Parade and festival viewing tips

Thousands are expected to descend on Chicago's Uptown and Lakeview neighborhoods Sunday, June 30, 2019 for the 50th annual Chicago Pride Parade, a culmination of the city's Pride Month festivities.

Planning to attend? Here's everything you need to know.

Route and Time

The parade starts at 12 Noon at the corner of Broadway and Montrose. The parade featuring 150 colorful entries will then travel the 21-block parade route south on Broadway; then south on Halsted; then east on Belmont; then south on Broadway;
then east on Diversey to Cannon Drive.

There will be nine cross-over streets along the parade route: Montrose at Broadway; Irving Park Rd. at Broadway; Grace at Broadway; Addison at Halsted; Cornelia at Halsted; Roscoe at Halsted; Aldine at Halsted; Barry Ave. at Broadway; and Wellington Ave. at Broadway. 

Alcohol and Security

Security will be tight again this year. Open container rules will continue to be strictly enforced, with 170 private security workers patrolling the parade and police on every corner. Penalties include, but are not limited to, $1000+ tickets being issued, and you could have to throw out your booze.

Street Closures

Some street closures will begin as early as 8 a.m. and parade route closures begin as early as 9:30 a.m., or as the crowd intensifies. The closures include Montrose, Irving Park and Wellington at Broadway and Addison, Grace and Roscoe at Halsted. Streets are expected to fully reopen by 8 p.m.

Transportation

Public transportation is highly recommended. Chicago's bus and train/rail system, the Chicago Transit Auhority (CTA) will be providing extra service and longer trains on the 'L', and several buses will be re-routed on parade day. Bicycles will not be permitted on CTA trains for most of the day, and strollers and carts must be folded before boarding all CTA buses and trains. Check the  CTA's website  for additional information.

The closest L stops are Wilson, Sheridan, Addison or Belmont on the Red Line and Southport, Belmont, Wellington, or Diversey on the Brown Line. Bus lines are 8, 22, 36, 80, or 152. The Belmont and Addison stations (and the surrounding area) tend to become the most crowded, so you are encouraged to consider watching the parade from the other parts of the route, including areas toward the start of the route—such as Broadway, south of Montrose—which are served by both the nearby Wilson and Sheridan stations on the Red Line.

Metra will provide extra trains on the BNSF, UP North, UP Northwest and UP West Lines. Other lines that operate on Sundays will offer extra seating capacity. To view the schedules, click here 

Parking

There won't be much street parking available near the assembly or parade routes, so if you're driving be prepared to park outside of the immediate area. Watch for temporary no parking signs.

Weather

The parade goes on, rain or shine. Bring plenty of bottled water and sunscreen. Cooling busses will be available at Halsted, south of Belmont; Addison, west of Halsted; Belmont, east of Broadway; Wilton, north of Belmont; Buena, west of Broadway.

Emergency Assistance

If you need first aid, the Chicago Fire Department has first aid stations at 901 W. Addison St., 765 W. Roscoe St., 3165 N. Halsted St., 561 W. Surf St. and 802 W. Roscoe St. There will also be a public safety command center on Belmont Avenue between
Clark and Halsted.

Bathrooms

Portable restrooms will be stationed along both the parade line-up street and the parade route. 

Accessibility

For seniors or those who need wheelchair accessible sites, head near 600 W. Diversey. It's towards the end of the parade route and typically is less crowded than other streets. Many arrive early to set up chairs and claim their spots. This area also has accessible bathrooms.

History

The parades commemorate the Stonewall rebellion that took place on June 28, 1969 when patrons of a New York City gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, fought back during a raid by police. At that time gay bars were frequently raided across the country. That night, bar patrons fought back and street demonstrations continued for several days. During that week gay liberation groups were formed, thus giving birth to the modern day LGBT rights movement. Pride Parades are staged in over 150 cities worldwide with more than 90 of them in the United States and at least 12 taking place on the last weekend of June each year. The annual Chicago Pride Parade is coordinated by PRIDEChicago.

Pride Tips from Locals

Dining

I enjoy watching the parade while I sat in some prime realty. Like a great restaurant with a martini in one hand and a waiting fork in the other. There are many fine restaurants on the route, but get there early!
Andy Farriester, Restaurant Review/Editor

With half a million people expected to visit Boystown over Pride weekend, they will all be looking to enjoy the great food we have here. Head to the ChicagoPride.com dining channel and make some reservations early!
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, GoPride

Brunch is to Boystown as Gay is to Gaga! Some of the gayberhood brunch spots, like Angelina Ristorante, Nookie’s Tree and Jack’s on Halsted offer brunch on Saturday as well as Sunday.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, GoPride

Sunday brunch may be a bit tricky (No pun intended) as the Pride Parade begins at 12:00 p.m. Most popular spots will have a “Pride Package” that day: Divalicious Brunch at Kit Kat Lounge, DS Tequila, and Scarlet’s Liquid Brunch just to name a few.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, GoPride

You might consider heading north just a bit and enjoy dining in the LGBT community of Andersonville! Hamburger Mary’s has some of the tastiest treats ever invented; like the Mary Tyler Smore! Ann Sather boasts some hearty breakfast fare; including one huge cinnamon roll. (There is also an Ann Sather in Boystown; owned by the first openly gay Alderman, Tom Tunney)
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Getting rest

Who is going to sleep Pride Weekend? Seriously though, rooms are hard to come by here in this neighborhood because of the general lack thereof. My best advice is to take advantage of the travel agent info on the net or on our list here.
Brian D.

Eat before you leave for the festivities and get plenty of rest. Long days in the sun can take a toll on your body. Proper nutrition and a good night's sleep will give you the energy to chase floats all day.
Ms. Daisy Mae, BOI Magazine

Meeting People

Out of towners should figure out a way to advertise they're from out of town...increases trick potential.
David H.

Don't be shy! This is the one day a year where gay people can be themselves and not have to worry about what other people think of them... Be yourself, say hello! Plus, Hit on the photographers, then they are bound to take your picture! Ha ha!
Ryan Kolodziej, "Weekend Snaps" Photographer

Use common sense. And be a good Samaritan, after all it is pride, what a better reason to be kind to your brothers and sisters.
Ms. Daisy Mae

Parade

It's a long, hot day so it's not the time to try new drinks; stick to what you know and can handle. Pace yourself with some water. Save your voice to cheer for the best float in the Parade this year- the ChicagoPride float.
Andrew Reuland, "Drink to Life" Columnist

Try and get there early and sit/stand in front and don't let ANYONE get in your way! We all know how high those drag queen's wigs can get! Knowing a friend with a Parade-view apartment is a plus, but not a must.
Ryan Kolodziej, "Weekend Snaps" Photographer

With all the attendees and sunshine, one can dry out quickly. Often times the heat exhaustion and dehydration interrupt the fun. Most bars/restaurants will provide bottle water in addition to adult beverages (Starting at 11:00am)
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Just because the parade ends doesn’t mean pride festivities do. Again, plan ahead and check out all the events taking place around the city. Chicago is very friendly to the LGBT community. I’m a fan of the quick disco nap and then heading out and about for the evening refreshed. You’ll be able to play well into the early morning.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

As much fun as Pride can be, we ought not to forget why we celebrate it! Many individuals have fought for our rights to equality. As corny as it sounds, it is those make a difference people we should be proud for. It is equality we should be celebrating. We may have more to achieve, but we can all agree; we’ve come a long way in our community!
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

The parade is the culmination of the weekend stepping off at Belmont and Halsted Sunday afternoon. I recommend finding a spot near the beginning of the route, if you can, so you can see the entire parade and then be one of the first at the post-parade festivities in Lincoln Park. Also, bring plenty of sunscreen…Chicago summers are notoriously hot and you will look like a lobster if you don’t!
Brian D.

Unfortunately, the parade route does attract some people who are out for more than a good time. When you walk the streets, don't bring your wallet. Take the cash you need and some sort of identification and put them in a pocket that no-one can slip their hand into. Don't wear expensive jewelry. Basically, don't take anything with you that you would have a hard time replacing if it gets lost.
Jeff G.

Toilets

Clean bathrooms are a difficult thing to find during Parade day. Every business closes their facilities to everyone but paying customers. If your hotel is far from the action, take care of the more important business before you hit the streets. If you need to, plan on buying lunch or dinner and using the restaurant's bathroom before you pay the check! There are "port a lets" scattered throughout the city. However, they have long lines and can be quite an experience.
Mike S.

No matter how "bad" you have to go, do not urinate in the streets. This is a fine way to end up in lock up. Besides, it's not polite. Listen to your body. Get in line before you really have to go. By the time your crossing your legs, you might be at the front of the line.
Jim C.

Parking

My best tip is not to drive at all. Take a taxi or use our wonderful public transit system. If you must drive try parking in the neighborhoods west of Wrigley Field. Just remember where you left the car!
Brian D.

Don't drive! The neighborhood's bad enough on a regular day; during a weekend when 400,000 gay boys and girls and spectators come to Lakeview, a car will only make your trip a pain.
David Bohn, Fitness Editor

Parking Passes

We recommend booking convenient and affordable parking in advance through SpotHero, the nation's leading parking reservation app. To reserve your parking spot, visit the parking page for the Pride Festival (6/16-17) or the Pride Parade (6/24) and book your parking passes now.

Parties

The bars are insane; stick to the house parties if you don't like lines or crowds
Andrew Reuland, "Drink to Life" Columnist

I found Hydrate to be a lot of fun after the parade.
Derek, "On the Circuit" Photographer

While you’re in Andersonville you should make it a point to enjoy some of the diverse night life. Mary’s Attic, housed on top of Hamburger Mary’s is always a popular destination. @mosphere has some of the hottest dancers in Chicago! The Sofo Tap is a fun neighborhood spot and Big Chicks is a must see! Just a bit further north and you’ll find Jackhammer and Parlour.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Boystown nightlife boasts more than twenty plus bars for your boy/girl watching pleasure. Ones that should be noted are Little Jim’s, Boystown’s oldest bar celebrating 37 years. If you like to dance, drink, sing, or swagger; there is a place for you in Boystown!
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Pride Fest

Pay careful attention to the hours of Pride Fest Chicago! Given that there are so many things to see and 
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Weather

Don't bring any clothes you don't want to sweat in.
David H.

Pride weekend is usually pretty awesome. A few years ago it looked like we were going to have our first rained-out parade, but then 30 minutes before the parade, the rain stopped and the clouds vanished. It was a great day indeed.
David Bohn, Fitness Editor

Wear sun block, I prefer something in a 100 proof, the fairer your skin the more sun block you will need. Carry a water bottle with you. Dehydration can be a problem going to and from our destinations and especially if we are consuming alcohol, I know it is a liquid, but nothing quenches better than water.
Ms. Daisy Mae

What to wear

The morning of the parade, cars are not allowed on the main parade route streets. So, plan on doing a lot of walking. Comfortable shoes are a must for the serious Pride day reveler.
Jeff G.

Public nudity is not allowed and the obscenity laws are still on the books. You need to use your better judgement on this stuff. It is possible to get into trouble by showing too much!
Mark F.