From historic parades and colorful street art to massive festivals and star-studded concerts, California honors Pride in a big way. In fact, California was the first state in the country to designate June as its official LGBTQ+ Pride Month in 2018.
It’s no surprise that California’s history of LGBTQ+ activism runs deep: The first LGBTQ+ business association was founded here in 1962; Laguna Beach was the first city in the U.S. to elect an openly gay mayor; and the iconic rainbow flag was even designed in San Francisco. Each year, California cities honor this legacy—and you have plenty of opportunities to join in the fun. Here’s a travel guide for anyone looking to celebrate LGBTQ+ history and culture at one of the many Pride festivals and events throughout the state.
Every year, more than 20,000 visitors descend on Sacramento for the city’s two-day SacPride. On June 10–11, the Capitol Mall transforms into a buzzing entertainment zone with food vendors and musical performances from stars like Rebecca Black as well as local talent. On Sunday, honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots at the Pride March. Watch colorful floats and musical acts make their way from Southside Park to the State Capitol—or pre-register to join the march yourself.
The 38th annual Sonoma County Pride theme is “Community” to honor the power of diversity and belonging. On June 1, the city raises its flag to kick off the festivities, which run from June 2–4. Centered in Santa Rosa, the three days of fun include a Pride Movie Night, annual Pride Parade, Wigs and Waffles Drag Brunch, and Aqua Boogie Pool Party. Keep the good times going with OutWatch Wine Country’s LGBTQI Film Festival(June 9–11) in Sebastopol, as well as special winemaker dinners and tours, all part of Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, July 14–16.
San Francisco Pride made “Looking Back and Moving Forward” the 2023 theme for this massive annual festival on June 24–25. Head to Civic Center Plaza to see live concerts, comedy acts, and cabaret performances on the main stage, and take part in Sunday’s Pride Parade, which starts near the Embarcaderoand ends on the steps of City Hall. Admire the annual Pink Triangle installed on Twin Peaks commemorating the LGBTQ+ victims of the Holocaust—a reminder of how far we’ve come.
Explore more events throughout the Bay Area, including the stunning Ribbons of Remembrance rainbow flag display at Filoli in Woodside on June 3–4; the popular Fresh Meat Festival, featuring trans and queer artists performing in different corners of the 13,000-square-foot Z Space in the Mission from June 14–18; and Frameline47: The San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, running from June 14–24. Sausalito is also hosting its first Pride celebration June 9–July 2, which includes Pride Not Prejudice, an exhibit that will celebrate queer culture through a collection of vintage photographs, as well as reliquaries and film, at the Sausalito Center for the Arts. Also planned is an outdoor concert with Banda Sin Nombre, a group that combines folk music with performance art, drag, and dance.
For all you need to know about where to celebrate Pride Month on the San Francisco Peninsula, including events at the Filoli House and Garden, San Mateo, and Half Moon Bay, check out this article.
Get the party early in San Luis Obispo with events throughout the month of May—including Art After Dark on May 5 at SLOMA and the Trans Pride on May 27 in Meadow Park—all culminating in a colorful three-day celebration on the first weekend of June. At Central Coast Pride, June 2–4, you’ll find a Friday Burlesque & Drag Show at the Fremont Theatre, plenty of music and fun on the main stage at Saturday’s Pridefest, and even more performances at the Pride Parade and Pride in the Plaza, both held on Sunday.
Los Angeles was the first city in the world to host a permitted gay pride parade, and you can experience history in action with the 53rd annual event on June 9–10. See music icons Megan Thee Stallion (Friday) and Mariah Carey (Saturday) perform at Pride in the Park in Los Angeles State Historic Park, or watch 145,000 or so revelers dance on fabulous floats down Hollywood Boulevard during the parade.
In West Hollywood, attend WeHo Pride on June 2–4 for a street fair and music festival OUTLOUD with performances from Grace Jones and Carly Rae Jepsen. The WeHo Pride Arts Festival also runs through the entire month, featuring a book bazaar, a craft market, a drag parade, and screenings by LGBTQ+ filmmakers.
From Dana Point, Newport Beach, Long Beach, or San Pedro, you can hop across the water to stunning Catalina Island for Catalina Pride on June 24. Head to Avalon for live entertainment on Wrigley Stage, the Pride March to Casino Point, and a rainbow lighting of the historic Catalina Casino.
Orange County has long been a premier destination for LGBTQ+ tourism, and that’s never more true than during OC Pride on June 25, held in downtown Santa Ana. Watch world-class performances and drag shows from stars like Mexican singer Ninel Conde and Morgan Michaels from Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Disney fans won’t want to miss a nearby celebration held in Anaheim. For the first time ever, Disneyland Park will host Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite. On June 13 and 15 from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., guests can enjoy special after-hours access and entertainment. Get your groove on at the Rivers of America Dance Party, watch Minnie Mouse march during the Pride Cavalcade, and try a variety of fun themed eats.
This year, Fresno’s June 3 Rainbow Pride event has been dubbed the “Qu33r All Year” festival in recognition of its 33rd anniversary. The family-friendly parade of floats from more than 90 participating businesses and organizations begins at 10 a.m., and a $5 donation at the gate grants you access to live music, more than 100 vendors of food and merchandise, a beer garden, a children’s play area and more.
Santa Ynez Valley is kicking off their inaugural SYV Pride Month celebration at Future Perfect Wine in Los Olivos on June 1. The fun continues with a Sip n’ Slay wine tasting on June 2 at Carhartt, weekly “Gayroake” each Thursday at The Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez, a Tie-Dye Pride-a-Palooza with Arts Outreach, and more. The main event is a parade in downtown Solvang on Saturday, June 24—floats, families, roller skates, and puppies are all welcome—followed by a party in Solvang Park. Unwind at the Silent Disco on June 30 at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley.
In California, Pride is celebrated in spirit all year round—and some cities have full-blown festivities outside of June. San Diego Pride is planning a slate of events July 8–16, including the women-centered She Fest, Pride 5K, Spirit of Stonewall Rally, and a thrilling two-day festival in Balboa Park.
Laguna Beach will party on the sand August 12–13 with a dedication of the new Rainbow Lifeguard Tower of Diversity, while Oakland will host a parade as well as its family-friendly Carnival and Fun Fair September 9–10. Greater Palm Springs Pride will hold celebrations November 3–5. Listen to DJs spin at the Arenas District Block Party and watch the iconic Pride Parade and Festival along Palm Canyon Drive.