Highlight of Manchester Pride gets under way

The highlight of the Manchester Pride festival, the city's annual gay and lesbian festival, has got under way.

The Big Weekend in the Gay Village lasts for four days of the festival which is marking its 21st year.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to join in the event to celebrate the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Its centre-piece is the Pride Parade which takes place in the city centre on Saturday.

The Big Weekend is described as "one of the biggest parties in the UK" by organisers.

Festival Director Jackie Crozier said this year the festival had aimed to celebrate the positive elements of Manchester and its diversity, community and strength in the wake of the recent riots.

Pride ends on Monday with a candlelit vigil for all those who have died of an HIV or Aids-related illness.

The festival began in 1990 as a collection of bring-and-buy stalls outside a pub.

The event has raised £895,000 for charity since 2003.

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