Are you ready for another summer of love? 2023 is set to be a great year if you're an LGBTQ+ traveller. There are all sorts of fantastic celebrations taking place around the world. With so many to choose from, we've put together a handy guide to this year's World Pride festivals and their destinations. Here's our pick of the biggest, hottest and most fabulous Pride events and gay-friendly festivals taking place this year.
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One of the biggest and most diverse Pride celebrations around, Pride in London sees hundreds of events and parties taking place across the capital throughout June and July, aiming to represent the full spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community.
This year’s Pride Parade will take place on 1st July 2023. And with four stages dotted around the West End (Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Soho and Golden Square) hosting a variety of acts, there will be plenty to keep you entertained before and after the parade.
Venues across the city will be hosting a broad range of events - from drag shows and comedy to live music and parties at the city’s most-loved LGBTQ+ bars and clubs. On the weekend of the parade, expect Soho and Vauxhall to be buzzing with revellers well into the early hours.
As one of Europe's favourite city break and beach destinations, and with popular LGBTQ+ resort Sitges just a short drive along the coast, Barcelona's annual Pride celebrations are guaranteed to bring the fun.
More than 250,000 people are expected to attend Pride BCN. Over the festival weekend (15th July 2023) crowds join the Pride Parade through the city centre, enjoy art and cultural events and celebrate at beach parties and club nights from LGBTQ+ hotposts. The city's historic L'Eixample district is even affectionately renamed “Gaixample”.
The beachside town of Sitges hosts its own celebrations earlier in the month (14th to 18th June 2023) with boat parties, outdoor events and a parade. Later in September, Sitges gets a bit more fabulously furry, with the arrival of the International Sitges Bear Week (1st to 10th September 2023) attracting more than 5,000 visitors.
If you're looking to party, the Barcelona Circuit Festival is another key date for the diary. Taking place over two weekends in August (5th to 13th August 2023), the festival features some of the best DJs and parties from the international gay clubbing scene.
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.
NYC Pride hasn’t lost its political focus, with events aiming to inspire, educate, commemorate and celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. The importance of the event is reflected in the prestigious speakers at the city’s Pride March.
Festivals, street fairs, rallies and parties are organised throughout June, in the lead up to the main parade on Sunday. One of the city’s other main events, Pride Island, provides a starry line-up of performers with Lizzo, Tove Lo, Kylie Minogue, Lil’ Kim and RuPaul's Drag Race royalty Sasha Velour previously gracing the stage.
San Francisco Pride might be the world's most popular LGBTQ+ celebration. Now in its 52nd year, it’s also one of the most inclusive, with more than 200 groups taking part in the weekend’s events and SF locals and visitors alike encouraged to join in.
Originally just a one-day parade, celebrations now span the last weekend in June with further events throughout Pride Month. The main festival takes place in Civic Center Plaza, hosting live music, cabaret and inspirational speakers. The plaza’s City Hall also marks the end of the Pride Parade on Sunday. San Fransisco's famous gay neighbourhood, the Castro District, is worth a visit with a party atmosphere guaranteed.
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) is the Folsom Street Fair. The September event is a gathering for BDSM and leather enthusiasts, with around 400,000 people regularly attending.
Paying direct tribute to New York's place in gay history, Berlin Pride is known locally as Christopher Street Day Pride. It culminates in a parade (23rd July) 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, Pride Month festivities in Berlin have now grown to take place over four weeks in June through July. Cultural and educational events will be happening all around the city. Join queer film screenings, art exhibitions, street parties and club nights to get a real taste of the local LGBTQ+ scene.
Madrid's annual pride festival is one of the world's biggest. More than two million people regularly attend the celebrations, centred around the city's gay neighbourhood, Chueca. Madrid Orgullo, or MADO, runs throughout the city’s LGBT Pride Week with outdoor concerts and parties, culminating in the Pride Parade (2nd July 2023), which takes over one of Madrid's main streets, the Paseo del Prado.
The party isn't just limited to the summer though - Chueca's queer scene is lively throughout the year. One of the area's biggest celebrations outside of July is the bear community's annual winter party: Madbear. Taking place over the December bank holiday (5th - 11th December 2023) with a week-long calendar of events.
Northern Ireland's biggest LGBTQ+ celebration, Belfast Pride regularly attracts crowds of over 50,000 people. The festival at the end of July centres around a Pride Parade through the city on Saturday 29th July 2023.
There's plenty more going on during the week-long festival. Expect lots of live shows, DJs, art exhibitions and the Belfast Pride awards, which recognises contributions to the local community.
For just over a week in late July and early August, Amsterdam hosts some of the most exciting LGBTQ+ events in the world. Amsterdam Gay Pride brings a colourful cultural programme to the city's streets, parks, squares - and even its canals! Amsterdam's Pride Parade (Saturday 5th August) takes to the water with vibrant boats and barges floating along the route.
During the same weekend, Milkshake Festival takes place in the city's Westerpark. Organised by two of Amsterdam's biggest clubs, AIR and Paradiso, its one of the most inclusive music festivals around. Encouraging attendees to be themselves, it's a wild mix of drag, performance art and world-class electronic music, promising a unique experience.
Reykjavík is one of the world's most gay-friendly cities. In fact, Iceland regularly tops surveys of the best places in the world for LGBTQ rights. This is reflected in the city's annual Hinsegin Dagar (Queer Day) celebrations, featuring outdoor concerts and a Pride Parade (12th August 2023), which attract crowds in the 100,000s - more than a quarter of Iceland’s total population!
In September, another gay celebration takes place in Iceland. “Bears on Ice” or Reykjavik Bear (31st August to 3rd September 2023) is a festival filled with parties, day trips and tours for bears, taking in some of the country’s famous sights including a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon.
Often claimed to be the UK's biggest Pride festival, Brighton & Hove Pride takes place during the first weekend of August and attracts big-name performers year after year - Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera and Grace Jones are just a few divas to have graced the main stage.
Following the LGBTQ+ Community Parade, which brings a riot of colour to the seafront promenade, the city's Preston Park is the place to be for live music. The festival also hosts cabaret, spoken word and dance tents with plenty of entertainment across the two days.
Already a popular destination for LGBTQ+ travellers throughout the summer, this Greek island really hots up during the last week of August. One of the biggest gay music festivals can be found on the island of Mykonos. XLSIOR Festival brings together crowds of 30,000 from all over the world for 8 days of beach parties and clubbing. Hosting some of the biggest names in the Gay Circuit scene, the festival has won several gay travel awards. So, if sun, sea and music sound like your perfect holiday, Mykonos is the place to be.
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 the Gay Village Party from Friday through to Monday with several stages and live performances. Previous headliners include Charli XCX, Years & Years, Ariana Grande and Phoebe Bridgers. The festival weekend culminates in a moving candlelit vigil in the city's Sackville Gardens, commemorating those lost to HIV/AIDS.
Prefer your Pride to have a touch of winter sun? Maspalomas Winter Pride is the event for you! In Gran Canaria’s popular beach resort, surrounded by sand dunes and sparkling blue sea, the week of events includes free live shows as well as boat trips, pool parties and a Pride Walk... so plenty of chances to top up your tan.
With the Canary Islands enjoying sunshine practically year-round, it’s no surprise the island also hosts an annual Maspalomas Pride event in early May (10 May 2023). And as a much-loved LGBTQ+ destination, you’ll have no trouble finding gay-friendly parties and venues whenever you visit.
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