Proud to live in Oxfordshire

Proud to live in Oxfordshire

Wherever you live in the county, somewhere over the rainbow, there's a Pride celebration near you. It might be low key or it might be a bright splashy parade. And it's all year round, not just for one day.

Quietly or loudly, groups of LGBTQ+ activists work year round to make our county a more inclusive place to live. In the run-up to Pride month in June, we at the Clarion take some time to celebrate this, report on what's coming up – and hope that you, like we, are proud to live in a county that does so.

The census of 2021 was the first time a question around sexual orientation was asked. In Oxfordshire 88.4% of the county identified as straight or heterosexual, very slightly lower than the national average of 89.4%.

Oxford has the highest concentration of trans people outside of London. It has an openly gay Lord Mayor. The city has long had a thriving queer scene, as the fascinating Queer Oxford chronicles. Did you know that in the 1970s, just opposite what is now the New Theatre, was the Clarendon tea rooms – which operated as a tea room by day, but transformed itself into 1970s gay disco glory by night? By law the venue had to serve food as well as alcohol, so attendees were served bangers and mash later on in the evening.

Times have moved on. While nowhere is entirely free of prejudice, Oxford is not a bad place to be. And the county is changing too, with more and more places running Pride events. Here's our roundup: all of them will be joyful, and all of them are safe and inclusive spaces.

Oxford Pride

Saturday 8th June, Castle Quarter
(Dog Show on Sunday 2nd June, with categories including Waggiest Tail and Sassiest Senior)

This one's the big one, the daddy if you will. The organisation behind this says:

We believe that Pride is all year round, not just for one day. We put on events in safe and inclusive spaces throughout the year that include all of our LGBTQIA+ community.

The Pride Festival and Pride Day, with the Parade through our beautiful city, is an important opportunity for us to come together and highlight the inequalities we face and celebrate the milestones we have achieved.

Oxford Pride is dedicated to promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion. We strive to eliminate barriers, foster respect, and create a strong sense of community, belonging, and visibility for everyone – we invite you to join us.

The highlight of this is the parade. Hundreds of people, bedecked in rainbows, parade through Oxford, ending in a giant party in the Castle Quarter. There is music, dancing, street food, bars and many community stalls: LGBTQ+ charities, fostering, political parties, employer outreach.

Oxford Pride 20th Anniversary Parade 2023. Source: Oxford Pride Youtube.

‌But perhaps you do not want the razzmatazz of the big parade and the giant party? Or maybe you just want somewhere nearer home? Across Oxfordshire there are events throughout Pride month in June, as well, of course, as during the rest of the year.

Witney Pride

Saturday 25th May, the Leys Recreation Ground
(Parade starting at Marriott’s Walk)

The organisers say:

Pride Festival Day will be held on The Leys Recreational Ground in Witney after the Parade arrives. We encourage the community to come together and enjoy an afternoon of live entertainment, community stalls, food and drink and commercial traders. All LGBTQ people and allies are welcome to join the parade.

Chipping Norton Pride

Saturday 1st June, Town Hall and Topside, 10-4pm
(After-party at the Town Hall from 7.30)

Chipping Norton held its first pride event in 2023, and it's back this year. The organisers say:

On 1st June 2024 Chipping Norton Town Hall and Topside car park will become a dynamic and colourful marketplace with performance, music and the arts. This year, with the inspirational and exciting motto of ‘express yourself’, we are looking to bring the town alive with creativity as well as a focus on the continuing story for liberation and equality.

Didcot Pride

Events throughout June

Didcot Pride’s Facebook page lists various events through June – from ‘Fruit Cakes, a queer meet up’ at Cornerstone Arts to a pride picnic at the Northern Neighbourhood Community Centre on 23rd June. There are ‘Laugh Out Loud Proud’ events at the Cornerstone Arts Centre, and the very lovely 'Silver Pride'  events: these offer support and friendship to older members of the LGBTQ+  community, providing a relaxed, safe space to meet and make new friends.

We have serious badge envy. Source: Didcot Pride Facebook page.

Banbury Pride

Friday 31st May–Sun 2nd June

Banbury is holding its first ever Pride event this year!

Join us on Butchers Row for Banbury's first Pride weekend! We're putting on a fantastic weekend of activities for all ages, with live music, quizzes, karaoke, drag queens, street performances - plus a visit from Hooky's own Pride Unicorns!

Abingdon Pride

Saturday 29th June (from 1pm)

Pride flag flying proudly over Abingdon town hall. Source:

Abingdon has taken a while to show its Pride face to the world, so deserves extra celebration this year. The then Town Council opposed flying the flag in two separate votes in 2016, despite petitions from residents challenging this. In 2019 the council changed: the newly elected councillors made a unanimous decision to fly the Rainbow Flag from Abingdon’s County Hall in support of Oxford Pride, and the first Pride event was run. This year there is an Abingdon Pride Queer Community Picnic on 29th June from 1pm.

Bicester Pride

Saturday 17th September, Garth Park, 2pm-10pm

This is a ticketed, family-friendly event. The organisers say highlights will include  Freddie Mercury and Lady GaGa tributes, plus food and drink, Pride stalls and a face painter. You are advised to book tickets early as last year was a sell out.

And finally

Oxfordshire will be brightened by rainbows throught the summer. Perhaps you are an ally but have never attended a Pride event before? A reminder: you’re a (welcome) guest at the (wonderful) party. The Clarion recommends you go have a look at these excellent tips from Manchester Pride on how to enjoy yourself with respect to all those around.

We hope everyone attending any of these events has an awesome time. We salute all the organisers and all those activists who work so hard day in, day out, to make this county a more inclusive and generally more fabulous place.

Thanks to friends of the Clarion for reviewing this piece. Any mistakes that remain are ours and ours alone, and we thank them, and you, our readers, for your patience.