LGBT Georgians will flock to Savannah this Halloween weekend to celebrate Pride in the coastal city as well known for its ghost tours as its queer history.

“Halloween has historically been a major holiday on the gay calendar,” said festival director Dusty Church. “It’s called the Gay Christmas and the Gay High Holiday. All the major Halloween events across the country originated in the gayborhoods. This is our way of reclaiming it.”

The 18th annual Savannah Pride Festival, which runs October 26-28, features drag-queen-guided trolley tours, a gala to raise funds for the recently opened Savannah LGBT Center, a “Masqueerade” ball, a transgender issues panel, an LGBT history exhibit, a social justice presentation from Mayor Edna Jackson and a concert by Grammy-winning recording artist Estelle, best known for her duet with Kanye West, “American Boy.” The weekend wraps up with an afterparty at Ghost Coast Distillery at 10 p.m. on Oct. 28.

“We are piggy-backing on their haunted distillery tour and turning that into a grand finale party. It should be a fun and exciting night for everyone,” Church enthused.

For the first time in years, Savannah Pride is hosting the main event downtown in Ellis Square with no admission charge. In recent years, the festival was held in the Forsyth neighborhood gated off from the general public.

Church explained, “With the federal government chipping away at our rights, it’s time to make a bold statement. By bringing the event downtown, we are demanding to be visible and part of the larger community. This is the first time in years that the festival will be free and open to the public, so it’s hard to estimate, but we expect one of the largest crowds in years. We have heard from people from all over the Southeast anxious to visit Savannah.”

Festival organizers say their city is welcoming and they expect the event to go off without a hitch. “From its founding, Savannah has been a city of tolerance and diversity. The LGBTQ community has always been an integral part of its uniqueness,” said Church. “The mayor, the city council and our local visitors bureau are all actively supportive of the community. As in years past, we expect the event to be a day of fun without incident.”

Also, if you’re doing Savannah Pride this weekend, keep an eye out for your friendly Georgia Voice reporter — we’ll be covering the event and taking pictures the entire weekend!

Savannah Pride Event Schedule

Masqueerade

7:30-11 p.m. Oct. 26 at The Mansion on Forsyth Park, 700 Drayton St. Tickets are $30, $15 for students with ID.

LGBT Center Gala, Pacci After Dark

Oct. 27 with all proceeds/donations benefiting the Savannah LGBT Center, 1515 Bull St. Pacci After Dark is an exclusive VIP All-Access party at Pacci at The Brice Hotel, 601 E. Bay St.

Pride in Savannah: Downtown Takeover

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at Ellis Square. Estelle concert at 2:45 p.m. Free admission; ticketed VIP Lounge; $5 wristband for downtown business discounts.

Bootleg Spirits After Party

10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Oct. 28 at Ghost Coast Distillery, 641 Indian St. Tickets are $20, ages 21 and older.

For more info and to purchase tickets for special events, visit PrideSavannah.com.

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