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Vying with the Notting Hill festivities as the Bank Holiday's most happening party is The Village Charity's Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras in Manchester. Thousands of gay and gay-friendly revellers from all over the country are taking to the streets and partying without prejudice in a four-day fund-raising frenzy in aid for HIV and Aids projects in the North.

Flamboyant floats, funfairs and fancy dress promise to fill Canal Street amid stages hosting a plethora of cabaret, comedy and campery. The Performance Stage, sponsored by Kiss, is the focal point where DJs Carl Cox, Judge Jules and Graeme Park will be spinning their tunes. Special guests and bands have been kept secret, but to whet your appetite, former guests have included Boy George, Lily Savage and Julian Clary.

This year's main event is the King and Queens competition where the gay glitterati will be strutting their flouncy stuff in the hope of winning a trip to America's gay capital, San Francisco.

The weekend climaxes tomorrow with the Freedom Gala, a 12-hour extravaganza for 20,000 revellers in the G-Mex Centre. Loud music, more than 50 stalls, swimming pools, laser shows, go-go dancers and drag queens are guaranteed.

Meanwhile, Bank Holiday Monday is reserved for the Vigil, a more sober affair where candles are lit in remembrance of those who have died from Aids- related diseases.

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