The big, bold, and beautiful festival Miami Beach Gay Pride will return to Miami Beach in April for a weeklong celebration for the LGBTQ community, their friends, allies, and supporters. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the fest that now attracts more than 100,000 visitors. Over the course of the festival's existence, it's evolved into a gigantic celebration and has expanded its demographic through events catering to both younger and seasoned crowds.
The highly anticipated celebration will take place Monday, April 2, through Sunday, April 8. Pride's organizers have planned a week jam-packed with events, ranging from live music and parties to pageants, fireworks, parades, and other fun. They'll be sweeping glitter off the streets till 2019.
“It's a unique celebration. Everybody is welcome to celebrate who they are, LGBT, straight, ally," says Dave Cook, executive director of Miami Beach Gay Pride. "A lot of people come up to me and they say, 'Dave, I grew up in a very homophobic family... and this is the time of the year I can come to be myself,'" he recalls. "And they're in tears that they can walk around in public without any fear of persecution. That is the best feeling."
From downtown Miami to South Beach, here are five unmissable Miami Beach Gay Pride events.
1. 10th-Anniversary Pride Parade. According to Cook, Miami Beach Gay Pride's preferred float company has been sold out for weeks. That means Miami is planning on bringing it hard. Secure your spot along Ocean Drive from Fifth to 15th Street for a vibrant spectacle offering over-the-top floats, decked-out convertibles, and other delights. The colorful parade — led by the fest's grand marshal, Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy, along with ally marshal NBC 6's Roxanne Vargas — will include about 80 floats. If there's one event you need to attend during the week, it's this one. Noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 8, on Ocean Drive from Fifth to 15th Streets, Miami Beach. Admission is free.
2. Tenth-Anniversary Pride Festival. For this year's celebration, the fest's organizers have redesigned the footprint and made room for a larger dance floor and much more space that will now face north near the main stage. Clearly, Miami party people need all the room they can get to shake their asses in true South Beach fashion. The festival will kick off Saturday at noon with more than 100 vendors and sponsors, DJs, tents for a variety of demographics, and a live concert by Betty Who on the main stage at 9 p.m. When it comes to some of the fest's entertainment, Miami Beach Gay Pride is "doing a little throwback," Cook says: Its Sunday-night headliners are Taylor Dayne and '70s diva Thelma Houston. Be sure to catch the fireworks Sunday night at 10 p.m. Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 7, through Sunday, April 8, on Ocean Drive from Fifth to 15th Streets, Miami Beach. Admission is free.
3. Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride Pageant. As we honor her royal highness Miss Pride 2017 Joanna James, the sixth-annual coronation will take place Monday, April 2, at the fabulous Faena Theater. Do you have the charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to be crowned Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride Queen 2018? The Miami Beach Gay Pride fundraiser, hosted by Peter J. Morales and past crown winners Tiffany T. Fantasia and Athena Dion, will be a highlight kicking off the weeklong celebration. Red-carpet champagne reception from 7:30 to 8:30 and pageant starts at 9 p.m. Monday, April 2, at Faena Theater, 3201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-534-8800; faena.com. Tickets cost $20 to $450 plus fees via miamibeachgaypride.com.
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4. PAMM Free Community Night: Pride. It's day four of Pride. If you haven't left the house decked out in rhinestones and glitter by now, you're doing it wrong. For one night, ditch the beach and head downtown for a free Pride community event hosted by Karla Croqueta. The museum's galleries will be open until 9 p.m., but the real party will go down on the picturesque waterfront terrace. PAMM is pulling out the stops with a stellar night, featuring drag performances, a House of Lords vogue showcase, and sets by DJ Hottpants and DJ Zehno. Your wigs will be snatched with performances by Tiffany Fantasia, Noel Leon, Kunst, and Queef Latina, who was voted by readers as best drag queen in New Times' Best of Miami 2017. Full disclosure: This writer is involved in organizing this event, so believe me — it's gonna be good. 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 5, at Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-375-3000; pamm.org. Admission is free; RSVP at pamm.org/pammpride2018.
5. Basement Pride Kick-Off Party. Miami's favorite subterranean disco will kick off Pride weekend with an all-out bash offering sounds by Paulo Pacheco and disco beats in the bowl by Deejay Smeejay. Dubbed one of Miami's most exclusive clubs by New Times, this adult playground is where you'll want to start your Pride right. The club, developed by Ian Schrager of Studio 54, boasts a 2,000-square-foot ice rink for all you sassy skaters and a four-lane bowling alley. Who's gonna score at Basement tonight? Just one piece of advice: Don't go too hard — there's still a weekend of fabulous events to follow. 11 p.m. Friday, April 6, at Basement Miami, 2901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-257-4548; basementmiami.com. Admission is free before midnight with registration, and tickets cost $25 to $69 plus fees via miamibeachgaypride.com.