Cardiff Mardi Gras pictures 2013

Cardiff Mardi Gras

*update: See footnote for details of 2014 “Pride Cymru”*
Pride Cymru: Cardiff Mardi Gras 2014

Cardiff Mardi Gras: Celebrating LGBT identities with pride!

Caridff Mardi Gras is Wales’ leading Gay Pride event. However, its much more than that – its not only “Wales’ biggest celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities”, it’s a party in the park for all! With much of the entertainment specifically intended to be family friendly: it’s a very inclusive event. Adding to the true Mardi Gras spirit, in 2012 a parade through the streets of Cardiff was added to the schedule of events. In 2013, I was asked to photograph some of the event – immediately below is a selection of images from the parade and later in this article are images from inside the stadium to give you a flavour of the event.

The idea behind the Mardi Gras has always been to bring people together, to celebrate all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. As a visitor, one thing you’ll notice is there is such a diversity of identities that everyone fits in.

Cardiff Mardi Gras is a giant party in the park

(except for 2013 when it moved to the Millennium Stadium but we’ll come to that!)

My first visit was back in 2011: and for me it felt like a very scary thing to go to, as I’d only come out as trans* in 2010 and I’d never been to a Pride event before. I needn’t have felt worried – from the moment I went through the gates into the park, the upbeat, and joyous atmosphere just made for a really positive experience: people were nice, and the whole vibe was really welcoming: particularly for a newbie like me.

Cardiff Mardi Gras Parade picture
In 2013 I was able to take part in the parade that processed through the streets of Cardiff – it was a truly awesome experience and there was a real sense of belonging and pride, as lesbian; gay; bisexual and transgender identified individuals came together as a group. Seeing the procession stretching through the city centre gave a real sense of just how common LGBT identities are, which felt important in tackling the sense of isolation so many within the community can feel, particularly before coming out.

Cardiff Mardi Gras has historically been held in Bute park, and whilst the park has been a popular location for those attending, in 2013 the Mardi Gras was forced to relocate to Cardiff Millennium Stadium: it proved a controversial move. The cost of hiring the park had become prohibitive, and the apparent advantage of the stadium was that it offered a guarantee against the vagaries of the British Summer: despite this visitors felt the venue lacked the atmosphere of the park and discussion with Cardiff City Council is now focused on making the park viable as a venue again.

Cardiff Mardi Gras: a celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities

With the exception of 2008, the Cardiff Mardi Gras has been held every year since its inception in 1999, and is now considered to be one of the largest pride events in the UK. To find out more about both the history of Cardiff Mardi Gras and what’s happening at this year’s event, visit the Cardiff Mardi Gras Website. As you’ll see on their website, since that first event in 1999, the Cardiff Mardi Gras has grown in popularity and attendance figures continue to grow. Over the years Cardiff Mardi Gras has had input and support from many well known celebrities such as John Barrowman and Charlotte Church, and X factor contestants Rylan Clark and Marcus Collins.

At the 2013 event inside the stadium was a community market, various information and advice stalls, a funfair, bars and a youth zone, and a selection of well known performers on the stage, including Beverley Knight (leading UK soul singer). The parade through the town involved over 3000 people with a range of musicians playing, colourful floats and costumes and a general feeling of goodwill.

Cardiff Mardi Gras: political perspectives

The work of the Cardiff Mardi Gras team is ongoing throughout the year. Whilst the visible part of their work is the party in the park, the committee also works throughout the year to champion equality and diversity work and advance the human rights of people from the LGBT community: in 2010 the organisation became a registered charity to further this aim.

The Cardiff Mardi Gras charity is also supporting the LGBT History Cymru project – there’s a link here to an article about LGBT History in Wales

Further images from my shoot can be found on the Cardiff Mardi Gras 2013 pictures: facebook page

Footnote: 19/2/14 –

Date for “Pride Cymru 2014” announced

Lu Thomas
Chair of Cardiff Mardi Gras committee announces re=branding of Cardiff Mardi Gras to “Pride Cymru” and a return to the Coopers Field site for 2014 at LGBT History Month Cymru launch at the Senydd
Pride Cymru: Cardiff Mardi Gras 2014

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