Are you ready for another summer of love? 2017 is a great year if you’re a LGBTQ traveller. There are all sorts of fantastic parties set to take place around the world during the summer months. And beyond. As there are so many to choose from, we’ve put together a handy guide to this year’s Pride festivals. Here’s our pick of the hottest, sexiest and most fabulous Pride events and gay-friendly festivals taking place this year.
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World Pride Madrid
23rd June – 2 July 2017
Madrid’s annual pride celebrations are among the world’s biggest. More than a million people regularly attend the celebrations, held in the city’s gay neighbourhood, Chueca. But in 2017 the celebrations are set to be bigger than ever, as the city has been selected to host the fifth WorldPride – the global LGBTIQ Pride festival.
Among the events planned are massive pop concerts in 5 of the city’s historic squares, including Plaza De Espana and Puerta Del Sol. The festival culminates in the WorldPride Parade, which takes over one of Madrid’s main streets, the Paseo del Prado. And the party isn’t just limited to the summer – there’s plenty going on in Chueca’s queer scene throughout the year.
One of the area’s biggest celebrations outside of the summer season is the bear community’s annual winter party. Taking place over the December bank holiday weekend, Madbear offers five days of parties, and the finals of the Mr Bear Spain competition.
24th – 25th June 2017
Even bigger than Madrid’s regular Pride celebrations, San Francisco’s Pride might be the world’s most popular Pride. Now in its 47th year, its also one of the most inclusive, with more than 200 groups taking part. Originally just a one-day parade, taking place on the last Sunday in June, San Francisco Pride is now a weekend long festival.
Separate Trans and Dyke Marches take place on the Friday and Saturday. The city’s famous gay neighbourhood, the Castro District, holds the Pink Saturday party the day before the parade.
Several other LGBTQ events take place in the city throughout the year. One of the most famous, and notorious (it’s definitely an adults-only affair) being the Folsom Street Fair. The September event is a gathering for the BDSM and leather subcultures, with around 400,000 enthusiasts regularly attending.
25th June 2017
New York is arguably the birthplace of the Pride movement. The city’s Christopher Street Liberation Movement sprung up in response to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, gradually turning into Pride as we know it today. New York’s Pride celebrations haven’t lost their political focus, with its events aiming to inspire, educate, commemorate and celebrate the diversity of the LGBT community.
The importance of the city’s Pride is reflected in its prestigious speakers at its Parade. The accompanying Pride Island and Pride Festival also offer starry line-ups, with 2017’s performers set to include Leanne Rimes and Tegan and Sara.
8th July 2017
2017 is a very important year for the LGBTQ community in the UK, marking the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. Organisations like the National Trust and the Tate Britain gallery have been holding events and exhibitions throughout the year, looking at the history of LGBTQ culture in the UK.
And this year’s Pride in London is set to reflect that, with a packed programme of events taking place over two weeks in late June to early July. Among the cultural institutions taking part are the British Museum and the National Theatre, which is staging a season of some of the most important queer plays. The Pride Parade itself takes place in the West End on Saturday July 8th, passing through Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square on the way to Whitehall.
A Pride Festival will then take place in Trafalgar Square, and at clubs around Soho. The celebrations continue the following day in Vauxhall. The area’s famous Pleasure Gardens host an afternoon of free festivities, including UK Black Pride and the Pride in the Park music festival.
4th-6th August 2017
The UK’s biggest Pride Festival takes place in Brighton during the first weekend of August. Following a Carnival of Diversity Parade, which brings a riot of colour to the seafront promenade, the festival kicks off in the city’s Preston Park. With several stages, dance and cabaret tents, Brighton and Hove’s Pride Festival regularly attracts big name performers. This year it’s headlined by The Pet Shop Boys and Years and Years.
25th August 2017
Manchester’s Canal Street is one of the UK’s most popular gay neighbourhoods. And the city’s annual Pride celebrations are similarly vibrant. Held over the August Bank Holiday weekend, Manchester Pride includes a Big Weekend Festival. 2017’s performers are set to include Clean Bandit, Faithless and Melanie C.
The city’s Pride Parade sees more than 3000 participants bring a bit more colour to the city’s streets. And the weekend culminates in a moving candlelit vigil in the city’s Sackville Gardens, commemorating those lost to HIV and AIDS.
28th July – 6th August 2017
Ireland’s biggest LGBTQ celebration, Belfast Pride regularly attracts a crowd of 50,000 people. Running from late July to early August, the festival centres around a parade through the city.
There’s also plenty of other things going on during the 10 day festival, including cabaret shows, art exhibitions and the Belfast Pride awards – celebrating the contributions of the local community.
5th – 20th August 2017
As one of Europe’s most popular LGBT resorts – the town of Sitges – is just a short drive away, Barcelona’s annual LGBT celebrations are particularly vibrant.
More than 250,000 people are expected to attend Barcelona Pride, with the city’s historic L’Eixample district temporarily being renamed Gaixample. Alongside the traditional parade and parties, Barcelona Pride also offers art and cultural events focusing around a different theme each year. In 2017, the theme is LGBTI phobia in sport.
If you’re looking to party, the Barcelona Circuit Festival is the place to go. Taking place over three weekends in August (5th-20th August), the festival features some of the best DJs and parties from the international gay clubbing scene. It celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017 with a special XXL edition. Meaning there’ll be even more seriously hot beach and pool parties than ever before.
At the start of September, Sitges gets a bit more fabulously furry, with the arrival of the International Sitges Bear Week.
23rd – 30th August 2017
Another of the gay scene’s hottest festivals can be found on the island of Mykonos. Already a popular destination for LGBTQ travellers throughout the summer, the Greek island now really hots up during the last week of August. The XLSIOR Festival (23-30th August) brings together crowds of 30,000 for 8 days of parties and clubbing.
Hosting some of the biggest names in the Gay Circuit scene, the festival has won several gay travel awards.
21st – 23rd July 2017
Paying direct tribute to New York’s place in gay history, Berlin Pride is also known as Christopher Street Day. It culminates in a parade to the city’s famous Brandenburg Gate, and is attended by hundreds of thousands of people. While the parade is at the centre of the celebrations, the Pride festivities in the city have now grown to take place over the course of a month, with cultural events happening all around the city.
You can also experience a bit of the San Francisco scene in the city at the Folsom Europe fair. Like the San Francisco original, Folsom Europe is aimed at the leather and fetish subcultures. It takes place in September each year, around Berlin’s main gay neighbourhood, Schöneberg.
31st August – 7th September 2017
Now in its fifth year, the ELLA International Lesbian Festival offers a week’s worth of events for gay women. Taking place in the island’s capital, Palma, during the first week of September, the programme includes beach parties, club nights and circus performances. Other highlights include sailing trips and a winery tour.
The festival also has a Winter Edition, taking place over the New Year weekend.
4th – 6th August 2017
For just over a week in late July and early August, Amsterdam hosts some of the most exciting LGBTQ events in the world. The Milkshake Festival takes place over the last weekend in July, in the city’s Westerpark. Co-organised by two of Amsterdam’s biggest clubs, AIR and Paradiso, its one of the most inclusive music festivals around. Encouraging its attendees to be themselves, it’s a wild mix of drag, performance art and world-class electronic music.
Throughout the following week, Pride Amsterdam brings a colourful cultural programme to the city’s streets and squares. And even its canals, as Amsterdam’s Pride Parade replaces the traditional parade floats for colourful barges, floating along the city’s waterways.
8th – 13th August 2017
Reykjavik is one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities. In fact Iceland regularly tops surveys of the best places in the world for LGBT rights. And this is reflected in the city’s Hinsegin Dagar (Queer Day) celebrations, which attracts crowds of 200,000. Past Hinsegin Dagar celebrations have featured appearances by some of the most influential people in Icelandic society.
In 2016, the then-newly elected President of the country even took part in the parade. The annual outdoor Pride concert features some of the best acts from the local music scene. Towards the end of the month, another gay celebration takes place in and around Reykjavik. Bears on Ice is a weekend-long gathering which includes bear-centred trips out of the city to some of Iceland’s famous sights. It also includes a party at the famous Blue Lagoon spa.
Where are your favourite LGBTQ scenes and celebrations? Let us know in the comments.
Cover image – Amsterdam Canal Pride. Courtesy I-Amsterdam/Harold IJskes.