Everything You Need to Know About San Francisco’s Pride Celebration

Dykes on Bikes
Dykes on Bikes | Flickr/Thomas Hawk
Dykes on Bikes | Flickr/Thomas Hawk

How can people change their mind about us if they don’t know who we are? ~ Harvey Milk

The first Pride event in San Francisco was a “Gay-In” on June 27, 1970, exactly a year after the LGBT patrons of the Stonewall Inn in NYC’s Greenwich Village rioted in response to police harassment and arrests. Though it started small, San Francisco LGBT Pride has grown to be the largest gathering of LGBTQ+ people in the world with a mission to “educate the world, commemorate our heritage, celebrate our culture, and liberate our people.”   

Pride is celebrated for all of June in San Francisco, but the official celebration actually takes place on the last weekend of the month. That party includes a two-day festival and a parade on Sunday where over a million spectators line up along Market Street to watch 250+ contingents march through the heart of the city, led by the famous Dykes on Bikes who rev their engines and set the pace for the parade.

Though Pride is certainly a party; it’s a lot more than that, which this year’s theme “Generations of Resistance” hopefully illuminates. It’s a time to put the LGBTQ+ community in the spotlight and show our support, give people whose voices have been marginalized a chance to be heard (and help ensure their voices won’t ever be diminished or disparaged again), celebrate for those who live in places where they can’t, and remind people that there’s still more work to be done. Of course, we do this in the most fabulous way possible because this is San Francisco and that is simply who we are.

Want to join in on the festivities? Here’s everything you need to know about how to celebrate Pride in San Francisco:

city hall
Leighann Renee on Unsplash

When and where will the parade take place?

The Parade begins at 10:30am on Sunday, June 30 at the intersection of Market Street and Beale Street. The celebration and rally takes place at Civic Center Plaza on Saturday, June 29 from noon to 6pm and Sunday, June 30 from 11am to 6pm. Both events are free to the public, but cash donations are requested at the gates of the celebration.

What is the parade route?

The parade runs up Market Street and finishes at 8th Street by the Civic Center Station just two blocks from the rally and celebration at Civic Center Plaza.

How long is the parade?

The parade starts at 10:30am and goes until around 3pm.

Which streets will be closed for the parade?

The parade:

  • 7am to 3pm: Market Street between 8th and 9th Street
  • 9 am to 3pm: Market Street between 8th Street and Beale

All intersections on Market will be closed to cross traffic during the Parade.

The parade formation area:

The following streets will be closed from 6am to 7pm:

  • Beale Street, Main Street, Spear Street from Market Street to Folsom Street
  • Steuart Street from Market Street to Howard Street
  • Market Street from Beale Street  to Steuart Street

Note: Other streets will be closed for the celebration as well as other Pride events.

What’s the weather supposed to be like?

We’ve had June Gloom and record breaking temps this month, so it’s a little hard to predict what the weather will be like for the parade, but typically it’s in the mid-to-high ‘60s with a mix of sun and clouds. We hate to sound like your mom, but if you’re planning to celebrate into the afternoon and evening, you should probably bring a light jacket.

What should I wear?

Sunscreen. After that, it’s up to you. Wear as much or as little as you’d like. Wear bright colors, rainbows, leather, tutus, short shorts, tank tops, superhero costumes, glitter, wigs, pronoun pins, crazy hats, or an outfit made entirely of body paint. You’ll be happy if you wear shoes that can go the distance since you’re going to be on your feet all day (we know, we know: We sound like your mom again; it’s because we care!). Just remember: the point is to be yourself and feel comfortable.


Where are the best spots to watch the parade?

If you’re willing to pay $42.50, you can buy tickets for Grandstand Seating at the end of the parade route on the north end of Market Street between 7th and 8th Streets, but expect that to sell out quickly.

If you missed that boat or want to watch for free, plan to arrive early (like 6am or 7am early) and set up shop anywhere along the Market Street parade route if you want a good view of the floats. Spear, Steuart, Main, and Beale Streets are all a good spot if you want to be near the parade staging area. If you like your parade with a side of sleeping in, head to the Civic Center celebration where you’ll be able to see tons of people who participated in the parade still in costume.

Where should I party after?

The official Pride Celebration takes place at Civic Center Plaza from 11am to 6pm. That party will have 20 stages and gathering spaces, including a leather alley, homo hip-hop stage, country-western dance corral, queer youth space, and faerie freedom village. There will also be over 200 vendors selling art, food, and beverages, including beer, wine, and cocktails. The official VIP Party is close to selling out, but if you can snag a ticket, you’ll get to dance under City Hall’s Rotunda while enjoying live entertainment, beverages, and bites.

Of course, there’s lots of wild stuff to do following the Parade. Dance outside at iconic drag queen Juanita Moore’s famous rooftop party at Jones that benefits the GLBT Historical Society, head to The Stud from 2pm to 2am for 10 parties in 12 hours, go to the Mighty Real poolside Pride party at The Phoenix Hotel, or, if you’ve asked for Monday off, don’t miss one of the wildest parties of the weekend, Sanctuary’s Glow-in-the-Dark Closing Party at 1015 Folsom that goes until 8am on Monday.

San Francisco LGBT Pride
San Francisco LGBT Pride | Eric Wagner/flickr

Other Pride events (for you party animals out there)

While the Parade and Celebration are the biggest events of the weekend, there’s a lot of other fun and important stuff going on, so we highly recommend you make time to check some of it out.

Go to a Pride party at the California Academy of Sciences
Thursday, June 27
Golden Gate Park
Drag queen extraordinaire Heklina will be performing at this Pride-themed party that celebrates equality and self-expression and gives you a chance to explore the museum at night. There will be a Hella Gay Dance Party in the Coral Reef, a Studio 54-inspired party inside of the piazza, and cocktail stations throughout.
Cost: $19

See a movie at the SF International LGBTQ+ film festival
Thursday, June 20-Sunday, June 30
Various theaters in SF and the East Bay
Frameline is the world’s longest running and largest showcase of queer cinema and this year’s festival features 174 films, incuding 59 US premieres.
Cost: Regular screening tickets are $15

Go to the Trans March
Friday, June 28
Dolores Park
The Trans March is one of the largest trans events in the country and the mission is to inspire all trans and gender non-conforming people to realize a world where they are safe, loved, and empowered. It starts around 2pm with a resource fair, community stage with speakers and performers, and then a 45-minute walk at 6pm followed by a short program of speakers before everyone disperses for the after parties. (El Rio has a good one!)
Cost: Free

Go to the Dyke March
Saturday, June 29
Dolores Park
The mission of this march is to bring the dyke communities together to celebrate unity, raise consciousness, and be visible. There is a rally and performances from 11am to 4:30pm and then the march -- a loop from Dolores Park through the Castro and back -- takes place from 5pm to 6:30pm.
Cost: Free

Give back and have fun at a Pride benefit show
Saturday, June 29
“Sex Work is Gay: Pride Benefit Show” is a  live show with a go-go dancers, a comedy set by Reiko Rasch and music by Copyslut, #lafemmebear, Salami Rose Joe Louis, and others. All proceeds go to SF-based Homeless Youth Alliance.
Cost: $13 to $20

Volunteer to set up the Pink Triangle
Saturday, June 29-Sunday June 30
Twin Peaks
Every Pride weekend, volunteers install a Pink Triangle that is nearly an acre in size and can be seen for 20 miles atop Twin Peaks. It’s a symbol the commemorates the gay victims who were killed in Nazi concentration camps and serves as a reminder of the hatred and bigotry that still exists against LGTBQ+ people, as well as to appreciate where we are today. Installation takes place on Saturday from 7am to 10am with a commemoration ceremony at 10:30am and the de-installation happens from 4:30pm to 8pm after the parade. Even if you just have an hour to give, it will help.
Cost: Free

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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer who is reminded every Pride weekend why she’s so proud to call this city home. Follow her on Instagram @daisysf.