Chicago Pride Week officially kicks off with Pride Fest, opening this morning

Sat. June 22, 2013 7:40 AM by Matt Simonette

miss foozie hosts chicago pride fest stage, 2011

photo credit // anthony meade

Chicago's Pride Fest weekend offers something for everyone

Chicago, IL - Chicago's all-new Pride Week is set to kick into high gear this morning as organizers of Chicago Pride Fest launch their event, for the first time, a week before the Pride parade. The event opens at 11 a.m. and runs through Sun., June 23 in Boystown.

Pride Fest had traditionally been a prelude to the parade, which is scheduled for June 30. Organizers believe the change will help alleviate congestion in Lakeview during June by allowing a Pride Week instead of weekend. Last year's Pride Parade drew over 850,000 people to the neighborhood.

About 50,000 visitors come to Pride Fest each year. Organizers hope that the new scheduling will pull in even more, said Sean Kotwa, Hydrate general manager and co-chair of the Northalsted Business Alliance organizing committee.

"We really wanted to create a high caliber, world-renowned event that Chicago can be proud of, which we're not able to do given only a day and half event that is followed by Chicago's Pride Parade," Kotwa told "This also offers us an opportunity to create a week long celebration of the GLBT community here in Chicago for a longer time period than just one weekend."

According to Kotwa, having a Pride Week bookended by the festival and the parade will not only draw more visitors to Chicago, but bring attention to the best aspects of both events.

"The parade serves as a platform for the community to both highlight our accomplishments as well as show the support from the various participants in the parade," Kotwa said. "I think it serves as a reminder for the accomplishments of those generations before us--it's important for that aspect to not be forgotten and we continue using the parade as a vehicle for change and equality. But Pride Fest serves as an outright celebration of those accomplishments."

The two-day street fest features 2 entertainment stages, plus a dance music stage with some of Chicago's favorite DJs. Among the acts appearing at the festival are Aubrey O'Day of Danity Kane, Jessica Sutta of Pussycat Dolls, Ultra Nate, Deborah Cox and Inaya Day, among many others. Kotwa called the line-up "cross-generational."

Pride Fest opens at 11 a.m. both days, closing at 10 p.m. on Saturday and 9 p.m. on Sunday and is situated along Halsted St. from Addison to Grace. A gate donation of $8 benefits the Northalsted Business Alliance, the same group behind the popular Northalsted Market Days set for the weekend of Aug., 10 and 11.

More information about these and other Pride events in Chicago can be found on's CalendarQ

Related: Pride Fest Primer: Pride Week kicks-off in Boystown 

Related: interviews with Deborah Cox | Jessica Sutta is Chicago's Pride Headquarters! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

Full music lineup for Chicago Pride Fest 2013:

Saturday, June 22


12:30 p.m. Pride drag show

2 p.m. Aubrey O'Day, former Danity Kane singer

3 p.m. Pride drag show

4:30 p.m. Jessica Sutta, former Pussycat Doll

( interview with Jessica Sutta)

5:30 p.m. Pride drag show

6:30 p.m. Blu Cantrell

7 p.m. Pride drag show

8 p.m. Sasha Gradiva

8:30 p.m. Xelle

9 p.m. Dev


1 p.m. Tandem 6

2:30 pm. Chicago Gay Men's Chorus

3:30 p.m. Chicago Spirit Brigade

6 p.m. Wedding Banned

7:30 p.m. Windy City Cowboys

8 p.m. Rock Candy

Sunday, June 23


Noon Miss Foozie's Pet Parade Registration and Start

1 p.m. Pride drag show

2:30 p.m. Deborah Cox 

( interview with Deborah Cox)

3 p.m. Pride drag show

4 p.m. Ultra Nate

5 p.m. Inaya Day

6 p.m. Neon Hitch

7 p.m. Sandy B.

8 p.m. Janice Robinson and Tameka Starr


1 p.m. Miss Foozie's Pet Parade Contest

2 p.m. HAG

3:45 p.m. Chicago Spirit Brigade

4 p.m. The Personnel

6 p.m. Rod Tuffcurls

7:30 p.m. Sixteen Candles

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