Thousands watch Manchester's Pride parade get the festival underway

Manchester is packed with people and the party atmosphere is in full swing as the gates swing open to the city's Pride Festival. Credit: ITV News.

Thousands of people are descending on Manchester for the city's Pride Festival.

On Saturday the Pride Parade weaved its way down Deansgate and Portland Street kick-starting the weekend's festivities.

Grammy and Brit Award winner - and honorary Mancunian - Ariana Grande will return to the city to headline the LGBT+ charity’s new event Manchester Pride Live at Mayfield this August Bank Holiday Weekend.

The singer will join a stellar line up including British synth-pop band Years and Years and 80’s duo Bananarama as she performs a selection of songs from her Sweetener World Tour at the new live element of the Manchester Pride Festival which this year is headline sponsored by boohoo and boohooMAN.

A key spot for the Gay Village Party is the Thomas Cook Airlines Stage at Sackville Gardens, where the likes of Lulu and Liberty X will be performing.

In the plot of land that previously held the main stage, now known as the Sackville Square Fair, a fairground has been installed, with dodgems and other rides to entertain the crowds.

Then on the ground level of the car park on the corner of Sackville Street and Bloom Street is the Indoor Arena Expo, where Pride-goers dance to their own beat in the silent disco.

The Pride Parade kicks off at midday. Credit: ITV News.

A brand new addition to Manchester Pride Festival this year is Youth Pride MCR.

The event will take place at YES, a venue located on Charles Street just a 5 minute walk from The Gay Village Party.

It's is fully accessible and has multiple different themed rooms, plus a roof terrace and bar for parents or guardians who wish to wait.

A Candlelit Vigil will close the four days of the festival on Monday with a moment of reflection in Sackville Gardens.

The home of Alan Turing, The National Transgender Memorial and the Beacon of Hope, the gardens will be turned into a sea of flickering candles as the party calms and comes to end.

It's an opportunity to take a minute to remember those lost to the HIV virus as LGBT+ people join together to fight the epidemic worldwide, and the stigma that still exists.

The Candlelit Vigil also provides a space to remember those who are suffering and those who are persecuted, presenting an opportunity to stand together in a united front as we recognise the many challenges that are still faced by LGBT+ communities, both here in the UK and around the world.