OutUK for more than 20 Years
    First Published: Before August 2002
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
Following talks with the Police and Manchester City Council, the organisers of Manchester Mardi Gras 2002 have announced more details about their plans for the event this weekend. Their latest announcements follow a week of considerable uncertainty, and the earlier cancellation of the event.
The Big Parade, Essential Dance Arena, Essential Main Stage, Candlelit Vigil and Street Market are all back on. The organisers say that 80% of the acts on the main stage will be there. The only event that won't be happening is the Works Party.

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Manchester GayFest 2001
Canal Street during GayFest 2001
On Monday 19th August Manchester's Mardi Gras was cancelled after police decided to enforce a ban on public drinking across the whole event due to be held over the Bank Holiday weekend. This would have meant that thousands of partygoers would have been forced into the Canal Street gay village.

In a press statement Mardi Gras organisers The Village Business Association said they had been left with no choice but to cancel the event, Following the Greater Manchester Police's decision to enforce a restrictive alcohol tolerance zone on this year's Mardi Gras. The GMP designated zone allowing drinking in the street was to have been limited to Canal Street alone.

"We took the considered view that due to the enormous numbers historically attracted to The Gay Village for Mardi Gras, the prospect of cramming thousands of party revellers onto Canal Street was simply unsafe and could have led to a disaster of Hillsborough proportions" said a Village Business Association spokesman.

"We have spent three weeks in meetings, making telephone calls, sending emails and talking to the various groups involved in an attempt to marginally extend the alcohol tolerance zone in order to accommodate the huge numbers. When it was clear that the other parties would not even discuss our concerns we had no alternative but to cancel Mardi Gras 2002".

The spokesman continued "Despite the cancellation of established elements of the weekend such as the parade through the city centre, the entertainment in the park, and the market, the message to the gay community is Manchester Gay Pride will continue over the weekend with even more focus on 'Operation Fundraiser'. The authorities may be shortsighted in their handling of the alcohol tolerance zone but this will not stop gay men and women and their friends partying, and the bars and clubs are committed to ensuring that as much as possible will be raised for the charities, with all the venues continuing with their planned events."

On Wednesday 21st August, just two days before the event weekend, there were further talks between the Police, Manchester City Council and the event's organisers. A compromise was reached where by the alcohol tolerance zone was extended, and the Greater Manchester Police denied a previously publicised allegation of homophobia.

Steph Kay, treasurer of the Village Business Association, said a lot of bridges had been built at the meeting. "We took on board the police's concerns on health and safety and they listened to us as well," she said.

"We are going to put on the biggest and best Mardi Gras the city has seen."

"Manchester is the gay capital of the UK and we want to show everyone that we can put on a party", she added.

Next Year Manchester is set to host Europride - the largest gay event in Europe.

 

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