The Sparkle Weekend
Friday 7th - Sunday 9th July 2023
The Sparkle Weekend is the world’s largest free-to-attend celebration of gender diversity, and a safe space for anyone who identifies as gender non-conforming, their families, friends, and allies. In 2019, we welcomed more than 22,000 visitors over the weekend.
The Sparkle Weekend is a festival-style family event, featuring live music and entertainment, talks and workshops, and an opportunity for our corporate sponsors, grassroots charities, and trans-run businesses to engage with our visitors.
We also work with local and national charities who support young trans and gender questioning people and their families so that all age groups feel included.
One of the charity’s core values is that the event remains free-to-attend in order to be accessible to everyone, regardless of gender identity, race, religion, or physical ability.
The Sparkle Weekend currently costs tens-of-thousands of pounds to deliver and is currently funded by companies who share the charity’s values of equality and inclusion for all gender non-conforming individuals, and visitor donations. Sponsorship and donations mean that the Charity can also include smaller grassroots groups who support sub-sectional minorities in the event.
WHAT OUR VISITORS SAY ABOUT THE SPARKLE WEEKEND
“Sparkle is my family, it’s like a reunion with your favourite friends, your community, and it's the highlight of my year!”
“Wow! What can I say? It was just so full of diversity and community spirit. We are looking forward to our next Sparkle Weekend!”
The Sparkle Ball - cancelled for 2023
We are extremely sad to share that this year The Sparkle Ball is cancelled.
2023 has proven a challenging year for the charity, having not fully recovered from the pandemic and been impacted by continuing economic instability.
It has been a very difficult decision to make, recognising that it is letting down so many of you who regard The Sparkle Ball as the signature event of The Sparkle Weekend. We too are very sad by this outcome.
We have a new team who have joined this year with the aim of modernising the charity, expanding our fundraising channels, and securing the future of Sparkle - The National Transgender Charity, while remaining true to our original grassroots experience.
Before we can continue with The Sparkle Ball, we have a responsibility to ensure the charity is once again financially resilient and can withstand future adversity.
We know how disappointed so many of you will be, but hope that you can support our decision to ensure the charity rebuilds after a number of turbulent years. It's important that we see The Sparkle Weekend and associated events continue for the years to come.
The Family & Youth Zone
Research has shown that trans and gender non-conforming children can flourish with the right support.
This is why the Family & Youth Zone, delivered in partnership with other community organisations, is such an important part of the Sparkle Weekend.
It’s not only a safe and supportive space within the event where young trans people can be themselves without being judged or bullied, it’s also at the heart of the Sparkle Weekend – where they can connect with visible trans role models, and discover that you can live a full, exciting and happy life regardless, not in spite, of your gender identity.
Parents and carers of young trans people will also be able to access invaluable advice and information in order to nurture and encourage their young people, and there will be professionals on hand experienced in supporting gender variant children in care and in school.
We have a vibrant and fun-focused weekend, jam-packed with face painters, outdoor games, bouncy castle, indoor craft tables plus our Drama and Dance Party with a fabulous Sparkle Family Picnic on Sunday.
This year we also hope to bring together gender expansive parents for a meet- and-greet session on the Sunday, offering a unique gathering of lived experience and knowledge, whilst our children play and make lifelong friends.
Trans and gender non-conforming children are part of our future. Every trans person was a trans child once – so let’s make the path for them happier, healthier, and safer.
The Wellbeing and Community Zone
Sometimes we need to take a break from the party.
The Wellbeing and Community Zone this year will offer an oasis of calm within the Sparkle Weekend festival, providing a space to come together as a community to share our experiences, learn from each other, and to tap into our sense of wellbeing.
There will be two days of open sessions where you can hear from trans artists, musicians, and writers, whilst also receiving advice on exercising and nutrition, and safe binding techniques.
We hope to welcome presentations from community organisations, to give a platform for their services and expertise as we come out of the pandemic. If your organisation would like to get involved, please email us email@example.com
There will be updates from our main stage team throughout the day, giving you up-to- the-minute information on the programme delivery, so join us in the Sparkle Wellbeing and Community Zone every day from 1pm-5pm.
The Positivi-Tea Dry Space
Following our 2019 event, we asked for feedback from our community to help shape the future of our events.
We noticed a real need for an alcohol-free zone within the Sparkle Weekend, so we have worked in collaboration with a number of local grassroots organisations to deliver a fantastic and safe dry space, offering a cafe, chat, and promoting positive mental health.
So, let’s share some Positivi-Tea!
There will be a range of soft drinks, tea, coffee, and sweet treats available, along with volunteers on hand to chat and provide support; including Manchester Parents Group who will be on hand with their "Hug a Mum Campaign" for anyone feeling isolated or alone who may want a fantastic MUM HUG, or just need to talk.
We hope this new addition will meet the needs of a wider range of community members and will allow families and friends to come together in this space.
Our entire event is a DRUG FREE zone, as we welcome families and those in recovery. Although alcohol is available onsite, there will be a zero-tolerance policy regarding alcohol in the Dry Space.
The Sparkle Weekend aims to be as accessible as possible for all our attendees.
We have spent time speaking to a number of people with varying disabilities about their experiences of previous events, and how our 2023 event could be more welcoming.
Our volunteers and security staff have a range of training available to them in the run up to the event, and each morning before the event opens.
We have a range of accessibility features across the weekend including BSL Signers, Seated Raised Viewing Platform, and a separate Seated Level Access Area in front of the Main Stage, level access to all areas including the Wellbeing Zone, Market Zone, Food and Drink Zone, Family & Youth Zone and Dry Space.
We have booked a number of disabled toilets and are in the final stages of booking a changing places facility within our event space, offering a better level of accessibility to guests with complex access needs.
As we are situated in a public park, there is mixed terrain such as concrete, tarmac, soil, woodchip and grass. Every effort will be made to ensure the site is fully accessible, however, extreme weather may be beyond our control.
We have increased our number of portable ramps for easier access, and introduced both adult and child ear defenders for visitors with sensory needs.
We welcome performers across all abilities, and our stage booked will include step-free access, non-slip handrails, and assistance will be on hand for all performers.
The LGBT Foundation will be partnering with Sparkle to offer a dedicated changing area for our guests, and these facilities will include an accessible toilet.
Assistance and service dogs, including those in training, are welcome throughout the Sparkle Weekend. Please note, however, that pet dogs are also in attendance at this event and may not have been trained.
Water bowls and shaded areas will be available for your canine companions in the Main Stage area, Wellbeing Zone and Dry Space Cafe. You might even find our friendly volunteers have dog treats too!
Local Events Listings
As we get closer to the Sparkle Weekend, we will be providing information on local events across Manchester's Gay Village and the City Centre, giving you the greatest choice possible of local venues this Sparkle Weekend!
If you are a local venue who wants to list your event/s here, contact us with details on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be in touch very soon.
"I have always attended Pride Events across the country, but this was my 1st time at a Sparkle Weekend. The Love is thick in the air, this is inspirational"