Parade and Festival.

Pride Month is officially here, and there are plenty of ways for you to show off your pride this month, whether that’s through reading books by LBGTQ+ writers, attending lively Pride-focused parties and concerts, or simply living out loud every day this month. 

The biggest LBGTQ+ event happening in this month is the Pride LGBT+ Celebration, which will see hundreds of thousands of people descending on downtown Houston to celebrate all things queer through a truly massive festival and parade, the first of which was held in Houston way back in 1978. The festivities kick off this year at the Houston LGBT+ Pride Celebration Festival at Houston City Hall (901 Bagby) from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by the city’s famously lively parade at 7 p.m.

The festival and parade can be a bit overwhelming for first-timers, so we’ve put together a guide to help you know exactly what to expect, what to wear, and what to bring to the festival and parade ahead of your visit. Read below for our top tips. 

DO

Do Plan Ahead
Plan ahead by purchasing your tickets now. Although entry into the parade route is free for everyone and doesn’t require a ticket, you are required to purchase a ticket in order to attend the festival at Houston City Hall. Tickets to the festival, including VIP tickets, can be purchased here. General entry into the festival costs $5 and is free for children under the age of 12 and for seniors who are 60 and older. VIP tickets are $250 and include a slew of additional perks like an open bar, access to the main stage, cooling zones, grandstand parade viewing, catered food, and VIP swag bags. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the layout of the festival and the parade map ahead of attending so you can optimize your Pride Houston experience. 

Do Take Public Transit
The easiest way to get to the festival is to take public transport. Since downtown parking is expensive and can be hard to find, consider parking your car in a neighborhood like Montrose or the East End before taking the METRORail downtown. Consider ordering a METRO Q card online ahead of the festival, since the kiosks at stations can be quite finicky at times.

Do Take Care of Yourself
It’s going to be a hot one this year, so it is important for you to stay hydrated while you’re enjoying the parade and festival — and that doesn’t include just drinking booze. It’s also important to bring ample sunscreen with you, especially if you’re someone who burns easily, since there is the high likelihood that you’ll have only limited access to shaded areas. If you’re worried that sunscreen won’t be enough, you should also consider bringing an umbrella for shade. (It goes without saying that you’ll receive extra points if you choose an umbrella in a colorful print like a rainbow.) It’s also important to wear comfortable shoes — you’re going to be doing a lot of walking — and clothing. Wear clothing that shows off how comfortable you are in your own skin, but also consider clothing that you’re not going to want to rip off after a couple of hours in the sun and heat. And for good hygiene, bring hand sanitizer. 

Do Stay Hydrated
Yes, we mentioned it once already, but hydration really is a must. Empty, clear bottles are allowed onto festival grounds, where they can then be topped up with water at filling stations spread throughout the festival. 

Do Enjoy Family Time
Bring your family and friends, and get ready to celebrate Houston’s LGBTQ+ community. Pride is an opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime, and you’ll want to share those memories with the people in your life who are most important to you. If you’re bringing young children with you, you’re in luck, because the festival also includes a family fun zone at Tranquility Park that is perfect for all ages. The family-friendly zone will feature snow cones, face painting, hot dogs, popcorn, a story time, and more. 

DON’T

Don’t Bring Oversize Bags or Weapons
No large or oversize bags will be allowed on festival grounds, and security will be checking everyone’s bags before they enter the festival. Fanny packs and drawstring bags are your best option. If you’re bringing a backpack, make sure it is on the smaller side so you’re allowed entry with it. It also goes without saying that no weapons are allowed on the grounds of the festival. 

Don’t Bring Drugs
Although it might be tempting to light up at the festival, drugs and smoking are completely prohibited on festival grounds. 

Don’t Bring Pets to the Festival
Pets are unfortunately prohibited from festival grounds, so make sure you leave your pups at home. If you are bringing a pup with you, make sure it’s one of the human variety. You know, the kind that comes with a leather hood. 

Don’t Bring Outside Food & Drinks
Outside food and drinks are not allowed on festival grounds. There will be plenty of food and beverage vendors at the festival where you will be able to purchase food and beverages, so leave your snacks at home.

Don’t Bring Cash
Pride Houston is a cash-free zone, and no cash will be accepted for any purchases. All purchases at the festival can be made via credit card, Zelle, Venmo, Cash App, or PayPal. 

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