Watch: ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw reports from Rochester
Hundreds of people have attended Medway’s first ever LGBT Pride event in Rochester.
The celebration had been planned for 2020 but had to be postponed because of the pandemic.
Council officials gave the go-ahead for the ticketed event on disused land close to the Rochester Riverside housing development.
“It’s about making people feel comfortable in a space and it not being too busy,” explains Paul Cowell, Head of Culture at Medway Council. “You could potentially have three- or four-thousand people here but we’ve kept those tickets to a really easy capacity.”
Numbers were limited to 1,500, with those free tickets selling out within a week. Plans for a march through the town had to be scrapped because of social distancing concerns.
Hilary Cooke, Chair of the Medway Pride Community Interest Company (CIC), says it’s been a “fantastic response”.
“We knew there was a large LGBT+ community [in Medway] because they’ve had to travel to other events. It bodes well for next year,” Ms Cooke added.
Watch: Hilary Cooke, Chair of the Medway Pride CIC
Among the acts performing at the all-day event were tribute band ‘ABBA Chique’ and local drag queen ‘River Medway’. Kent Fire and Rescue Service and the NHS were among the organisations to have information stands.
The festival is part of an eight-day programme across North Kent that started with Gravesham Pride on Saturday, 14 August.
Pride events were also held in Faversham and Tunbridge Wells today but big celebrations in London and Brighton were cancelled this summer, for a second year, because of coronavirus.
Last year’s planned inaugural Medway Pride event had to be online-only because of coronavirus.
Medway is among a record number of areas bidding to become the UK City of Culture 2025, which can for the first time include groups of towns.