RI PrideFest and Illuminated Night Parade named one of best celebrations in US. Here's why


In June 1969, the roots of Pride Month started to take hold.

The LGBTQ+ push for civil rights started at the protests at the now world-famous Stonewall Inn in New York's Greenwich Village neighborhood. The following year, activists held a march to commemorate this pivotal moment, known as Christopher Street Liberation Day (taken for the street on which Stonewall was located).

The event evolved into the current incarnation of Pride as groups around the country began to hold their own parades in honor of the Stonewall protests, eventually resulting in the creation of Pride Month in 1999 by President Bill Clinton.

As the nation gears up for Pride month 2024, U.S. News and World Report published a list of the across the country. Providence, along with several other major cities in the Northeast, was among the top ranked.

Why Rhode Island Pride was picked as a top event

People dance in the streets in downtown Providence on Saturday during PrideFest's Illuminated Night Parade.

The Rhode Island Pride celebration, which includes PrideFest and the Illuminated Night Parade, is on June 15 this year.

What U.S. News and World Report said: The city has "a small-town vibe and a vibrant arts community," according to writer Suzanne Mason. "During the day, you can enjoy more than 250 nonprofit vendors with live entertainment and plenty of food. The Rhode Pride Illuminated Night Parade is New England's only nighttime LGBTQ parade. Paradegoers can expect to see buildings and floats light up as participants make their way through downtown Providence after dusk."

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What to know about Rhode Island's PrideFest

PrideFest is one of the oldest annual LGBTQ+ celebrations in the country. The first was held in 1976 after a court ruling allowed local gay and lesbian communities to hold a march at all, which included about 75 people. Fast forward to the 48th annual Rhode Island PrideFest & Illuminated Night Parade, and that number has grown to 125,000-plus attendees.

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Providence will light up the night with the Illuminated Night Parade starting 8 p.m. on Dorrance Street. Leading up to the parade, attendees can enjoy the festival at District Park with a vendor exhibition of LGBTQ+ and ally-owned businesses, local artisans, and community organizations. From colorful merchandise to one-of-a-kind crafts, the vendor exhibition is an exciting marketplace and opportunity to support local creatives.