UK queer hubs LGBT events Homobloc 2019 in Manchester HERO. CREDIT Jody Hartley

UK queer hubs: LGBT events, festivals and more

If you’re visiting the UK to check out the queer scene, you’ll no doubt make a beeline for London. The capital is naturally packed with iconic LGBT events and historic places to visit. However, anyone who lives here knows that London is just the tip of a rainbow-coloured iceberg. The UK is packed with wildly creative queer hubs, each with a distinct identity and vibrant calendar of parties, performances and Pride festivals. Here you’ll find nine amazing cities that shouldn’t be missed if you’re looking for a real taste of the UK queer scene.

All of these cities have very established gay scenes that you can read about in any number of other gay travel guides. This list is about the events, festivals and spaces that are inclusive of everyone who exists under the queer umbrella. So, if you like your LGBT events to feature drag kings, QTIPOC hosts and non-binary DJs, then here’s everything you’ll want to know about.

Have I missed something fabulous? Comment below and share the love 👇

📷 above image from Homobloc 2019 in Manchester. CREDIT: Jody Hartley

Belfast

UK queer hubs LGBT events Belfast Cabaret Supper Club CREDIT @skeletonboyuk
Ross Anderson-Doherty at Cabaret Supper Club. CREDIT: @skeletonboyuk

Despite only legalising same-sex marriage in January 2020, Northern Ireland’s capital has a small but very vibrant queer scene. Yes, Drag Race UK contestant Blu Hydrangea is from here but it’s also home to the very fabulous Ross Anderson-Doherty (aka Cake Daddy). Catch them performing at Cabaret Supper Club and the annual queer art and performance festival, Outburst, alongside a whole host of other local talents. 

Venues: sparkly drag spot  Maverick Bar; arts venue and bar Black Box; dine and drag Cabaret Supper Club; queer/feminist arts space The 343, gay bar/club Boombox Belfast.

Parties and clubs: PonyhawkeQueertopia, Ellen and Edie Present, Haus of Falls (who throw the Troll Ball), GIRL, Harland & Poof.

Festivals: queer arts festival Outburst (12-20 November 2021); free arts festival Culture Night (Sept 2021 date TBC).

Projects of interest: QueerSpace Belfast, Belfast Trans Resource Centre, Pride in Solidarity.

Pride: Belfast Pride 2021 is TBC but is rumoured to be 31 July-1 August. The next Trans Pride NI will take place in 2021 (date TBA).

🏨 Hotels in Belfast

🛌 Hostels in Belfast

🏡 Holiday homes in Belfast

Birmingham

UK queer hubs LGBT events Birmingham Shout Festival 2019 CREDIT Midlands Zone
Sharon Le Grand, Ginny Lemon, Juno Birch and Tammy Reynolds at SHOUT Festival. CREDIT: Midlands Zone

The UK’s second-largest city has its very own Gay Village that is bursting with sceney bars. But scratch its surface and you’ll discover Birmingham has an amazing array of queer arts festivals. Keep an eye out for local performers such as the (hopefully soon to be launched) House of Bab.

Venues: queer pub The Fox; campy club The Nightingale.

Parties and clubs: DragPunk, Kings N’ Things, Mother’s Meeting.

Festivals: queer art and culture festival Shout (November 2021 dates TBC); international theatre and performance festival Fierce (10-16 October 2022); QTIPOC film festival CineQ (November 2021 dates TBC).

Projects of interest: UnmutedMap of Queer Brum.

Pride: Birmingham Pride will next take place on 25-26 September 2021.

🏨 Hotels in Birmingham

🛌 Hostels in Birmingham

🏡 Holiday homes in Birmingham

Brighton

UK queer hubs LGBT events Brighton Brownton Abbey CREDIT Brownton Abbey
Brownton Abbey

Arguably the queerest place in the UK, Brighton‘s LGBTQ+ history dates back to Napoleonic Wars when garrisoned soldiers turned the seaside city into a gay hotspot. These days, Brighton is one of our most trans-friendly cities, holding Europe’s first Trans Pride march in 2013, thanks to the work of local activists including fashion historian E-J Scott and author Juno Dawson

Venues: queer pub and theatre The Marlborough (under new management from mid-2020); gay bar/club Revenge; old school boozer Bedford Tavern.

Parties and club nights: KingdomPolyglamorousThe Powder RoomTraumfrau, Lip Sync For Your Life.

Festivals: LGBTQ+ literature festival The Coast is Queer (2022 date TBC); Film Pride (2021 date TBC).

Exhibitions: Queer the Pier at the Brighton Museum (until February 2022). You can also collect the LGBTQ Trail for the Brighton Museum at the entrance.

ToursPiers and Queers.

Places of interest: AIDS Memorial Sculpture in New Steine Gardens, The Feminist Bookshop.

Projects of interest: QTIPOC NarrativesBrownton Abbey, Marlborough Productions (formerly ran the queer pub The Marlborough)

Pride: Brighton Pride will next take place on 6-8 August 2021 and Trans Pride Brighton & Hove on 17 July 2021..

🏨 Hotels in Brighton

🛌 Hostels in Brighton

🏡 Holiday home in Brighton

Bristol

UK queer hubs LGBT events Bristol Pride CREDIT Srah Klein
Bristol Pride 2019. CREDIT: Sarah Klein

Long favoured by anarchists and environmentalists, Bristol has a very radical vibe and a big queer scene. It’s also one of the most popular cities for polyamorous people outside of London. My top tip? Don’t miss the outdoor parties thrown by People Like Us during the summer. Amazing crowd, music and energy.

Venues: live music venue Exchange; club Queenshilling; gay-owned pub and party venue Phoenix.

Parties and clubs: Bitch PleaseBrizzle BoyzDon’t Tell Your MotherSlaughterhausPeople Like UsHorseplayIndigo/HushGrrrl CrushScritch Cabaret, Punka.

Festivals: Queer Vision film festival (part of Bristol Pride in July); queer arts festival All Out All Dayer (2021 date TBA).

Exhibitions: the M Shed has an LGBT+ history audio guide.

Projects of interest: KikiThornyQueer Kink Bristol.

Pride: Bristol Pride will next take place 10 July 2021. Trans Pride South West takes place in Bristol, with its 2021 date TBA.

🏨 Hotels in Bristol

🛌 Hostels in Bristol

🏡 Holiday home in Bristol

Glasgow

UK queer hubs LGBT events Glasgow Category is Books CREDIT Category Is Books
Category Is Books

Often overlooked by tourists who flock to neighbouring Edinburgh, Glasgow actually has the biggest queer scene and largest Pride celebration in Scotland. There’s an impressive amount to do here – including a queer walking tour, bookshop and sex shop – but the Lesbian Archive should not be missed, as it’s one of the most significant collections of LGBT+ history in the UK.

Venues: drag king/queen shows Katie’s Bar; queerish cabaret bar The Riding Room.

Parties and clubs: Queer TheoryPush It

Festivals: queer film festival SQIFF (2021 date TBC); live art and radical performance festival Buzzcut (3-5 June 20201); queer theatre readings festival QWERK (2021 date TBC).

Tours: Queer Glasgow walking tour

Places of interest: Queer bookshop Category Is Books, lovely queer sex toy shop Luke & Jack.

Projects of interest: Scotch BonnetOutspoken Arts, the Lesbian Archive at the Glasgow Women’s Library.

Pride: Pride Glasgow 2021 date TBC. Trans Pride Scotland changes its location every year (2021 date TBC).

🏨 Hotels in Glasgow

🛌 Hostels in Glasgow

🏡 Holiday homes in Glasgow

Leeds

UK queer hubs LGBT events Leeds CLAY CREDIT Centre for Live Art Yorkshire
Centre for Live Art Yorkshire

It could be said that this northern city encapsulates the history and the future of queerness in the UK. Not only is Leeds home to The New Penny (our oldest, continuously running gay pub) but it’s also home to Mermaids, a charity that supports trans and gender-diverse children. I also love how many DIY women-centric parties and creative groups there are here.

Venues: legendary drag bar Viaduct; performance art theatre CLAY; arty events venue Wharf Chambers.

Parties and clubs: Dyke ChambersHouse of Suarez Vogue BallGirl Gang LeedsGrind GirlsLove Muscle.

Festivals: Leeds Queer Film Festival (2021 date TBA); Queer Arts North Showcase (2021 date TBA).

Places of interest: The New Penny.

Projects of interest: QueerologyNon-Binary LeedsWest Yorkshire Queer StoriesQTIPOC LeedsMermaids.

Pride: Leeds Pride and Trans Pride Leeds have both been postponed till 2022 with new dates TBA.

🏨 Hotels in Leeds

🛌 Hostels in Leeds

🏡 Holiday homes in Leeds

Liverpool

UK queer hubs LGBT events Liverpool Tammy Reynolds AKA Midgette Bardot CREDIT Rebecca Connoly
Tammy Reynolds. CREDIT: Rebecca Connolly

Legendary queer club Garlands (RIP) may have only recently shuttered its doors, but there is still so much worth visiting Liverpool for. Homotopia, the UK’s longest-running LGBTQIA arts and culture festival, is a highlight of every autumn, while Liverpool Queer Collective keeps you up to date on events throughout the year. Personally, I’m obsessed with the power and style of local drag performer Tammy Reynolds (aka Midgitte Bardot).

Venues: ornate basement bar Lisbon; art/club space 24 Kitchen Street; glam club/party venue District.

Parties and clubs: House of Suarez Vogue BallLost & FoundSonic Yootha, Eat Me.

Festivals: international LGBT+ arts festival Homotopia (Oct/Nov 2021 date TBA). 

Exhibitions: Museum of Liverpool’s LGBT+ collections.

Projects of interest: Liverpool Queer Collective.

Pride: both Pride in Liverpool and Liverpool TransPride are awaiting annoucement of their 2021 dates.

🏨 Hotels in Liverpool

🛌 Hostels in Liverpool

🏡 Holiday homes in Liverpool

Manchester

UK queer hubs LGBT events Manchester Homobloc 2019 Dave Tester. CREDIT Homobloc
Dave Tester at Homobloc 2019. CREDIT: Jody Hartley

It’s been over 20 years since the original series of Queer As Folk was shown on UK TV and not a whole lot has changed on Canal Street, Manchester‘s gay village and the setting for the show. However, an alternative queer scene has grown up around it, holding some of the country’s most iconic vogue balls and parties. Homobloc is one not to be missed.

Venues: loft-style bar and event space Tribeca; iconic lesbian bar Vanilla; vogue ball venue Gorilla; mecca of alternative culture Islington Mill.

Parties and clubs: Black Pride Vogue BallThe Boi ZoneBolloxCha Cha BoudoirGrind GirlsHomoelectricHouse of Suarez Vogue BallMother’s RuinHouse of Ghetto.

Festivals: arts festival Trans Vegas (summer 2021); epic electronic music festival Homobloc (6 November 2021); LGBT+ writing and performance festival OutStageUs (2021 date TBC); BAME dance, theatre and live performance festival Black Gold Arts (2021 date TBC); queer arts festival  Turn On Fest (2022 date TBC).

Places of interest: the Transgender Remembrance MemorialThe Beacon of Hope (HIV/AIDs memorial) and the Alan Turing Memorial are all in Sackville Gardens.

Projects of interest: Girl Gang ManchesterOuting the PastRainbow NoirSuperbiaTrans Creative.

Pride: Manchester Pride will take place on 27-30 August 2021. Sparkle Weekend, which is Manchester’s version of Trans Pride, will next take place from 8-10 July 2022.

🏨 Hotels in Manchester

🛌 Hostels in Manchester

🏡 Holiday homes in Manchester

Margate

UK queer hubs LGBT events Margate Pride 2018 CREDIT Minka Guides
Margate Pride 2018. CREDIT: Minka Guides

Last (but definitely not least) is a true renaissance city. Left to crumble for decades, this once iconic seaside town has seen a resurgence in the past few years, with a small but vibrant queer community springing up. The perfect day trip from London, Margate holds my favourite Pride festival in the UK because it has such creative DIY energy. 

Venues: queer arty events space Margate Arts Club; open-air summer bar The Sun Deck; gay bar Sundowners.

Parties and clubs: Cockles and Muscles, Queer Neon Nights

Festivals: arts and culture festival celebrating International Women’s Day POW! (March 2021); Margate Pride includes a week-long arts fest with year-round programming.

Pride: the amazing Margate Pride will take place on 14 August 2021.

🏨 Hotels in Margate

🛌 Hostels in Margate

🏡 Holiday homes in Margate

Subscribe for more queer travel!

Go on gorgeous – pin this blog for later!

UK queer hubs LGBT events and festivals Minka Guides

Affiliate Disclosure: This blog has affiliate links for Booking.com, Get Your Guide, Awin and Hostelworld. This means I may earn a small commission if you click-through and makes a purchase. All my recommendations are genuine and are in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set (so that they can link the reason for your purchase to my blog).

More Stories
Polyamory memes and tweets - Madonna hero CREDIT
Polyamory memes and tweets: my all-time faves