Gay pride festival in Norwich this July

Shaun LowthorpeA weekend festival to promote and celebrate gay pride is to be held in Norwich in July.Shaun Lowthorpe

A weekend festival to promote and celebrate gay pride is to be held in Norwich in July.

The Norwich Pride event will the first of its kind in the city, but will follow similar celebrations in other parts of the country including Brighton, Hull and Oxford and most famously London.

The weekend, which starts on July 25, will include talks, music and film events to raise awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) issues and the highlight will include a parade from Chapelfield Gardens to the Forum.

Organisers have secured financial support from trade unions, and advice from Norwich City Council about how to co-ordinate the weekend which will include events at venues including the Catherine Wheel pub, The Castle, and the Horse and Dray.

A multi-faith service will also be held at St Peter Mancroft Church.

This month two fundraising nights will also be held including a camp it up cabaret at Norwich Arts Centre.

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A Norwich Pride group has also been set up on the social networking website Facebook attracting nearly 800 members including Lord Mayor of Norwich Jeremy Hooke who will be one of the guest speakers at the parade.

Other speakers will include city MP Ian Gibson, Green party group leader Adrian Ramsay, and a representative from the charity Stonewall.

Nick O'Brien chairman of Norwich Pride, said the idea was first mooted at the end of last year and very quickly gained support.

'It's a celebration of LGBT life, we are going to use music, sport, history and arts and entertainment to raise awareness,' he said.

Mr Hooke said he was looking forward to the event.

'I think it's a great idea,' he said. 'It allows everybody to see that we can all be ourselves, which can only be a good thing. Visitors to the city will also see that people are out and they are proud.'