With chart-topping pop stars like Kehlani and Tove Lo headlining last year’s L.A. Pride Festival, no one could have been surprised by an unusually high turnout. However, during last year’s Pride, the City of West Hollywood, along with the Pride organizers of Christopher Street West, saw an unexpected number of ticket sales and flooded streets on Saturday, June 9, causing parade-goers to be turned away by the thousands.
Before any of the headlining performances began, helicopters circled in the sky, and thousands of ticket-buyers were being told by the L.A. Fire Department that the venue was full. Fast-forward to next weekend: the festival is as popular as ever and the headliners are equally as thrilling. This leaves attendees wondering if the trek will even be worth it, or will they be turned away at the gates again. The Pride L.A. spoke with Madonna Cacciatore, CSW Executive Director about the subject. So if you plan on attending the festival this year, keep on reading!
Why were guests being turned away at the gate last year?
The venue hit capacity and our main priority is the safety of our guests. We had to prioritize safety above all else and accept responsibility for all the issues it caused at the door.
Did the event sell out? Was it over capacity?
The LA Pride festival sold out for the first time in the nearly 50-year history. Many attendees arrived early and stayed all day which has never happened before.
Why does the Pride Festival get so crowded?
The event has grown from a small community gathering into something completely unique: a safe and inclusive space where tens of thousands of people can gather to embrace everyone for who they are.
What steps is CSW taking to assuage crowd control this year?
With the obvious increase in demand for the LA Pride festival, we will be working with the City of West Hollywood and the community to continue to improve and evolve the festival. We are working to continue adding more programming for our guests to participate in. This year, we have added a free block party called “Pride on the Boulevard” which allows guests to gather and watch local performers on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. The block party will be located on Santa Monica Boulevard between San Vicente and Robertson Boulevards and is a great place for people to unite and celebrate together. We have also added a new free Friday night program that will feature an official Opening Ceremony and a combination of entertainment including a Weho Vogue Ball and Drag Show, music from local DJs and special surprise guests. For our 21+ guests, we are offering two new beer gardens located in the Koontz Hardware parking lot and next to The Factory.
LA Pride is also implementing the below to help create a more seamless event experience:
• Ticketing and guest services relocated to Santa Monica Boulevard, between Palm and Hancock Avenues, to expedite entrance into the festival grounds and reduce wait times
• New and additional street closures to help improve the flow
• Increased and improved security teams with specialized training for the LGBTQ+ community
• Improvements to ADA implementation and accessibility for all guests, with extra focus on safe access and space throughout the festival for those guests requiring additional assistance. All ADA compliance and improvements will be overseen by Accessible Festivals.
How will the expansion onto Santa Monica Boulevard help?
The expansion onto Santa Monica Blvd allows for additional opportunities for the community to engage with the festival and each other.
How can guests ensure entrance this year?
We encourage guests to plan accordingly and arrive earlier in the day to ensure entrance this year.
LA Pride is organized by nonprofit Christopher Street West Association, Inc. This year’s festival is help on June 8-9 and the parade will be on June 9. For more information and tickets, visit lapride.org