Brighton Pride cancelled for the second year in a row

A crowd of pride goers with a giant, long rainbow banner stretching through the crowd

Brighton Pride has been cancelled for a second year due to “the many uncertainties” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the vaccine rollout.

The heartbreaking news was announced on Wednesday morning (5 May), with organisers revealing that its in-person events – scheduled for the weekend of 7 and 8 August – will no longer be going ahead.

Brighton Pride organisers said the need for community “has never been stronger”, but admitted that it is not yet possible to stage a large-scale event due to the ongoing pandemic.

“Delivering Pride requires an all year-round planning cycle working closely with our partners agencies and, while the vaccine rollout continues to be successful, the many uncertainties that need to be resolved to safely deliver mass gatherings and the complexities of organising multiple Pride events across our city are impossible to achieve in the time we have,” organisers said in a statement.

The team said they cannot justify putting the health and safety of Pride attendees, as well as staff, volunteers and Brighton residents, at risk by staging the festival as normal.

Paul Kemp, director of Brighton Pride, said the entire committee was “devastated” at having to cancel the festival, and acknowledged the news will have a “huge impact” on local business, charities and community groups.

“Pride attracts tens of thousands of people to our city for the LGBTQ+ community parade which is the heart of the Pride celebrations, where social distancing clearly can’t be facilitated safely,” Kemp said.

“Our planing has also identified significant supply chain challenges including infrastructure, security and staffing making it impossible to deliver a safe event with any certainty.”

He added: “Community fundraising has always been our main objective for Pride, but without the safety net of viable COVID cancellation insurance, we cannot jeopardise our ability to deliver a sustainable fundraising Pride in future years.”

Kemp closed out his statement by promising to bring Brighton Pride back in 2022, and said organisers will strive to make it “better than ever.”

Nick Hibberd, Brighton and Hove City Council’s executive director for economy, environment and culture, said he was “very sorry” that Brighton Pride had been cancelled once again.

“We’ve been in regular discussion with Pride through the city’s multi-agency safety advisory group and, even with restrictions starting to ease, it’s clear managing large events safely remains a huge challenge.”

Hibberd said the priority remains “keeping everyone safe and COVID rates low”.

“We will continue working with Pride to support the smaller events arranged this year and help manage a safe city over the traditional Pride weekend at the beginning of August,” he added.

There are ‘still too many unknowns’ surrounding COVID-19 for Brighton Pride to go ahead

Meanwhile, Chris Gull, chair of The Brighton Rainbow Fund – which distributes funds to LGBT+ projects in the region – hit out at the UK government for failing to introduce a COVID insurance scheme for festivals.

Gull said that, without the security of such a scheme, many festivals will have no choice but to cancel their events.

He also said there are “still too many unknowns” surrounding how the coronavirus pandemic is likely to progress.

“Decisions and spending commitments have to be made now. Nobody can be certain, for instance, that a variant that is resistant to the current vaccines won’t emerge and that a further lockdown won’t result,” he said.

Brighton Pride promised it will organise “smaller in-person” events throughout late summer and autumn, and it also committed to implementing “an exciting programme of online events”.

Ticket-holders have been given three options – they can either allow their tickets to roll over to next year, they can choose to donate the value of their ticket to The Brighton Rainbow Fund, or they can apply for a full refund.

The cancellation will come as a significant blow to members of the LGBT+ community in the UK after all Pride festivals were cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There was some hope that Pride marches would go ahead once more in 2021 as vaccines arrived in the UK – however, the announcement from Brighton Pride makes it clear that there are still many uncertainties surrounding the return of large-scale events post-COVID.

As of now, other festivals, including Manchester and Birmingham Prides, are still scheduled to go ahead as planned.