Manchester Pride under fire after ticket prices double

Manchester Pride

Manchester Pride organisers are facing heavy criticism after more than doubling the price of tickets to the weekend festival—despite no line-up being announced—as the event is moved from its iconic Canal Street site.

Pre-sale tickets to access Pride festivities, including a music festival and events in the Gay Village, were released on Thursday morning, increasing the price for the four-day event in August 2019 from £28 to £70.95. General sale tickets for the event will be released at 6pm on Thursday (January 31).

According to organisers, the £70.95 “Rainbow Pass” will give the “full Manchester Pride Festival experience featuring a line-up of international entertainment,” as well as unlimited access to the Gay Village Gathering, which runs from August 23 to 26 2019.

Manchester Pride ramps up ticket prices after moving sites

It comes after Manchester Pride announced in August last year that it has been forced to relocate the 2019 Manchester Pride Live music festival, formerly known as The Big Weekend, to Mayfield in the city centre.

At the time, organisers blamed “significant property development” decreasing the available space in Canal Street’s historic Gay Village.

Manchester's Pride's Rainbow Pass

Manchester Pride’s “Rainbow Pass” has gone on sale for £70.95. (Courtesy of Olivia Malone/Ticketmaster)

Olivia Malone, a 21-year-old student in Manchester, told PinkNews that she and her friends would no longer be able to afford to attend all the Manchester Pride festivities across the weekend.

“It’s not just increased by a few pound, it’s more than doubled,” said Malone, who has bought tickets for Manchester Pride’s festival twice before.

“I definitely think that it will prevent a lot of people being able to go, as last year I went with my friends—all of us are students— so with ticket prices like that we definitely won’t be able to afford to go, and the majority of the pride audience are younger people.”

I can’t afford tickets to Manchester Pride this year, says student

Malone added that going to Manchester Pride is already “expensive as it is, with transport to and from, and then you’ve got your drinks and food on top of that.”

Manchester Pride’s ticket prices are more than other 2019 Pride events in the UK, such as Pride in London, which is free, and Brighton Pride, where second release tickets for the two-day festival are currently just over £50, with the sold-out early bird prices starting at £37.50 for the weekend.

The line-up for Manchester Pride Live has yet to be announced. Last year, acts at The Big Weekend included Rita Ora, Jake Shears and Alexandra Burke.

Social media users expressed anger with the price hike for the 2019 festival.

“I definitely think that it will prevent a lot of people being able to go, as last year I went with my friends—all of us are students— so with ticket prices like that we definitely won’t be able to afford to go.”

—Student Olivia Malone

Josh Willacy, an equality, diversity and inclusion trainer, who is also an LGBT+ activist, posted on Twitter that the ticket price increase disproportionately affects LGBT+ people of colour, despite Manchester Pride recently adopting Philadelphia’s more inclusive rainbow flag with brown and black stripes.

“Even with those black and brown stripes, at this new price point manchester pride is going to be whiter than ever don’t @ me,” wrote Willacy.

A twitter user criticises Manchester Pride

Twitter users criticised Manchester Pride for increasing ticket prices. (joshwillacy/Twitter)

Although Manchester Pride Live and the Gay Village Gathering are ticketed at Manchester Pride, the city centre parade on August 24 is free to attend.

A pre-sale day ticket for Manchester Pride Live and the Gay Village Gathering costs £37.95, while a prices for the Gay Village Gathering alone are set at £16.50 and  £11 for the full event or one day respectively.

LGBT+ beer company PROUD, meanwhile, is giving away two free tickets to Manchester Pride in response to the increase in price.

“Manchester is my home town. I would never have been able to go for the first time, and feel like I truly belonged, if I had to pay £70.” Ethan Spibey, co-founder of PROUD, told PinkNews.

“We just wanted to make sure someone else can have that experience, which is why we’re giving away two free tickets on our social media channels.”

After publication, a spokesperson for Manchester Pride supplied PinkNews with a different price list that cites the weekend Rainbow Pass as costing £64.50—which appears to exclude booking fees charged by Ticketmaster.

Mark Fletcher, Chief Exec for Manchester Pride, told PinkNews: “It’s always a talking point when we introduce change to our events and this year we have essentially added a whole new event to our programme in direct response to the requests of our ticket buyers.

“At Manchester Pride Live, a whole new ticketed event for the festival, we’re presenting the biggest line up of artists we’ve ever had, for less than the price of a single concert ticket.

He added: “At The Gay Village Gathering we’ve worked hard to retain our festival hub in the area, providing a community pride celebration with all of the safety infrastructure that our audience has come to expect from us and a programme of great events and entertainment from as little as a tenner.

“This is actually much less than access to the village has cost previously. Plus as before a limited number of hardship tickets will be made available for those facing financial hardship.

“The new format for the festival and the ticket options are proving popular. We’ve seen record figures for our pre-registered ticket buyers already and tickets only went on sale this morning!

“I’m really excited for us to announce our full festival line up, we’ve got some very special shows planned at Manchester Pride Live and I’d encourage people to grab our early release tickets quickly as we anticipate the event will sell out.”

Why Manchester Pride is moving

Manchester Pride’s chief executive Mark Fletcher previously told PinkNews that the Pride festival had to be moved away from Canal Street because of property development in the Gay Village.

“A number of reasons have led to our making this decision for 2019, in order to avoid disappointing our audience in the future,” said Fletcher.

“There has been speculation about the developments in the Portland Street and gay village area for some time. A number of developments are now underway in spaces that were previously used for event infrastructure.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to plan and deliver The Big Weekend in a space that is decreasing in size.”