Everything You Need to Know About Boston's Pride Parade This Weekend

Boston Globe/Getty Images
From the Dyke March to the Pride Youth Dance, there’s a party for every audience. | Boston Globe/Getty Images
From the Dyke March to the Pride Youth Dance, there’s a party for every audience. | Boston Globe/Getty Images

This weekend marks the culmination of the epic celebration that is Pride Week 2019. Boston is an undeniable forebear of the gay pride movement, with its first Pride Parade dating back to 1971. Fast-forward 48 years, and this year’s parade -- themed “Looking Back, Loving Forward” -- will pay homage to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

From the Dyke March to the Pride Youth Dance, there’s a party for every audience. Check out the complete calendar of all the events, but absolutely make time for the weekend’s signature event, the Pride Parade, which attracts many thousands of spectators and includes hundreds of floats, local businesses, boa’ed politicians, and activist groups.

The parade and other weekend activities are organized by Boston Pride, a non-profit that “produces events and activities to achieve inclusivity, equality, respect, and awareness in Greater Boston and beyond.” Why this year’s theme? Explained acting president Linda DeMarco, “‘Looking Back, Loving Forward’ acknowledges the people and Pride groups who have come before us who have helped us strengthen our community. The fight for our rights must continue as well as fighting for our ability to love ourselves and each other freely without fear of hate or persecution.”

Where and when will the Pride Parade take place?

The annual Pride Parade starts at noon on Saturday, June 8, kicking off in Copley Square and moving through the Back Bay, South End, Bay Village, Beacon Hill, and Downtown Crossing before ending up at City Hall Plaza.

The Pride Festival also takes place on Saturday from 11am to 6pm at City Hall Plaza, which is where the Pride Concert will take place from noon to 6pm as well. The night wraps up with the Youth Dance, from 7 to 11pm in the plaza (tickets are $10 each). Competing block parties take place in Jamaica Plain and the Back Bay the following day, on Sunday, June 9.

Boston Parade
Boston Parade

What is the Pride Parade route?

The parade starts down Clarendon Street, takes a brief left onto Tremont Street, then another left onto Berkeley Street, before taking a right on Boylston Street, a left onto Charles Street, a right onto Beacon Street, then a final left onto Tremont again before ending up at City Hall Plaza. Along the route will be Stonewall 50 banners commemorating historic locations (some still in existence, some not) where local activists fought for equality and inclusion.

For those needing handicap accessible viewing, there will be a specially designated area near the entrance to the Pride Festival on the last segment of the Parade route. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis; email to reserve a seat.

How do I get there?

Not by driving, if you’re smart -- traffic will be hell, and parking practically nonexistent. For the start of the parade, take the Green Line to Copley Square; at the end of the Parade, you’ll be nearest to the Green Line Government Center stop. And because Boston public transport is a finicky beast, be sure to check MBTA schedules and service updates at the MBTA site and on Twitter.

If you prefer to stay green and avoid public transportation altogether, community bike-sharing and bike rental services are also available. Conversely, if you insist on four-wheeling it you can book a parking place using SpotHero (some savvy locals will be making big bucks by renting out their private spaces).

 Scott Eisen/Getty Image News
This weekend marks the culmination of the epic celebration that is Pride Week 2019. | Scott Eisen/Getty Image News

What should I wear for the weather?

Right now, temperatures are looking fairly mild: mid-70s, with a chance of showers in the morning and then partly cloudy in the afternoon. That said, Pride Parade sunburns are as much a tradition as the parade itself (boas do NOT block UV rays), so be sure to wear sunblock and to carry a water bottle. Comfy footwear is a must as well, what with all the standing around and/or running after Elizabeth Warren to get a selfie.

In the evening, the temps get down as low as 60, so plan on having a light jacket on hand for all the after-parties. The sun sets around 8:18pm.

What is the Pride Festival and Concert?

The festival is where you can park the little ones, with a Family Fun Zone, local food vendors, and live entertainment. The Pride Concert is an all-ages show featuring “American Idol” contestant Todrick Hall, Robin S., and Beth Sacks. This year’s host is local “rising drag superstar” Amanda Playwith.

Where can I keep the party going afterward?

Granted, getting wild on a Sunday night is something your Monday-morning self will probably hate you for -- but if you can’t rage after Pride, when can you? If you’re looking for the after-party, you’ll likely find it at one of Boston’s best LGBTQ bars (which we’ve outlined in their own separate guide), including spots like Cathedral Station, DBar, and Club Cafe.

What can I do if I want to get more involved?

Before: You can donate at any time to Boston Pride, as well as purchase their swag, from T-shirts to flags to shopping bags.

During: Boston Pride is an all-volunteer, grassroots organization, so donating your own time is much appreciated. The org is still in need of volunteers for many of the weekend events, including the Parade, Festival, the Youth Dance, the Concert, and the Block Parties happening the following day. You can learn more about all the specific volunteer opportunities here.

If you’re posting on social media (and let’s face it, you probably are), use the hashtags #BostonPride and #Pride2019.

After: 2020 will be here before you know it, so register to vote if you haven’t already, then get involved in other voter registration drives. You can also attend any of the planning meetings for next year’s events and sign up for Boston Pride’s newsletter to learn about volunteering opportunities, year-round events, and more. Interested in joining Boston Pride’s Board of Directors? Take a gander at the application, then call the PrideLine at 617-262-9405 with any questions.

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Meaghan Agnew is a Thrillist contributor. See how black her thumb really is by following her on ​​​​​Twitter and Instagram.