One of the earliest major gay pride events in the country, Phoenix Pride takes place the weekend of April 5 and 6, 2014 - perfect timing, given the mild, sunny weather of central Arizona at this time of year.
The city's Pride event has become a major draw in recent years, especially as it draws participants and spectators from throughout the fast-growing metro area, including Scottsdale, Mesa, and Glendale, not to mention quite a few LGBT folks from Tucson (which has its own stellar Pride in the Desert parade and celebration in October). About 25,000 people attended Pride last year. Phoenix is also abuzz these days with a rejuvenated downtown that includes a beautiful, efficient light rail service (it runs all the way from northwest Phoenix through downtown and on into Tempe and Mesa) and a number of new or newly renovated restaurants, hotels, and gay bars and nightclubs.
First, although the main events takes place Pride weekend, organizers also present the 10 Days of Pride, a series of gatherings and parties that lead up to Pride weekend, beginning a week before. These include a film festival, the Echo Magazine Reader's Choice Awards, Phoenix Art Museum soiree, and several other prominent events.
Note that this year's Phoenix Pride official host hotel is the swanky Hotel Palomar Phoenix, which is in downtown's hip CityScape dining and retail complex. The Palomar is offering a special Pride rate - you can book here. There's usually at least one event held at the Palomar's beautiful rooftop bar, Lustre, which has some of the best views in the city of the downtown skyline. And the hotel's stellar restaurant, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, will be a hot spot all weekend long.
Phoenix Pride weekend kicks off on Saturday, at 10 am with a Pride Parade, commencing at the Pride grounds in Steele Indian School Park 11 am along (3rd Street from Indian School Road south to Thomas Road If you're arriving by light rail, you're best bets are the Thomas Road or Indian School Road stops along Central Avenue.
Over both Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7, from noon until 9 pm, the Phoenix Pride Festival takes place in Steele Indian School Park and includes a Pride Marketplace with some 250 businesses and organizations exhibiting; an art expo, a wedding expo, food vendors, a kids play area, and several stages providing live music and entertainment throughout the day and evening.
There will be a number of acclaimed performers (last year they included Karmin, the Veronicas, Girl in a Coma, Wynter Gordon, Sarah Peacock, Eric Himan, and more) at Phoenix Pride performing on several different stages: Festival Stage (with the main headlining acts), Community Stage (local speakers, youth performers, and community members), Pride Dance Pavilion (think club tunes), Bistro Stage (a bit mellower on the music - jazz and acoustic), and Pride Metro Stage (a mix of music styles provided by local DJs). You can buy tickets online or, for a bit more, at the gate.
The many gay bars in Phoenix and Scottsdale as well as gay-popular restaurants, hotels, and shops have special events and parties throughout Pride Week. Check local gay papers, such as Echo Magazine for details, as well as the handy AZ Gay Pride Guide, GoGayArizona.com. Also take a look at the excellent GLBT site produced by the city's official tourism organization, the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Also note that Phoenix hosts a big LGBT event in early October, the Rainbows Festival Street Fair, which takes place in downtown Phoenix's historic Heritage Square Park. The dates in 2014 are likely to be October 18 and 19 (based on last year's dates), but check to confirm.