Pride and Lancashire Encounter bring in visitors to city centre

Preston Pride 2015 on the Flag Market
Preston Pride 2015 on the Flag Market
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Preston’s Flag Market was today taken over by rainbow flags, sand pits, dogs in pink tutus and two giant huge red canopies.

Lancashire Encounter - a new event aimed at celebrating the city’s creative talents - started on Friday and runs all weekend.

Preston Pride 2015 on the Flag Market

Preston Pride 2015 on the Flag Market

As part of it, dozens of stalls have been taken over by groups, societies and services, and a packed programme of performances is lined up.

Running alongside the event is Preston Pride, a celebration and awareness event for the city’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Debs Bradshaw, co-festival director for Preston Pride, said: “This year is amazing. We thought we might be overshadowed by being part of Lancashire Encounter, but we’re not at all.

“We work with many of these organisations ourselves, and they’ve given us great support.

“It’s all about visibility and raising awareness, keeping the LGBT community on the map.

“This year we’ve managed to get Black Lace as our headline act and Ella Shaw from Britain’s Got Talent, so we’re hoping for an even bigger turnout.”

Organisers have installed a large sandpit on the Flag Market and are encouraging a party atmosphere, as part of a holiday theme.

“A political protest still underpins what we do,” said Debs.

“So we wanted to use this opportunity to highlight that there’s still many places where being gay means the death penalty or imprisonment. There’s still work to be done.”

Steve Rowland from Lancashire County Council’s Wellbeing, Prevention and Early Help service, said: “This is a great event for everybody of all ages and is really working well to bring Preston’s diverse communities together.”

• For lots more photos, see Monday’s paper.