Filled with great passion and love for the LGBT community, Aromaromauk unveils six of the most popular gay prides and largest LGBT festivals around.
Since they started in the United States the 1970s, gay pride parades have cropped up around the world. Now, you can find a Pride event in almost any city, in almost any country.
The success of parades has led to the creation of more LGBT-focused events. These include art events, gay sports events, and more.
Pride parades and festivals are often at the centre of week-long celebrations. Most people associate colourful rainbow flags and flamboyant revellers with Pride. Many events also seek to address the challenges facing the worldwide LGBT community.
We’ve picked six of the most popular LGBT events from around the world. Some of them are in far-flung corners of the world, while others let you stay closer to home.
1. Stay Close to Home with London Pride Festival
London Pride may not be the largest of all Pride parades, but it does have an illustrious history. It’s the premiere LGBT event in the UK, running each year for almost 50 years now.
The history of this event starts with the legalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. This happened in the late 1960s. The parade grew out of marches held by LGBT people and their supporters in the early 1970s.
The first UK Gay Pride Rally happened in 1972, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The London Pride Festival has changed over the years. In its early days, it focused mainly on marches. In the 1990s, it shifted to more of a festival format, which it maintains today.
Every July, you can see the British capital decked out in rainbow flags. It welcomes more than a million people to its largest LGBT party.
Thousands of people take part in the parade, marching down bustling Oxford Street. In fact, the parade has the distinction of being the only event that shuts down this iconic street.
London invites you to join other revellers in Trafalgar Square for continuing festivities. The range of musical acts always impresses. At one point, the festival was actually the largest free music festival in all of Europe.
The date is set for 6 July 2019, with more details about schedules and acts to follow. If you can’t make it out, you can always follow along with the festival’s chosen hashtag. Each year features a different hashtag to focus on issues facing the LGBT+ community.
2. Sao Paulo May Be the Largest Gay Pride
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo knows how to put on a party. Like other Latin American centres, it’s well-known for its flamboyant Carnival culture.
The city’s one-day Pride parade takes place long after Mardi Gras. The attendees are more than ready to break out elaborate costumes and sequins every June.
The event is still young, especially compared to some of the other festivals on this list. It started in 1997. It shot to fame 10 years later, when it attracted 3 million people to the streets of Brazil’s largest city.
With this record, Sao Paulo became the largest of all gay Prides. Attendance has gone up and down over the years. In 2013, the festival set a new record by attracting 5 million people.
One thing is clear. The festival has become a destination for LGBT people and their supporters.
The government provides funding for this event. Many politicians see it as an important way to connect with the LGBT community. You can expect dozens of rainbow-themed floats to make their way through the core of the city for years to come.
If you want to enjoy Sao Paulo’s unique take on Pride, the 2019 edition of the parade happens on 23 June. The festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2021. If you can’t make it this year, you may want to save up for an exceptional extravaganza.
3. Madrid Pride is Europe’s Largest
When it comes to size, Madrid Pride is second only to Sao Paulo. Take a look at the 10-day itinerary. Once you have, it shouldn’t be hard to see why LGBT people and allies flock to the Spanish capital.
Madrid’s premiere gay Pride event had humble beginnings. It was founded in 1977. By the early 2000s, it was attracting millions of visitors.
In 2017, it brought 3.5 million people to the streets of Madrid as the festival went all in for its 40th anniversary.
The event packs in art installations, parties, performances, and open-air concerts. The parade itself heads through the famed gay barrio of Chueca. It then wraps up at Puerta de Alcala.
The Madrid festival also has a more serious side. It usually includes a summit running alongside the parades and dance parties.
This event attracts LGBT activists from around the world. It provides a platform to discuss the issues facing the worldwide LGBT community.
Other events include shows of solidarity and sporting events. This demonstrates how wide-reaching the Madrid festival is. It’s little wonder the Orgullo Gay de Madrid was selected as a site for both EuroPride and WorldPride in 2017.
Join millions of others and take part in the festivities yourself from 28 June to 7 July. The parade itself has yet to be confirmed, so you may want to block off the entire 10-day period.
4. Berlin is One of Europe’s Most Popular Prides
Although it’s not even the largest LGBT event in Germany, many people love the atmosphere of Berlin Pride. Hundreds of thousands attend the annual parade, held in late July.
Its official name is Christopher Street Day. This name commemorates the Stonewall rebellion in New York City. The parade began in 1979, a decade after Stonewall.
The parade itself kicks off Berlin Pride. It sets out at noon from Kurfurstendamm. It makes its way through the streets of the German capital.
It finally wraps up at the Brandenburg Gate around two o’clock in the afternoon.
The Soul of Stonewall Award ceremony recognizes LGBT activists who continue the work that started in 1969. Pride Village is home to a wide variety of musical performances, acts, and more. World-famous DJs even get in on the act, delivering performances from the main stage.
Berlin Pride isn’t the only LGBT festival you can visit. A week before Berlin Pride, you can check out the Gay & Lesbian Stadtfest as well.
This year’s Stadtfest takes place on 20 and 21 July, marking its 27th anniversary. Berlin Pride kicks off 27 July.
5. Toronto Hosts Canada’s Largest Pride Event
Canada has something of a reputation. It recently legalised cannabis. Long before that, it decriminalised homosexuality in the late 1960s.
Police were still conducting raids on the LGBT community in the early 1980s. One of those raids was the catalyst for Toronto Pride. The parade has since evolved into Canada’s premier LGBT event.
The parade shuts down major city streets, including Church St. and Bloor St.
It makes its way to Yonge-Dundas Square at the heart of downtown. The square hosts performances and more. Pride also attracts politicians, such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Although the parade is the most spectacular event, it’s only one of many in Toronto’s Pride month. For four years running, the capital of Ontario has decked itself out in rainbows for the month of June. The celebration incorporates many more events, including the Dyke March and Trans Pride.
It’s difficult to estimate just how many people come out to Pride month events. The Parade alone usually attracts more than a million people. It shows how Toronto is evolving into a world-class destination for LGBT people.
6. NYC is the Oldest of the Six
You can’t write a list about popular gay Pride festivals without including New York City. Although it may no longer be the largest, NYC’s parade is without a doubt the oldest event. All other Pride events take their cues from New York.
The very first Pride events grew out of the infamous Stonewall Riots. These happened in Greenwich Village in 1969. LGBT people clashed with police following yet another raid, this time at the Stonewall Inn.
The incident launched the modern LGBT rights movement.
In the wake of Stonewall, people continued protesting and agitating for their rights. This eventually turned into a march to mark the first anniversary of Stonewall. On 28 June 1970, marchers took to the streets, covering 51 blocks to Central Park.
Today, the New York City LGBT Pride March still passes by the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street. The event attracts millions of participants to New York every June, rivalling both Sao Paulo and Madrid.
Officials expect the parade to be even bigger and better in 2019. This marks the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
WorldPride partnered with the State of New York to add more events and programming. Several organizations are volunteering to staff welcome centres. They’ll also provide education to visitors who arrive in the weeks before the parade.
The NYC parade is expected to make history. It may set a record as the largest international LGBT pride celebration yet. If so, it may even eclipse Sao Paulo and Madrid.
If you make one trip this year, choose New York. Like other LGBT trailblazers before you, you’ll be making history.
It’s difficult to create a list of just six entries when there are so many gay Prides and LGBT festivals. Each is unique and wonderful for its own reasons.
We’ve chosen these six festivals based on their size, but there are other festivals that are as large. This list includes parades held in Chicago, Illinois, and San Francisco.
Other notable events in Europe include Sweden Pride and Amsterdam Pride. Paris Pride deserves a mention too. Several destinations in Mexico host their own parades as well.
One up-and-coming parade takes place in Israel. Tel Aviv’s Pride often makes top ten lists.
Other LGBT Events
Gay Pride parades and festivals are the best-known type of LGBT event. They’re hardly the only one though. As you travel the world, you’ll find plenty of other LGBT-focused events.
Many of these events happen in conjunction with Pride events. LGBT film festivals, for example, may take place during Pride festivities. In some cases, they may be scheduled in the days before or after a Pride event.
Arts festivals and performing arts events are part of many LGBT events calendars. Some cities and countries have started scheduling Pride “months,” much like Toronto. Clustering these events together can give you more reason to travel to one place or another.
It also improves visibility for LGBT people. The purpose of pride events is to make the community visible. They draw attention to issues facing queer people.
More events help further this aim. They also showcase the accomplishments and contributions of queer people in the arts, sports, and more.
When you’re travelling, don’t limit yourself just to the largest Pride festivals. Get off the beaten path with unique entries like Amsterdam’s Milkshake Festival.
Barcelona’s Circuit Festival is directed at a particular subset of gay men. Circuit parties can be found almost anywhere, from Bangkok to New Orleans. Orlando, Florida hosts “Gay Days” during June, which centres on Disney World.
There are also events for other identities, such as lesbians and transgender people. LGBT tech summits and family-friendly LGBT events are becoming ever-more popular.
What’s clear from this is that you have no shortage of events to attend and places to explore. The only limits are your pocketbook and your imagination.
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