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Plan LA Pride 2019 like a pro with these parade and festival tips

LA Pride
Photograph: Wain Tan

Last year’s LA Pride Festival sold out for the first time in its 48-year history, with thousands of rainbow-laden attendees flooding Santa Monica Boulevard. If we’re to glean anything from that record-breaking celebration, it’s to come prepared.

What’s the deal?

Are you ready to Pride, L.A.? The 2019 LA Pride Festival takes place at West Hollywood Park on June 8 (noon–1am) and 9 (noon–11pm), bookended by Friday’s new opening ceremony (8–11pm) and Sunday’s prized LA Pride Parade (11am–2pm). Activations like the Trans Galeria (a photo-op installation), Erotic City (a leather and S&M workshop) and Sizzle (an alcohol- and substance-free carnival) return to the festivities this year, peppered between the three concert stages.

Once a humble street fair, LA Pride has evolved into one of the biggest events of its kind in the country, with increasingly star-studded musical acts. At this year’s fest, soulful pop star Meghan Trainor headlines on Saturday, with electro-pop trio Years & Years on Sunday. CupcakKe, Kodie Shane, Ashanti, Pabllo Vittar, Amara La Negra, Greyson Chance and DeJ Loaf round out the lineup of LGBTQ and allied performers.

Though the parade is gratis to watch, the ticketed festival will cost you: $30 for a day (VIP $250) or $50 for the weekend (VIP $450). Want to join in on the fun for free? Sign up for a four-hour volunteer shift and you’ll receive a complimentary single-day ticket.

What’s new in 2019?

Pride revelers will get more costless access than ever, starting with an official opening ceremony on Friday, when Paula Abdul will bring her choreography-heavy hits to an open concert in West Hollywood Park (8pm). She tops a night of celebrations that includes welcome remarks by community and spiritual leaders, the WeHo Vogue Ball & Drag Show and hours of DJ sets.

Also, for the first time, the LA Pride Festival will take over Santa Monica Boulevard, between San Vicente and Robertson Boulevards, with Pride on the Boulevard, a free block party showcasing local bands on Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 7pm.

Where should you park?

Traffic-induced headaches are par for the course during the weekend. Since LA Pride doesn’t provide parking, we recommend an early arrival as well as ride-sharing or public transportation. If you must drive, there’s a parking garage at the Pacific Design Center as well as other public lots along Santa Monica Boulevard at both Kings Road and Sweetzer Avenue (bring cash). When’s the Parade? The celebratory procession goes down Sunday along Santa Monica Boulevard, from Fairfax Avenue to Doheny Drive, starting at 11am.

Where should you watch it?

The balconies at Micky’s and Fiesta Cantina offer a fantastic, elevated view of the procession, so arrive early to nab your spot.

Where should you eat and drink?

Nearly every bar along the stretch is preparing to host thousands of partygoers all weekend long. On top of the time-honored celebrations at the Abbey and Pump, ’NSync singer Lance Bass and his live-music sports bar, Rocco’s Tavern, will host a party at a new location on the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente Boulevards.

For grub, opt for quick, hole-in-the-wall eats on the main drag, like wrapped-to-perfection burritos from LA Buns & Co., crispy slices from Greenwich Village Pizzeria or cookout-style burgers and fries from Hamburger Haven.

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