When Pride comes to town: The economic impact of Pride events

Sarah Conlisk - May 23, 2024

The first Pride events date back to June 1970, when people gathered in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Since then, Pride events have become annual occasions for the queer community to come together — and they continue to expand and grow in numbers each year. 

Pride events aren’t just great for celebrants; they’re great for host cities as well — at least judging by Lyft data, which shows a remarkable increase in ride activity during Pride parades. In the chart below, you can see the 31% “Pride effect” for San Diego in 2023, by comparing the number of rides on last year’s Pride parade day (Saturday, July 15) to the Saturdays before and after. Indeed, San Diego’s parade has historically been the largest single-day event in the city, attracting visitors from each state and generating an estimated $30 million in economic impact.

The Pride effect

In fact, almost all U.S. cities experience a Pride parade–related bump in rideshare activity. The figure below shows that the average effect across 15 cities with popular Pride events is a remarkable 13% (for context, the average impact on a city when Taylor Swift comes to town is 7.6%).

San Diego gets the biggest bump, perhaps because its parade is in July, while most others are in June, meaning San Diego Pride is less likely to compete with other cities for attendees. But Seattle also experienced a Pride effect of over 30%, even in June, with roughly 300,000 people coming out for last year’s galactic love–themed parade.  

Chicago, on the other hand, did not witness an increase in average ride activity during its Pride parade (digging into the data, Beyoncé’s Renaissance World tour, which took place one month later and attracted lots of riders, can explain the relative dip).

Fastest-growing Pride cities

Lyft data can also shed light on the fastest-growing Pride events in America. 

The chart below shows the cities with the greatest percent increase in rideshare activity, from 2018 Pride to 2023 Pride. While NYC remains a hot spot, attendance at the celebrations in Providence, Baltimore, and Houston have increased significantly in the past couple of years.