Halifax is gearing up for its annual Pride Festival, which kicks off Thursday.

The festival is expected to bring tens of thousands of people to the downtown core, with the parade being a major highlight.

"More people are coming out. Our festival grows each year,” says Dylan White, director of communications for Halifax Pride. “We're the fourth largest festival in Canada, and it just keeps on growing."

With a crowd of 75,000 expected to crowd along the parade route and many hotels already booked, local businesses say they’re expecting plenty of spinoff dollars.

Shane Robillard, the general manager at a Halifax restaurant, says their second biggest day in the year, after Canada Day, is the day of the Pride Parade.

“It's a great time, the atmosphere is fantastic, and of course, the parade being what it is, it goes by and it fills up all day," says Robillard.

Pet store employee Crystal Murphy says her store closes during the parade, but sees lots of customers when it’s over.

“We get a lot more curiosity with all of the extra added traffic down along Spring Garden and that kind of brings in the extra traffic after that hour,” says Murphy.

The festival also generates activity for the arts. The Queer Acts Theatre Festival sells out and a separate conference helps to bring money and creative ideas together.

“So we do an industry gathering for producers and presenters and artists to come together and network and share their ideas,” says Queer Acts director Adam Reid.

The parade will take place Saturday, July 26.

With files from CTV's Ron Shaw