Families from across the LGBTQ+ community are being invited to picnic with Pride at a special event this weekend.

On Sunday 9 June, Out North East – organiser of the month long Pride in Sunderland programme – is holding a free family picnic from 12 noon to 4pm, at the city’s Sunniside Gardens.

And all ages are invited for an afternoon of music, activities, market stalls and stories.

There will be a mini-Pride for children, along with rides, games and food vendors and a competition for the best fancy dress costume and families are also invited to bring their own picnics.

“It’ll be a great chance for families of all ages to celebrate Pride with each other and have what promises to be a fun afternoon for all ages,” said Peter Darrant, chair of Out North East.

The organisation has partnered with Sunderland BID, Stagecoach, Sunderland AFC and Foundation of Light for the event, which is part of a programme of free Pride activities in the city throughout June.

This includes performances from international music acts, film screenings and an important exhibition showcasing the Rainbow Flag as highlights of Sunderland’s biggest ever Pride.

And the programme will culminate on 29 June with a march through the city, to the Sunniside Gardens arena – in the area to the east which runs parallel with Fawcett Street -for a Pride in the City concert, headlined by international boy band, East 17.

Although Pride is a celebration, organisers are keen to ensure that the real message behind the event is not lost and with that in mind, a Flag in the Map exhibition will be running throughout June.

Sunderland University is also running a Pride Film Festival at Pop Flix community cinema, with a number of quizzes, coffee mornings, talks and heritage projects also planned at a variety of venues.

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID, which is supporting Pride in Sunderland, said the successful application made to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to help revitalise Sunniside, meant some of the money received could support Pride.

“This will be the biggest Pride festival Sunderland has held so far,” she said, “and families are at the heart of that, so the free picnic really is a highlight of the programme.

“It’s perfect timing as well, as the event is on the final day of the Sunderland Food and Drink Festival so there’s even more reason to visit the city centre.”

Steve Walker, Managing Director of Stagecoach said the company was delighted to be supporting the event.

“Pride in Sunderland is going to be a huge event this year and we are delighted to be sponsoring the family picnic, which will be a day for everyone to enjoy and come together for a real celebration,” he said.

“This is all about community which aligns perfectly with Stagecoach’s values – we not only see ourselves as an important part of the local community but also at our heart is our commitment to working towards creating a safer, healthier and fairer country.

“We are sure the picnic is going to be a fantastic day and we hope as many people as possible attend.”

The Pride family picnic will take place between 12 noon and 4pm and dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead.

Further information about the programme of Pride activities this summer can be found at www.outnortheast.org.uk or by following social media @outnortheast