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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 February, 2003, 15:55 GMT
Hyde Park to host gay festival
London's Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras went bankrupt in 1997 and 1998
One of London's royal parks will host the country's biggest gay festival for the first time this summer.

Up to 60,000 people are expected to attend Pride in the Park, the festival formerly known as Mardi Gras, in Hyde Park on 26 July.

It will mean a central London location for the carnival, which has been blighted by financial problems.

Last year's venue switch from Finsbury Park to Hackney Marshes proved unpopular and left organisers with debts of nearly 500,000.

This summer will be the first time the festival has been held in one of the royal parks and organisers hope to keep the venue and build up an annual event to rival Sydney's Mardi Gras.

The colourful parade by gay rights campaigners will start at Embankment and go past the Houses of Parliament before ending up at Hyde Park.

We can begin building it up into a major tourist attraction and one day we will hopefully be able to excel what they have in Sydney
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London
Entrance to the party will cost 20 in an attempt to recoup some of the 1.5m spent putting on the event.

Mardi Gras Organisation chairman John Miskelly said: "No one will make a profit from this. This is not for personal profit.

"The parade is free and the party is as cheap as we can make it. It is still cheaper than similar parties in the world. In Sydney it cost 90."

London Mayor Ken Livingstone supported the move to a central London location.

He said: "I believe that this is now here in the park for generations to come.

"We can begin building it up into a major tourist attraction and one day we will hopefully be able to excel what they have in Sydney."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC London's Julie Gatenby
"This year's prime location should swell the coffers"



SEE ALSO:
Mardi Gras survives debt crisis
22 Aug 02 |  England


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