Bears, cubs and more furry beefcakes ready for Atlanta Bear Pride

Winter is a memory, and Atlanta Bear Pride is coming out and coming for you this weekend. The annual festival packs its schedule with gay men, parties at multiple venues, food, booze and music from Friday night all the way until the wee hours of Monday morning.

“Atlanta Bear Pride is a celebration, a celebration of bears and bear lovers from all over the world, coming together to express their pride of whom they are,” says Alan Collins, general manager of Heretic and cofounder of Bear Pride.

“It is also an invitation for others to step out of their comfort zone and get to know a different culture within our community,” Collins adds. “The bears are a welcoming, friendly, loving group of guys that just want to have a good time.”

Now in its fourth year, Atlanta Bear Pride keeps getting bigger, stronger and furrier, expanding its scope of venues and entertainment options. It’s an accomplishment that Collins proudly acknowledges.

“We have grown so much,” he says. “The first year, which typically would be difficult to have good numbers, surprised the crap out of us, and it has grown every year since, almost doubling last year. The response we’ve gotten for this year kind of scares me!”

The increase has a lot to do with the type of events, and most importantly, the talent, according to Collins.

“My cofounder Matt Mikesell [of the Bearracuda party series] and I are both experienced veterans in the nightlife industry, and we know, you’re only as good as your last party, so we keep raising the bar.”

Translation: Star power.

“We’ve had some great talent in the past, but this year blows my mind a little,” Collins teases. “We have the one and only Ruby Redd, two amazing local DJs Mike Pope and Stan Jackson, adult film star Atlas Grant, DJ J Warren, DJ Nina Flowers and DJ Tony Moran.”

The Bear Pride Warmup party goes down on Friday evening at Woofs. Then Heretic hosts the kickoff party that night with renowned porn star Atlas Grant working the crowd and DJ Nina Flowers spinning bangers to keep the dance floor moving all night. Gay men’s sex club Manifest4U, conveniently located across the street from Heretic, keeps the afterhours party going.

Make sure to get at least a couple hours of sleep, because Bear Pride is back on Saturday afternoon with the Bear Bust Cook Out on Heretic’s patio. That night sees the Bearracuda main event with DJ Tony Moran, another after hours swinger at Manifest4U, and J Warren at Xion from 3 a.m. until sunrise on Sunday.

Sunday adds an event and a new venue to the festivities this year. Blake’s opens its doors for Bear Bites, a free lunch for Atlanta Bear Pride attendees.

“We wanted to step out of our comfort zone and include an event at a venue you wouldn’t normally think about when hosting a bear event,” Collins says. “Alan, the owner of Blake’s, is so excited and can’t wait for the bears to come and play with his crowd. He’s even feeding the bears for free!! And you know we love to eat!”

But that’s not nearly all. Sunday also includes Bears & Beers at Woofs, and the Bear Pride party continues at BJ’s with an underwear party on Sunday night. Manifest4U opens its halls to the crowd again late that night.

First-time attendees, no matter their styles, can all find something in the packed weekend schedule. Collins assures us that there is plenty of bear action for everyone.

“We’ve got so many great events planned it’s hard to pick,” he says. “If you’re an early-to-bed day gay, I suggest Woofs on Friday, Beer Bust Saturday afternoon, Bear Bites at Blake’s on Sunday and Sunday Funday at Woofs.

“If you’re a all-night-long gay, you can’t miss Bear Invasion on Friday, Bearracuda Saturday, Xion Sunday morning, and the Closing Underwear party at BJ’s Sunday night.

Atlanta Bear Pride takes place April 20-22. Visit atlantabearpride.com. Keep scrolling for more details about each event, and slow down over photos of Q cover model, LGBTQ-ATL's own Tyler Forsyth by Brian McCall of McCall Studio Photography.

Photos of Q cover model Tyler Forsyth by McCall Studio Photography.

Atlanta Bear Pride Calendar of Events

Friday, April 20th

Atlanta Bear Pride Warmup Party

Woofs, 7 p.m. -9 p.m.

2425 Piedmont Road NE

woofsatlanta.com

 

ABP Kickoff Party

Bear Invasion with Atlas Grant and DJ Nina Flowers

Doors, 9 p.m. $10 before 10 p.m., $15 after

Heretic

2069 Cheshire Bridge Road

hereticatlanta.com

 

Bear Play Party

Manifest4U, 12 midnight

2103 Cheshire Bridge Road

manifest4u.org

 

Saturday, April 21

Bear Bust Cookout

12 p.m. -5 p.m.

Heretic

hereticatlanta.com

 

Bearracuda

With DJ Tony Moran

Doors, 9 p.m. $10 before 10 p.m., $15 after

Heretic

bearracuda.com

 

Bear Play Party

Manifest4U, 12 midnight

2103 Cheshire Bridge Road

manifest4u.org

 

Atlanta Bear Pride After Hours

With DJ J. Warren

Xion, 3 a.m. -7 a.m.

2043 Cheshire Bridge Road

facebook.com/bjroostersatlanta

 

Sunday, April 22

Bear Bites Free Lunch

Blakes on the Park, 12:30 p.m. -3 p.m.

227 10th Street NE

blakesontheparkatlanta.com

 

Bears & Beers Sunday Funday

Woofs, 4 p.m. -7 p.m.

woofsatlanta.com

 

Bear Pride Underwear Party

With DJ Stan Jackson

9 p.m. -Midnight

BJ Roosters

facebook.com/bjroostersatlanta

 

Bear Play Party

Manifest4U, 12 midnight

2103 Cheshire Bridge Road

manifest4u.org

This article originally appeared in Q magazine. Pick up your copy around town, and read the digital version below: