Manchester will be celebrating its LGBT community in style at the city’s annual Pride festival this weekend.

This year visitors can party at venues on Canal Street in the city’s gay village for 78 hours straight as part of the Manchester Pride Big Weekend, which runs from Friday 24th to Monday 27th August.

The main stage at the Big Weekend will feature performances from the Gossip, Belinda Carlisle and Gareth Gates.

The opening of the big weekend on Friday will feature a civil partnership ceremony for ten couples at Marriott Victoria Albert Hotel.

Andrew Stokes, chairman of Manchester Pride, told PinkNews.co.uk:” Yet again, Manchester Pride is leading where others will follow.

The group civil ceremony will be a highlight of the festival and a fantastic start to the ‘Big Weekend’, not to mention a very memorable day for the ten couples actually taking part.”

On the Saturday the Pride Parade will follow a route through the heart of the city, while on Sunday the Village Hall hosts Women’s Space- entertainment just for women from singers, poets, comedians and bands.

Acts confirmed so far include Manchester band Geek Girl; cabaret performer Rosie Lugosi and compere and singer Claire Mooney.

The closing event of the Big Weekend is a candlelit vigil in Sackville Park on Monday night to remember and celebrate the lives of those affected by HIV.

There will be a variety of readings, poems and music based around the theme of remembrance.

Tickets for the Big Weekend cost £15. Jackie Crozier, festival manager of Manchester Pride, told PinkNews.co.uk: “The money raised from the sale of tickets to the event will allow Manchester Pride to continue to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups and charities on a number of projects across Greater Manchester.”

Other highlights of the festival, which spans ten days, include free entrance to the Kylie exhibition at the Manchester Galleries up until 3rd September and Never Forget at the Manchester Opera House, an original stage play featuring the music of Take That.

Acclaimed Manchester theatre group MaD will also be performing their new play She’s Just Nipped Out For Fags at the Library Theatre over the Pride weekend.

A spokesperson for MaD told PinkNews.co.uk: “This new play has a strong gay theme and is on over the Pride Bank Holiday weekend, and as such is a different take on the usual Pride stories.

“In it the drag queen next door (real life drag queen Miss Jay from the New Union) steps in to help look after the kids when their mum Pat Pickles… just nips out for fags.

“And it’s all staged with brilliant backdrops from leading Manchester photographer Paul Cliff, who recently made a photographic study of drag queens, currently on display at the New Union as part of Pride.”