THE south coast's LGBT community is getting ready for the region's fastest-growing festival.

Between 12,000 and 15,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual party-goers and their friends and allies will sashay down to Guildhall Square this weekend for the third annual Southampton Pride.

Now organisers of the family-friendly festival have released the full lineup - which features Union-J, the Cheeky Girls and former child prodigy turned trans entertainer Lauren Harries.

READ: Road closures for Southampton Pride 2018

But the city's cultural quarter is also stepping up to the mark and offering a range of events for visitors to enjoy.

City Art Gallery's newest acquisition was created by Hampshire-raised artist Lucy Ash and takes as its theme the colours of the rainbow. Inspired by the Greek god of the rainbow Iris, and stemming from the homophobic murder of gay man Ian Baynham in 2011 the painting - called Iris 02 - will be hung this weekend as part of the Pride celebrations.

Lucy said: "As a gay artist and activist it was vital to me to connect the rainbow of Iris to the rainbow pride flag. Both are multifaceted and represent diversity, hope, and social action. The spots are limited to six colours; this gives the artwork impact and a greater sense of depth and passion.

"It also sits comfortably with the city of Southampton, which embraces and champions its LGBT community."

Breakout youth group will be "breaking in" to the John Hansard Gallery to set up their very own Pride HQ for a day of music, community, and art.

Guests will be asked to make a pledge to support young Sotonians as part of the LGBT Futures project.

You will also be able to see the recently unveiled 'You Belong Here' neon sign created by artist Asten Holmes-Elliott with the group.

As reported an LGBT rugby-inspired interpretation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet featuring two male leads is being shown at NST on Saturday.

Staff from Titchfield employers the Office for National Statistics will be marching on the 2pm parade and chanting “Everyone Counts” as part of their support for the event.

A spokesperson for the ONS said: "ONS prides itself as an inclusive workplace, and in recent years has been recognised for its work in this area. Last year an ONS produced short video highlighting issues facing LGBT+ community members was shortlisted for the Iris Prize Film, and in 2016 Ash Loakes, ONS was Wales’ LGBT Role model of the year.

"As an organisation that produces vital statistics this weekend we celebrate the theme - “Everyone Counts”.

"It's so important for ONS to attend these events to show that we are a safe and inclusive place to work for the LGBT+ community. People may take this supporting environment for granted, but we need our allies, as well as the LGBT community, to be visible and proud, now just as much as ever.”

Sponsors P&O will be flying the flag for Southampton Pride on their ship Ventura when she arrives in the city - while cruise entertainers Headliners will also be performing on the main stage at 12.50pm. And a group of P&O employees will march through the city centre as part of the 2pm parade.