Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Jeremy Williams-Chalmers
Arts Correspondent
8:58 AM 26th June 2024

Celebrating Pride Month

To mark Pride month we sent our arts correspondent Jeremy Williams- Chalmers off to a Pride event and what a time he had!

Jeremy Williams-Chalmers
Jeremy Williams-Chalmers
Pride is a protest! That was the resounding message from Pride Cymru 2024. A Queers for Palestine protest, which formed a vocal but non-violent blockade to the proceedings, significantly delayed the opening parade as the event reached its milestone 25th anniversary. As the parade began, it became evident to a first-time attendee that this was a traditional Pride event. Without the glitz and glam of the all-singing and dancing floats of the bigger Prides in Birmingham, London, and Manchester (not a criticism of the former, as these are all equally wonderful and important), Pride Cymru was a community marching to share their voices and their messages. Emotion and enjoyment fuelled the parade, demonstrating unity in diversity.

The event began with a glorious parade, followed by the opening of the castle gates, which welcomed the masses for their first day of celebratory protest. With all factions of the community coming together, the event consisted of market stalls, community events, and two stages. With a stellar line-up across the two stages, the event easily delivered on the promise on the door.

While early highlights of the Saturday stages included Fletch's charismatic song-signing, Tom Aspaul's slick pop, and Catty's huge anthems, the main stage really kicked up a notch with the arrival of the awesome House Gospel Choir. Donna-Maria's Lady Gaga and the 25th Anniversary of Pride Cymru celebrations captivated the crowd, setting the stage for an epic dance to Ultrabeat, Gigi Spot's stunning song, and the headliners Vengaboys, who showcased not only their biggest hits but also glorious renditions of other 90s anthems. The Vengaboys had everyone jumping aboard their bus, with the audience leaving on a high note.

Sunday's celebrations, in comparison, were a more muted affair. With a larger focus on family and community, there were more stalls and lots of pop-up events. However, that does not mean that the entertainment did not deliver. With Brownwen Lewis and Kizzy Carpenter proving early highlights of the main stage, Chae With A C showed mainstage potential for 2025. With Harleymoon Kemp's country vibes delivering a truly memorable introduction to his future single, Drive-Thru, it was clear the audience was watching a star in the making. While Danny Beard seemed a little rushed in their delivery and Sarah Jayne as Shania Twain failed to capture the spirit of the artist she was impersonating, the arrival of Heather Small left everyone feeling proud in a glorious sing-along.

The task of emulating a true British icon, Drag King, was challenging. Justin Drag's weak vocals and poor staging were the entertainment lowlights of the weekend. However, Norway's Dagny raised spirits with a dazzling set before Victoria Scone launched into a winning set that featured a captivating Chappell Roan cover. While he had the difficult task of topping Heather Small, Dagny, and Victoria Scone's stunning performances, former Jake Shears proved he was more than able to close Pride Cymru 2024 in a blistering blaze of glory. Delivering a set that consisted mainly of his latest album and Scissor Sisters anthems, Cardiff Castle reached the same euphoria as the night before. A brief nod to his debut solo album, Creep City, and the delivery of a stunning cover of Freedom '90 completed the stunning set.

See a selection of Jeremy's photos here

While the entertainment was a notable highlight of the event, it was the constant reminders from performers, presenters, and participants that Pride is much more than a party that really left the biggest parting impression. Pride Cymru is an amazing event. As it hits a notable milestone, it hasn't forgotten who it is or what it stands for. It is a remarkable and unforgettable occasion that brings people together in a world that is becoming more and more divided.

It was more than just a strawberry dream. We boarded the Vengabus! We learned how to do television and left feeling proud!

The Pride Cymru was truly epic!