Everything You Need to Know About Seattle's Pride Parade

Seattle's Pride festival started small -- the inaugural event in 1974 culminated with just 50 or so people dancing around/in Seattle Center's International Fountain -- but has grown dramatically in the 45 years since it began, becoming one of the country's most popular LGBTQ+ events... at least according to some of the smartest drag queens we know, anyway.

The early events were explicit civil rights protests in defense of sexual freedom, and couldn't have come at a more crucial time. The city's first official pride festival took place in 1977 when the mayor endorsed what was then called Gay Pride Week, just one year after Seattle voters narrowly defeated a measure to strip LGBTQ+ people of equal housing/voting rights.

Since then Seattle Pride has never quite lost touch with its activist roots, even as it turned into a month of events and parties that ends with a parade through Downtown. A parade which draws in excess of 130,000 people and has become a joyous, rainbow-hued symbol of both inclusion and the start of summer.

Here's our guide to getting the most out of this literally spectacular event:

Where/when will the parade take place?

The parade will start at 11am on Sunday, June 30 at 4th & Pike near Westlake Park.

What is the parade route?

The parade lasts about four hours, and proceeds along 4th Avenue ending at 2nd Avenue and Denny Way near Seattle Center, where PrideFest will be having it's usual massive Sunday party.

What streets will be closed?

4th Avenue in Downtown will be closed from Denny Way, all the way through Downtown to the staging area at S Washington St. in Pioneer Square, as will a portion of Denny between 2nd and 4th. Pedestrian crossings at Denny Way will also be restricted to the east side of 4th Avenue.

What will the weather be like?

Probably pretty good. According to the experts you can expects partly cloudy skies and temperatures just below 80! There's also just a 10% chance of rain as we're writing this, which in Seattle pretty much means no chance.

Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic/Getty
Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic/Getty

What should I wear?

Literally wear anything you want. Or nothing at all. Just remember that no matter how wild you get, someone -- or more likely hundreds of someones -- will make your clothing choices seem tame. Given that, the one thing we definitely suggest is sunscreen. Oh, and glitter. Lots and lots of glitter.

Where are the best places to watch the Parade?

The sort answer is: wherever you can. The glib answer is: one of maybe a dozen corner units at the Fountain Court apartments in Belltown, or from a west facing condo on one of the lower floors at the Escala building closer to Downtown. Both of those options have balconies with unobstructed views of the parade route… and are also almost impossible to hook up, so you better come up with something else.

One option: Buy a ticket for one of the three grandstands set up along the route. Another good choice is to stake out a spot at one of the parade's three beer gardens -- it'll be crowded and uncomfortable, but hey so will the rest of the parade, and this way you'll have beer there.

For people with disabilities, there will be accessible seating areas at Westlake Park, near the 4th & Bell stage, and at the "L" corner at Denny Way.

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Bradley Foster is a former Thrillist editor who still regrets his decision not to bring sunscreen to the 2017 pride parade. Don't be like Brad.