Thousands celebrate LGBTQ+ community at 23rd annual Chicago Pride Fest

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team, Christian Piekos, and Stephanie Wade WLS logo
Sunday, June 23, 2024
Thousands celebrate LGBTQ+ community at Chicago Pride Fest
The 23rd annual Chicago Pride Fest celebrated the LGBTQ+ community in Northalsted, with JoJo Siwa and Natasha Beddingfield performing Saturday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city is hosting its annual Pride Fest to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago.

It is one Chicago's largest street festivals, and it certainly brought out the masses Saturday.

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The 23rd annual Chicago Pride Fest is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and culture in Chicago. The two-day romp runs from Addison to Grace along Halsted.

Chicago's Northalsted neighborhood was crawling with people who came from all across the state to celebrate Pride. Northalsted, still often known as Boystown, traditionally hosts Chicago Pride Fest the weekend before the Pride Parade.

READ MORE | Chicago Pride Guide: What to know ahead of Pride Parade, Pride Fest 2024

There were massive lines to get in all day Saturday. There will be a $15 suggested donation that helps pay performers and festival workers and supports local non-profits and community programs.

As night fell, the party continued in Northalsted.

"This is probably the most people I've actually ever seen," attendee Charles Newson said. "We had to come in through a friend's apartment because the line was two hours."

Chicago is a great city. Love is love.
Mindy A, Pride Fest attendee

Pride and belonging was a resounding feeling among festivalgoers.

"I just feel like this is such a beautiful tradition," attendee Soren Williams said. "It's just so heartwarming. It's such a good community, and it's just so fun every year to be here."

Live music is blasting from three stages along Northalsted Saturday and Sunday. Natasha Bedingfield, JoJo Siwa, Amber Riley, Bob the Drag Queen, Sapphira Cristál and Empress Of are headlining the 2024 Chicago Pride Fest. The full lineup of performers and schedules can be found here.

JoJo Siwa took the stage earlier in day Saturday, and it sounded like many people came out to see her. Natasha Bedingfield headlined Saturday night.

"Everyone is so supporting and everybody is uplifting so it was so beautiful such a beautiful environment," attendee Delaney Sherikos said.

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The fest also has a Youth Pride Space for teens, the best of Chicago drag performances, a "proud pet" parade for prizes, dance exhibitions, and plenty of guest speakers.

Having come years prior, Newson said the crowd Saturday was noticeably younger.

"I think it's really evident that a lot more people feel comfortable coming out and a lot more people feel comfortable coming to events like this," Newson said. "I think that this neighborhood has done a really good job of being more inclusive. It's not just a space for a specific type of gay man. It's a space for everyone in the queer community, and I think that really shows."

There are also over 150 food and merch vendors.

"We want to celebrate all types of people and all different diversities and you want to support," attendee Daryl Quitalig said.

For those who missed out Saturday today and want to check it out, they will do it all over again Sunday. The gates open at 11 a.m.

"And it's just a good time. I mean Chicago is a great city. Love is love," attendee Mindy A said. "We love supporting one another of all types of people, all types of races all types of love backgrounds. Just wanna have fun."