Pride celebrations with a difference are happening in Halton this weekend
3 months ago
A Pride celebration unlike any that’s been held before is happening in Halton this weekend.
What makes Pride at the Priory so unique is that it will be taking place at Norton Priory, the historic site of a former monastic Abbey which dates back almost 900 years.
Now a museum and gardens, Norton Priory near Runcorn is one of the region’s most popular heritage visitor attractions.
It’s partnered with Pride in Halton and the North West HIV Support group to put on two days of family-friendly performances and activities on July 8 & 9 which will feature a fabulous compere, choirs, singers including an Elton John tribute act, theatre and the opening night of musical theatre show Electric Dreams.
There will also be a special guest appearance on Saturday by prominent gay rights activist Jonathan Blake who featured in the film Pride (played by Dominic West) and a candlelit vigil in the beautiful medieval undercroft closing the programme on Saturday.
This is the first time the Priory has hosted a Pride event and Rob Sanderson-Thomas says it shows their commitment to being a welcoming place for everyone.
“We’re thrilled to have Pride at Priory here this year and we’ve had a wonderful response so far from the community, it’s been overwhelmingly positive, which has been really encouraging to see,” he says.
“One of the things that’s really interesting about Norton Priory is our site was first developing in the 70s until the late 80s, that was when the excavations were happening and the archeological remains of the monastic complex were uncovered.
“That was a community project aimed at bringing people who lived in Runcorn together with people living in the new town that was being built and giving them a shared sense of place and history. That’s very much what we still try to do, to bring people in and say to them, ‘you might think you know what we are but actually we’re lots of other things as well’.
“Pride at the Priory is different to what we usually do but a lot of our events reach a really broad section of people. We also like to partner with other organisations as much as possible because that means we can do more than we would be able to on our own and we can make sure that our programming is relevant to the local community and reflects what society is actually like.”
Saturday’s line-up, opened by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, will be Party Pride and Sunday is Family Pride although both days are suitable for all ages.
Rob adds: “I think lots of people might think Pride is just a big party, and it is a celebration, but it’s also about remembering and part of that is that the fight still isn’t finished, there’s still work to do.
“Through Pride at the Priory what we hope to do is say to people, ‘if you’ve not been to a Pride event before for whatever reason, but you want to experience one, then this is a great opportunity to do it. It’s a really safe environment and it’s quite unique because it’s going to be taking place at a monastic site, not in a town centre or a pub or club, so it will have a different feel to any other Pride that has happened.”
Hayley Smith from Pride in Halton and North West HIV Support says Norton Priory is the perfect venue for what will be their second Pride in Halton event.
“It’s a fabulous big space and somewhere family-friendly where people can be safe and be themselves,” she says.
“I used to live in London so I’d go to London Pride and Brighton Pride and I thought, why hasn’t Halton got a Pride? I thought it was about time we did.
“Last year we held our first one in a local pub, but I felt it was something that needed to happen each year and to grow because we need to show visibility to the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s important that people don’t feel they need to go to London, Liverpool or Manchester to be accepted and be themselves, they should feel free to do it in their home town. We are here as one and we should all be living as one.”
To buy advance tickets, go to the website HERE.
Check out The Guide Liverpool Business Directory HERE.