Virgin Trains East Coast is lighting up Newcastle Central Station to celebrate this year’s Northern Pride in Newcastle.

From tonight through to Sunday morning, the exterior of the station’s portico will be illuminated in six vibrant rainbow colours. The lights will be officially turned on this evening by Mr Gay UK – Stuart Hatton, from South Shields.

Virgin Trains East Coast is 90 per cent owned by Stagecoach, whose chairman Brian Souter led a vociferous campaign to keep the anti-gay Section 28 in law.

The company is using lights and specially designed drapes, glitter balls and flags to create an extra special welcome to tens of thousands of visitors to the city this week. It is working with partners across Tyneside to add extra colour to the recently refurbished portico of the Grade One listed station, which was first opened by Queen Victoria in 1850.

More than 65,000 people are expected to visit Northern Pride this week. It is estimated that the festival will boost the regional economy by £8m.

David Horne, Virgin Trains East Coast Managing Director, said: ‘Newcastle Central Station is an iconic landmark in the city and we are proud to light up this historic building in such a bright and modern way. We are looking forward to welcoming the thousands of extra visitors that this event attracts, and hope that people will enjoy the extra sparkle we have added.’

Sarah Stewart, Chief Executive at destination marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: ‘Newcastle/Gateshead is, by its very nature, a welcoming destination; we are renowned for the warmth of the people and the vibrant personality of the place. We’re delighted that our colleagues at Virgin Trains East Coast are embracing this and providing a very distinctive and colourful welcome for visitors travelling here for Newcastle Pride this weekend.

‘Newcastle Pride is a fantastic, inclusive event which continues to grow in popularity, attracting more than 65,000 visitors last year and is now one of the UK’s largest, free LGBT festivals. Events such as this really bring the city to life and provide a great atmosphere that local people and visitors alike can embrace and enjoy.’