Rhode Island State House in Providence, lit in rainbow for pride

Big stateside metropolises like New York and San Francisco hog the Pride spotlight, and for good reason: The parties are massive, and the LGBTQIA+ history runs deep. However, plenty of small to mid-sized cities around the country offer just-as-noteworthy celebrations, all with big energy — plus smaller crowds. Here are 11 of our favorites.

Rhode Island PrideFest, Providence

Born out of a 75-person march in 1976 — which state and city leaders unsuccessfully attempted to block — Rhode Island Pride beacons the community in and around the Ocean State. The 46th PrideFest and Illuminated Night Parade begins at noon on June 18 in Providence Innovation District Park. The event is expected to attract more than 100,000 revelers. 

ROC Pride, Rochester, New York

New York's third-largest city may seem like an unlikely gay destination, but Rochester, the hometown of three RuPaul's Drag Race contestants, has a large and storied gay community. Some say it dates back to the prime Eastman Kodak era of the 1950s, when George Eastman and many of his colleagues were rumored to be in the closet with the door open. One thing is for sure: 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of ROC Pride, which unlike most, takes place in mid-July. Pride week kicks off with the ROC Pride Picnic on July 10 and concludes with a parade and festival on July 16. 

Baltimore Pride, Maryland 

Beyond its annual Pride Parade and Block Party, Baltimore Pride offers the Twilight on the Terrace Gala, Youth Pride, Pride in the Park, and many more happenings. From its small peaceful demonstration inception in 1975, Baltimore Pride has grown into a city-wide tradition that brings over 50,000 people together. This year's fun begins on June 20.

GayDays and Come Out with Pride Orlando, Florida

Central Florida serves up a double dose of pride every year. GayDays, this year held from May 31 to June 6 at Avanti Palms Resort Orlando, started in 1991 when a reported 50,000 from the LGBTQIA+ community wore red shirts and packed into the major theme parks. 

Orlando's biggest pride event of the year, Come Out with Pride, coincides with National Coming Out Day in October. While the exact timeline of events has yet to be announced, there will be a massive parade, pre- and post-parade parties, a fireworks display, a 5K Drag Race run, a leather pride night, and more. 

Central Alabama Pride, Birmingham

From June 24, 1979 — the date of the first "Day in the Park" — Central Alabama Pride (CAP) has grown into a week-long celebration, drawing an estimated 20,000 attendees. The culmination of the week's festivities, the 2022 Pride Parade, will step off from the corner of 32nd Street South and 7th Avenue South at sunset on June 11.

Pride parade in Columbus, Ohio / Larry Hamill for Experience Columbus

Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival, Ohio

From a humble group of 200 who made up the first organized pride gathering in 1981, Stonewall Columbus Pride has expanded into one of the largest celebrations in the Midwest, attracting upwards of 700,000 visitors. With 15 LGBTQ+ bars to choose from — including the new nightclub, District West, and one of the only lesbian bars in the country, Slammers — the weekend of June 17 is sure to be a party-packed one.

PrideSTL, St. Louis

In 1980, hundreds gathered for the lesbians and Gays Walk for Charity, which ran from Central West End to Washington University. Thus began the tradition of PrideSTL, running over 30 years strong. After a hiatus from COVID-19, PrideFest returns on June 25 to 26 with a roster of local and world-renowned entertainers, including Deborah Cox. 

Boise Pride Festival, Idaho

Historically held in June, last year's pride was pushed back to September due to the pandemic — and thus, a new tradition was born. Boise Pride Festival will take place September 9 through 11 in Cecil D. Andrus Park. Details have yet to be announced, but if this year's event is anything like the prior, visitors will be treated to a fireworks show to celebrate the lighting of the Idaho State Capitol building in rainbow hues. Live entertainment (from the likes of Trixie Mattel and Kylie Sonique Love) will take place at the main outdoor stage, and the city's main gay establishment, The Balcony Club, will host nightly dance parties.

Northern Nevada Pride, Reno

Northern Nevada's only pride festival is organized annually by the Our Center, a non-profit that works to establish and maintain a safe, empowering, and supportive center addressing advocacy, education, and services for the local community. On July 23, the mile-long CommUNITY Pride Parade will run through Reno from Fifth and Virginia Street to Island Drive. Catch performances, events, and vendors at Wingfield Park.

Wine Country Pride, Willamette Valley, Oregon

The 2022 Street Fair, yoga, and a drag brunch starring Miss Gay Oregon 2021 are just a few of the events on the docket for Wine Country Pride. The non-profit organization brings celebrations across greater Portland's rural wine country. Queer Wine Fest, billed as the world's first, is arguably the highlight of all the June happenings. Queer-owned, queer-made, and queer-grown wines will come together on June 24 at Remy Wines for wine tasting, culinary pairings, and live music.

Long Beach Pride™, California

Launched in 1984, Long Beach Pride™ is the Golden State's third-largest pride festival, taking place in July. Iggy Azalea and Paulina Rubio will headline this year's lineup, which also includes local DJs, drag queens, and artists. In addition to the main event, a Teen Pride festival brings LGBTQ+ teens in the area together for live performances and dancing.  

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