The 15 Biggest Gay Pride Festivals in the World

14 Aug

Every year, around summertime, countries and cities around the world come together to celebrate their LGBTQ communities. The foremost celebration comes in the form of the Pride parades, in which members of the LGBTQ community, as well as their wider supporters, host events and festivals in order to raise awareness, as well as to serve as demonstrations for legal rights, such as same-sex marriage.

Madrid gay pride

Every year, around summertime, countries and cities around the world come together to celebrate their LGBTQ communities. The foremost celebration comes in the form of the Pride parades, in which members of the LGBTQ community, as well as their wider supporters, host events and festivals in order to raise awareness, as well as to serve as demonstrations for legal rights, such as same-sex marriage.

What is Pride?

Pride began as a sociopolitical movement. Members of the LGBTQ community took a positive stance in spite of the discrimination they were facing, as well as the violence and abuse directed towards members of their community. Pride is believed to have originated in June 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher Street, New York. The raid was ultimately unsuccessful, but ironically it sparked a positive uprising within the LGBTQ community and spawned several protests, riots and marches. The marches in particular became steadily larger, louder and prouder, and eventually became major public events, so much so that on November the 2nd 1969 the first official Pride march took place in New York. The proposal requested that:

the Annual Reminder, in order to be more relevant, reach a greater number of people and encompass the ideas and ideals of the larger struggle in which we are engaged – that of our fundamental human rights – be moved both in time and location.

We propose that a demonstration be held annually on the last Saturday in June in New York City to commemorate the 1969 spontaneous demonstrations on Christopher Street, and that these demonstrations be called Christopher Street Liberation Day. No dress or age regulations shall be made for this demonstration. We also propose that we contact homophile organizations throughout the country and suggest that they hold parallel demonstrations on that day. We propose a nationwide show of support.

On the first anniversary of the Christopher Street riots, June the 28th 1970, the march covered 51 blocks, all the way to Central Park, and became the first gay pride march in US history. Although the march took far less time than anticipated – mainly because there was a mixture of excitement and wariness regarding carrying LGBTQ signs and banners – it was met with little to no resistance, and overall was a phenomenal success. The march succeeded in bringing attention to an incredibly important sociopolitical movement, with the New York Times reporting it on their front page in a highly positive light.

Since then, what began as a solely sociopolitical movement has transformed into a variation of celebratory happenings. Parties, parades, concerts and rallies dominate Pride processions, welcoming people from every background and belief to join in on the love and festivities. Pride is now a globally recognised event that draws hundreds of thousands of people to events across the world.

Pride Around the World

Much has changed since the Stonewall riots, so much so that Pride events now span the globe, with almost every major world player hosting its own unique celebrations. Whilst the majority of Pride events feature similar festivities, there are a few notable variations. Pride has become more of a celebration of diversity and LGBTQ positivity as opposed to solely a sociopolitical movement. Several countries still outlaw LGBTQ communities, of course, so it’s important to remember that, whilst modern Pride celebrations and parades are actively fun and festive, the socio-political aspect remains very much the driving force. By the end of the year, 2018 will have had around 150 Pride festivals take place across the globe, a truly remarkable number.

Here at The Vida Consultancy, we love our LGBT customers and offer a gay matchmaking service. Because of this, we have compiled a list of 15 of the biggest Pride events taking place this year around the world, all of which have their own unique character. Whilst the Pride season is primarily during the summertime, there remain a few countries that are yet to celebrate the occasion. Take a look at what’s made our list and do let us know if we’ve missed any noteworthy Pride festivals elsewhere!

1. Capital Pride, Washington, DC

Washington gay pride

The Capital Pride event took place in Washington, D.C this year, and saw even more variety and energy than last year’s. The theme for this year’s event was ‘elements of us’, which centred on diversity and intersecting identities, an incredibly significant issue right across the LGBTQ community.

The event kicked off on June the 8th with a sensational opening festival, followed by a block party and accompanying parade through the city on the 9th. Both events centred on the Dupont Circle, otherwise known as the ‘gayborhood’.

The Capital Pride Concert took place on the 10th of June and featured three music stages, where Alessia Cara, Troye Sivan, MAX, Asia O’Hara, Keri Hilson and Kim Petras performed. Interspersed amongst this were beverage gardens, food stalls and other quirky outlets dotted around the Capitol Building.

2. Zurich Pride, Switzerland

Zurich’s Pride, from June the 8th to the 17th, was another major turnout this year, with over 40 thousand people in attendance! The event was extremely well organised and offered a variety of eclectic music acts, food stalls and entertainment. As Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich attracted crowds from around the globe. With the theme of ‘same love, same rights’, it was truly a knockout event.

Because it’s Switzerland, you may also happen to bump into some of the most eligible hedge fund and private equity managers across the globe. If this is your bag then Zurich might be the Pride festival for you in 2019!

3. NYC Pride, New York

New York gay pride

Considering NYC is where the modern gay rights movement came into existence, you’d expect the city to throw the biggest Pride events in the world. NYC did not disappoint.New York will always have a special connection with the LGBTQ community, which is why thousands of people flock to the Big Apple every year to celebrate. After the Stonewall Inn gay bar raid of 1969, the LGBTQ community began to establish safe spaces, where members of the community could be open about their sexuality and views, without fear of prosecution.

For this reason, New York has an incredibly positive affiliation with the LGBTQ community, and the event is celebrated to the absolute max. This year’s theme was ‘defiantly different’. Thousands of people joined the march itself on the 24th of June, marching towards Stonewall Inn to pay tribute to the significance of the location. And how about those musical acts? Kylie Minogue was, unsurprisingly, exceptional, performing to sell-out crowds on the 23rd, with Tove Lo giving a sensational performance the following day. Both performed at Pier 97, Hudson River Park.

So if you’re looking for a taste of LGBTQ history at the heart of where it all began, next year’s NYC Pride might be the festival for you!

4. Brighton Pride, Brighton, UK

The so-called gay capital of Europe never disappoints in its Pride celebrations. Despite the city’s relatively small size, it boasts one of the best festivals in the world. It truly is a little firecracker of a city.

The main event took place between the 4th and 5th of August. The Saturday consisted of a massive music festival at Preston Park, where Britney Spears headlined a sell-out show. In the city, a massive party poured out onto the infamous St. James’s Street, where thousands gathered through the day and into the night. Sunday saw the introduction of a new festival, LoveBN1 Fest, at Preston Park, with major UK artists, amongst them Jess Glynne and Chic, performing.

Brighton Pride sees thousands of people flood in from all over the UK and beyond to join in the celebrations. As always, this year’s celebrations were a roaring success. We can rest assured that Brighton will remain one of the strongest players Pride has to offer!

5. Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico gay pride

Everyone knows that Mexico throws some of the most phenomenal parties and festivals in the world – just look at the Festival of the Dead! So, how do their Pride shenanigans hold up?

Well, as it turns out, pretty darn well. This year saw Mexico Pride reach its 40th birthday! It kicked off on June the 23rd, with the parade beginning at El Angel and marching towards the Zocalo, the central square. The event adopted the appropriate slogan, 40 years living in liberty. We will not give up.

6. London Pride, UK

London gay pride

Another UK-based Pride event makes the list! One of the most diverse capitals in the world, London’s Pride closely rivals Brighton when it comes to celebrating the LGBTQ community. The home of Oscar Wilde, Boy George and (in his later years) a certain fellow named Shakespeare, it’s safe to say that London folk are no strangers to the flamboyant and the dazzling.

London’s parade took off on the 7th of July, with Trafalgar Square offering free music performances alongside some weird and wonderful travelling acts. The parade continued into the early hours of the morning, with many bars and pubs offering Pride-themed food and drink. LGBTQ hotspots such as Soho, Heaven and G-A-Y Bar were the busiest areas of the night. Alongside the bustling street parties and parade, London also invited people to take part in self-defence classes and talent shows – a nice, touch to this year’s festivities.

7. Amsterdam Pride, Netherlands

Madrid gay pride

Everyone loves Amsterdam, the home of eccentricity, stunning architecture – and bicycles. Unsurprisingly, Amsterdam fully embraces its Pride celebrations!

The Dutch know how to throw a party, and this year’s Pride, which ran from July the 28th to August the 5th, was truly exceptional. Amsterdam’s iconic canal played a huge part in the celebrations, with floats of all shapes and sizes bobbing down the historic UNESCO canals on Saturday, followed by the main parties taking place in the city centre. DJs control the night, with bars and clubs opening their doors for a full-blown party, which floods into the streets.

8. Berlin Pride, Germany

You’d be forgiven for beginning to think that that Europe offers the craziest Pride festivals and parades around – and Berlin is no exception. The Germans don’t mess around when it comes to celebrating Pride, known in Deutschland as Christopher Street Day, a tribute to where the movement was born. Berlin Pride has no problem attracting a crowd either, with around half a million people joining in on the parade celebrations – and that’s not even counting the parties that spread across the city!  

The parade started at midday on July the 28th, marching from Kurfurstendamm and Joachimsthaler Straße the illustrious Brandenburg Gate – not a bad place to end, it’s fair to say.

9. Taiwan Pride, Taipei

Known as Asia’s biggest LGBTQ event, Taiwan Pride begins much later in the year than most other Pride celebrations – October the 27th, to be precise. The Zhongzheng District is set to be alive with decorative lights, music and street parties. Along with the stunning scenery of Taipei itself, it’s set to be a truly gorgeous event.

Many people may not be aware that the capital has a thriving gay scene, with almost 30 gay bars, shops and restaurants. This means that, once the parade is over, you and your friends can explore the beautiful city and dive into some of its more eccentric establishments!

10. San Diego Pride, California

Famous for its gay scene, San Diego’s 2018 Pride was arguably the biggest and best event in the entire state of California.

Pride took place on July the 13th to the 15th, starting, in much the same way as NYC and Berlin, with a tribute to the Christopher Street riots in the form of the Spirit of Stonewall Rally, swiftly followed by a speech from Virginia Delegate Danica Roem, the first transgender state legislator in the US. Then commenced the parade itself, followed by a two-day party; a 5km run; and a women’s Pride brunch.

After the celebrations ended, one just hopes the revellers hit up the surf and thoroughly detoxed after a solid weekend’s partying!

11. Thessaloniki Pride, Greece

If you’re looking to celebrate Pride in a quaint and relatively modern way, Thessaloniki Pride might be the one for you. Whilst not exactly a small city, Thessaloniki boasts a lesser known Pride – but its heart is as big as any. Thessaloniki’s festivities took place on June the 23rd and attracted an impressive crowd. If you find yourself in Greece next summer, it’s definitely worth checking out!

12. Tel Aviv Pride, Israel

The largest LGBTQ event in the Middle East, and arguably Tel Aviv’s biggest and brightest party of the year, Pride lasted from June the 3rd to the 10th, and consisted of a huge parade followed by an epic beach party. As the accompanying picture might suggest, clothing is limited (at most!) during said party, partly because of the heat – and partly because, well, Pride! Israeli Eurovision winner Netta also performed at this year’s parade, reprising her infamous single Toy.

It’s worth noting that Tel Aviv proudly recognises itself as a very open and friendly LGBTQ city, which is why so many people from around the Middle East journey there to celebrate the event.

13. Madrid Pride, Madrid

Madrid doesn’t struggle with getting locals and tourists to explore its stunning city, so, when Pride rolls around, the city becomes a heaving mass of revellers and joy!

Madrid Pride event kicked off on June the 28th, ending July the 8th, and included the standard Pride attractions: city-wide parties, music and entertainment pouring from Chueca, known as Madrid’s gay neighbourhood. Next year, you’ll be able catch the Pride parade on Madrid’s Paseo del Prado.

14. Reykjavik Pride, Iceland

If you’re looking for a nonstop party filled with surprises, head to Iceland – not just for Pride, mind, but for everything! Reykjavík Pride is one of the most hardcore festivals to make the list, partly due to the city’s seemingly endless days and nights!

Pride took place between the 7th of August and the 12th, with a boozy brunch and traditional Pride party and parade. With extravagant events left, right and centre, Reykjavík is certainly a dark horse to look out for next year.

Additionally, you might want to hang around after Pride just to immerse yourself in the island’s breath-taking scenery. Hallgrímskirkja, the capital’s Lutheran church, is the tallest building in Iceland, boasting abstract architecture and views across the city from its rooftop a staggering 244ft from the ground – a literal sight to behold.

15. Palm Springs Pride, California

Heading back to California – why not? Palm Springs Pride occurs later than any other North American Pride event. Is the continent saving its best till last? Either way, it’s a certain contender!

Palm Springs Pride begins on November the 4th, so you still have plenty of time to book tickets! If you’re worried about the temperature, don’t be – Coachella Valley remains one of the warmest places in the US at this time of the year. Additionally, Palm Springs is one of the most open and LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world, with every single member of the city council an avid supporter.

Oh, and did I mention the pool party?

There We Have it!

Thus concludes our list of the 15 biggest Pride events from across the globe! As the worldwide LGBTQ community continues to grow in strength, you can be sure the number of Pride events around the globe will increase every year. If you missed your city’s Pride event this year, or they weren’t hosting an event, be sure to get yourself a ticket for next year! Pride events usually take place around the day of the Stonewall riots, from the end of June to the beginning of August. However, as seen above, some Pride events do take place later in the year, so be on the lookout for those if you can’t make it during the summer!

by Joseph Bennett

Matchmaker

Joseph is an Assistant Matchmaker and hails from a small village in the English countryside, and moved to London in 2015. He has a long-held interest in evolutionary psychology, which spurred him to read Biological Anthropology at the University of Kent. He then read for a Master’s in Evolutionary Anthropology at University College London, writing his thesis on the game theory of dating apps. Joseph received Honours with Distinction, and his thesis is in the process of publication, co-authored with world-famous evolutionary anthropologist Professor Volker Sommer. Joseph is warm, friendly and patient which makes him a perfect fit to work with our busy Senior Matchmakers and plays a key role in helping our many clients meet their ultimate match.More by this author