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Newry was awash with colour and fun over the weekend as the city held UK and Ireland Pride for the first time ever, as part of the Pride in Newry festivities that culminated on Saturday with the pride parade and concert.

Representatives from Sydney Mardi Gras, all the way from Australia to Newry for the weekend. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Representatives from Sydney Mardi Gras came all the way from Australia to Newry for the weekend. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

The parade which was the largest yet saw several thousand take to the streets with a fiting mix of celebration and protest from the participants. The weather couldn't have been kinder to the event with threatening rain keeping away for the duration of the almost hour long parade as it wound it's way down Merchant's Quay and then through Hill street, Newry's main thoroughfare.

Saara Aalto on stage at Pride in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Saara Aalto on stage at Pride in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Participants included European Pride Organisors Association, Gay Farmers Helpline, Barnardos, Dublin Pride, Belfast Pride, Youth Action, Fight for Alfie, Cool FM, Christians at Pride, Confederation of Community Groups, Magnet Centre, Ulster University, almost all the political parties and many more.

First Derivatives, Danske Bank, Bank of Ireland, Sainsburys, Tescos were just some of the businesses taking part.

Unions were also well represented with the Union of Students in Ireland, Unison, Unite the Union, Communication Workers Union and the HSC as well as the NI Civil Service among those who took part.

Several thousand attended what was probably the first large scale concert on the site of Newry's proposed city park at the Albert Basin. Aside from a torrential spell of rain and wind for about 5 minutes the late August weather couldn't have been kinder.

The crowds were well entertained with a multitude of acts including Pride in Newry regulars Graciano Major and the Just Adam Band along with feted visitors Saarah Aalto, Claire Richards from Steps, Heather Small and headliners B*Witched.

When Heather Small broke into Moving on Up, it perhaps should have been called ' Looking on up' with the fireworks display simultaneously erupting, brightning the Newry autumn skyline.

... And just when you thought it was all over, Ireland's very own B*Witched took to the stage bursting into a rousing version of Blame it on the Weatherman, perhaps a homage to the ten minute deluge an hour or so earlier that had sent revellers scrambling. 

That a small group of Newry volunteers from Newry Rainbow Community managed to produce such an event is not only a testament to their energy and resolve but also a reflection of our incredible welcome and open city of Newry. Congratulations to all.

 

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