by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
In the very north of Northern Ireland, there's a beautiful city named Derry that is home to an estimated 106,000 residents. It isn't a big place by any means, but it's a wonderful retreat from larger urban areas in other parts of the island nation.
It is here in Derry, technically part of the United Kingdom and sometimes referred to as Londonderry, that Foyle Pride celebrations have been happening annually for two decades, although only three times has there been a parade. This year marks the 20th anniversary milestone. According to Joe Carlin, the event's chairperson, between 8,000 to 10,000 people are expected to attend this year's festivities, which kicked off August 20 with an appearance by writer-performer Amy Lamé and runs through August 25.
Saturday's parade will begin at 2 p.m. at Waterside Train Station, then over the Craigavon Bridge and past The Diamond before making its way down Shipquay Street, where a variety of live entertainment will be offered at Guildhall Square. 'Freedom and Expression' is the theme for this year's festivities.
Decorative floats, fire brigade members, drag queens, local LGBT organizations, and community leaders will march in the parade. After the events at Guildhall Square, located right in the center of town, many will wind up at Envy Bar & Night Club, the city's lone Gay bar, at the tail end of Strand Road, or at Sandinos, a Gay-friendly street-corner pub with two floors of space.
Foyle Pride started in 1993, just 11 years after homosexuality was decriminalized in Northern Ireland. It began with a political march, and in 2009 it expanded to a parade and multi-day festival. Attendees from nearby villages, such as Limavady, Dungiven, and Strabane, will also participate in Foyle Pride. Foyle, by the way, refers to the area, or county, that Derry lies in.
Derry is 90 minutes from Belfast and roughly 2.5 hours from Dublin by train on a very scenic route that provides views of sloping farm communities, lush green valleys, the fast-redeveloping city of Belfast, castles, cathedrals, and the coastal outline just outside of Dublin. For visitor information, go to www.discovernorthernireland.com. And for details on Foyle Pride, log onto http://foylepridefestival.com.
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