Brighton Pride will be held this Saturday and organisers are asking revellers to help keep the festival free by donating money.
The event, which has been running since 1992, has been plagued by financial problems and organisers hope to raise £40,000 on the day.
Last year, Brighton Pride announced a £50,000 budget deficit and the 2009 festival was described by organisers as “a bad year” in financial terms. In November, they admitted the festival was not paying for itself.
Around 150,000 people are expected to join Saturday’s fun and spokeswoman Judith Manson urged them to remember the “community spirit” of the event, which is Britain’s largest free Pride. It costs more than £250,000 to stage.
She told PinkNews.co.uk “We’ve got to raise a hell of a lot of money on the day – £40,000. It is doable. We’ve got a military-style approach to it this year with more collectors and supervising teams.”
For the first time, revellers will be asked to make a suggested donation of £5 to enter the dance tent and lanyards with maps and information will cost £2. They can also donate to Brighton Pride by text or online.
Ms Manson said: “If people like what they see and want to keep the festival free to enter, we’re asking them to put their hands in their pockets.”
Saturday is expected to see some rain, which she said could hinder fundraising efforts. But she added that she did not believe bad weather would put visitors off.
She said: “I’m not going to take any notice of the forecast until the day. Obviously we hope it will be sunny. We’re praying for sunshine as we had rain in the afternoon last year and rain in the morning in 2008.”
She added: “A lot of people think this is the best Pride in the country and a lot tell us it is. It’s the biggest free Pride. We’ve got a fantastic atmosphere and there’s so much to do. People can drink on the grass, they can shop, dance or see all the community events such as the families and multi-faith area.
“There’s a real community spirit to the festival. We do have corporate sponsors, of course, but they aren’t plastered in your face like at other Prides.”
Pride’s theme this year is ‘Pride and (No) Prejudice’ with some marchers dressing up in Victorian garb. Fifty-five groups will join the parade, which will set off from Madeira Drive at 11am on Saturday.
Following the march, a party will be held in Preston Park with dance acts, DJs, cabaret performances and stalls, plus a new multi-faith area.