Guide To The Twin Cities Pride Festival

June 16, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

Twin Cities Pride Festival
Loring Park
1382 Willow St.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 836-4830

Hours: Sat, June 23 – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., 5:30 concert headline show; Sun, June 24 – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: free

The 40th annual Twin Cities Pride Festival, one of the largest LGBT celebrations in the country, promises a full weekend of pride. Expect more than 100,000 participants on any given day at the festival, but the big event every year is, by far, the Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade. From the Beer Dabbler to the Pride Boat Cruise, this is one weekend in the Twin Cities not to be missed.

As with all major downtown events, parking will be at a premium during the festival and parade. Metered parking is plentiful but fills up quickly. Come early, prepared with lots of quarters or a credit card to swipe. Park to the north of Loring Park and to the west of the Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Do not park in the lot on Hennepin Avenue by the parade start or along 3rd street before or during the parade. Click here for metro routes that run right up to the festival.


(credit: Thinkstock)

Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade
Hennepin Avenue, downtown Minneapolis
Hours: Sun, June 24 – 11 a.m.
Price: free/click here for the VIP experience

Named for former organizer and transgender LGBT activist Ashley Rukes, the largest Minneapolis parade each year follows Hennepin Avenue through the heart of downtown. Celebrating all things LGBT in the upper Midwest, this year’s parade is expected to draw in more than 125,000 participants and observers once again. VIP ticket purchasers also enjoy drinks, food and front-row seats.

Pride Boat Cruise
St. Croix River
Stillwater, MN

Time: Sat, June 16 – 12:30 p.m. boarding; sails at 1 p.m.
Price: $35 per person in advance

The Boys Present!’s Twin Cities Pride Rainbow Raft cruise on the beautiful St. Croix River offers tons of bang for pride partiers’ buck. Party, meet new friends and celebrate the upcoming festival while cruising through the St. Croix River Valley. This always sold-out three-hour paddle-wheel sailing trip provides complimentary snacks with ticket purchase as well as a cash bar. Participants must be at least 21 years of age.

(credit: Thinkstock)

Twin Cities Pride Annual Picnic
Como Park

1225 Estabrook Dr.
Saint Paul, MN 55103
(651) 487-8200

Date: Sun, June 17 – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Price: free

Mingle, socialize, meet new friends and see old ones at this relaxing and fun get-together for LGBT folks, their friends, kids and families at the east picnic pavilions here. This popular pre-festival get together offers free food, free admission and no advance sign-up requirement. Take advantage of all that beautiful Como Park has to offer including the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Beer Dabbler

(credit: Thinkstock)

Loring Park

Hours: Fri, June 22 – 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Price: $35 advance/$45 day of

This new event is the perfect way to kick-off pride weekend. There will be 20 exciting and delicious Minnesota craft beers to sample, along with some of Minnesota’s favorite snacks, served up from 20 of the area’s best food trucks. With a beautiful, outdoors setting in Loring Park, this is the perfect supplement to the weekend’s pride-filled fun.

(credit: Thinkstock)

Rainbow Run
Northeast Minneapolis, MN

Hours: Sun, June 24 – 10 a.m.
Click here for registration

This fun run 5K includes prizes for best bride, best groom and best wedding party. All race participants will receive a Rainbow Run T-shirt and goody bag. There’s no need to be in particularly great shape to participate as there will be runners and walkers enjoying this fun event. Expect costumed runners tearing up the pavement from Northeast Minneapolis, down the Parade route to Loring Park.

Twin Cities Pride Art Exhibition
Aloft Hotel

900 S. Washington Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Dates: Fri, June 8 to Mon, June 25
Price: free/cash bar

This year’s annual free exhibit is focused on the color red, celebrating the festival’s 40-year anniversary. Rotating pieces displaying pride artistically will be on display in the hotel’s lobby throughout the exhibit. June 8 at 5:30 p.m., stop by for the 2012 Grand Marshal’s Reception, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and live music by Jazz Front Trio.


(credit: Loring Kitchen & Bar/Facebook)

Loring Kitchen & Bar
1359 Willow Street
(612) 843-0400

Serving delicious, contemporary food in a trendy atmosphere, LK & B is a great neighborhood spot for lunch and dinner open seven days a week for every meal. Valet parking is available curbside, which is probably a good idea to make use of during the festival, as metered street parking will be hard to come by. Willow Street borders Loring Park on the east side.

Dunn Bros. Coffee Shop
329 W. 15th Street
(612) 872-4410

If you’re looking for a cup of java or a cold refreshing drink during the festival, Dunn Bros. is right across the street on the south side of Loring Park. Light snacks are available, as well as great baked goods. This is the perfect neighborhood spot to rest your legs after exploring the exhibits in the park.

Cafe Lurcat/Bar Lurcat
1624 Harmon Place
(612) 486-5500

This upscale D’Amico restaurant serves sophisticated comfort food and is also popular for late-night dining. Whether you are seeking a relaxing dinner with some serious food, or plan to share a bottle of wine and a few small plates, dining at Cafe Lurcat is a memorable experience. Its dessert collection is second to none, but nothing beats sipping a dessert wine with the cafe’s fine artisan cheeses. Located in the historic Fawkes Building on the north side of Loring Park, valet parking is available at the front door.

New York City native Marc Friedman has called the Twin Cities home for nearly 30 years. His urban upbringing has him constantly exploring Minneapolis and St. Paul for locally owned dining spots and neighborhood shops. Marc’s passions include travel, an industry which he has worked in his entire career, indie movies, a strong cup of tea with milk (his Mom is from England), dark chocolate, red wine and the Daily Show. His work can be found at