Everything you need to know about the 2018 Chicago Pride Parade

KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

CHICAGO — The massively popular spectacle of Chicago's 49th annual Pride Parade returns to the North Side on Sunday, June 24. You're going to want to plan ahead before joining 750,000 of your closest friends and neighbors in showing support for the LGBTQ+ community.

THE BASICS

The Chicago Pride Parade, held on the last Sunday in June, caps off Pride Month and commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. After stepping off around noon at Montrose and Broadway, the parade heads south down Halsted and Broadway to Diversey Parkway in Lincoln Park. The 4-mile procession includes more than 150 floats with marching bands, drag queens, community groups, dancers, politicians, DJs, brand "street teams" and people who just love being in parades. This year's grand marshal will be Orlando "El Fenomeno"Cruz, the first openly gay active professional boxer, who in 2016 won the World Boxing Organizational Featherweight Title.

CTA map shows parade route and nearest L lines

THE ROUTE

  • STARTS at Montrose Avenue and Broadway in Uptown, heading south on Broadway
  • Continues south on Halsted Street through Boystown
  • Turns east on Belmont Avenue to Broadway
  • Turns south on Broadway to Diversey Parkway
  • Turns east on Diversey Parkway
  • ENDS at Diversey Parkway and Cannon Drive in Lincoln Park

BEST PLACES TO WATCH

To be in the middle of the action, organizers recommend lining up along Halsted Street in Boystown between Montrose and Grace. To avoid the crowds, grab a spot near the start along Broadway near Montrose, or near the end along Broadway south of Belmont. The east sides of the streets are also generally less crowded, according to Choose Chicago.

CROSSING THE STREET

There are crossovers at: Montrose, Irving Park, Grace Street, Addison Street, Roscoe Street, Wellington Avenue, Aldine Street, Cornelia Avenue or Oakdale Avenue.

GETTING THERE

Public transit is your best bet for getting to the parade and for getting home. Additional service will be added to the L, but trains can still get crowded fast. The parade route is a short walk from Red Line stops at Wilson, Sheridan and Addison, and the Red/Purple/Brown Line stop at Belmont. Brown Line stops at Wellington and Diversey are close to the final stretch of the parade.

With hundreds of thousands of people in the area, the Belmont station, in particular, can get quite crowded. The CTA recommends getting off at Addison on the Red Line or Wellington on the Brown Line.

If you're lucky, you could even ride an L train wrapped in a rainbow in celebration of Pride.

Many buses will be rerouted during the parade. Buses including the 146 and 151 can also provide easy access to the route, according to the CTA. For revelers headed into the city on Metra, UP and BNSF lines will offer additional service on Sunday for the parade.

PARKING AND STREET CLOSURES

Temporary parking bans take effect in the area from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m., and will be marked by signs, according to the city. Towing will begin promptly at 5 a.m. so it's best not to press your luck. Parking on Halsted and Belmont will stay restricted until 4 a.m. Monday. Watch for signs. Cross streets will close as the parade travels south down the route, and remain closed until it's over. It's expected to take at least two-and-a half hours to pass after starting at 12 p.m.

PRO TIPS

  • Drinking booze in public in Chicago can earn you a ticket and a $1,000 fine.
  • You can also get a fine for public urination, so be sure to stop at a restroom before you get trapped on the street.
  • If you want to come away with some swag, be sure to stand near the front of the crowd. People in the parade are not allowed (by law) to throw anything.
  • Choose lightweight clothing to handle the heat. Bring water, too.
  • Load up your Ventra card before heading out to avoid the inevitable lines of confused tourists.
  • You can bring kids and pets — but since you can get stuck for a couple of hours, it's likely better to leave them home.

OTHER WEEKEND EVENTS

Here are some other Pride events taking place over the weekend.

Dyke March, June 23
Reclaiming the word "dyke" for lesbian participants, the march is followed by a rally in Piotrowski Park to honor LGBTQ and "oppressed people everywhere," according to organizers.

Back Lot Bash, June 22-24
Now in its 15th year, the lesbian Pride event includes a Pride Family Fest and outdoor music festival.

Pride North, June 24
This free event brings DJs and dancing to the Far North Side in Rogers Park.

Navy Pier Pride, June 23
This family-friendly and free event brings Pride to the lakefront with drag queen story time, live performances and a fashion show.

Proud To Run, June 23
A charity Pride Month run includes a 5K and 10K course, starting at Montrose Avenue near Lake Shore Drive.