Gay Festivals in Europe


‘The Continent’ was believed to be one of the first regions to openly accept and celebrate alternate forms of sexual orientation, albeit restricted primarily to the avant garde circles of arts and fashion in the beginning of last century. Things however are vastly different now. Gay festivals across Europe are not only vibrant celebrations marked by music, food and parades but also by the political awareness that the LGBT community should continue to fight for the social and legal rights of those living in less empowered parts of the world.

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Europride is one of the foremost gay festivals in the continent and this year it will be celebrated in Rome, the capital of Italy and one of the most important centers of art, culture and fashion on the Europe. The events which are scheduled to cover the second week of June will begin with an exhibition titled ‘Gaytech. Love in the time of iPod’ which will explore the impact of modern technology on the gay community and then go on to include narrative readings which use literature as a mode of social awareness, a Gran Gala of artistic expressions attended by the best known painters, singers, actors and writers who are interested in the cause of the LGBT community and finally a grand opera performance from the Luciano Pavarotti Foundation. However the most popular event remains the Big Parade which will start from Piazza dei Cinquecento and cover the most famous and beatuiful historical streets of Rome.


The sun-soaked resort city of Barcelona in Spain becomes the site of the one of the wildest and uproarious gay festivals in the world. The Barcelona Circuit Festival is celebrated in summer and this year it is slated to begin on August 4 and continue till August 14. The special thing about this week-long party is that unlike the other politically aware pride festivals of Europe, the Circuit Festival focuses on offering its participants primarily a recreational experince with lots or partying, music and festivites evident in popular events like the Beach Day at L’Atlandida in Sitges as well as a full Water Day at the Waterpark in Barcelona . The Circuit Festival  in fact bills itself as “the the biggest cultural and leisure international festival for gays and lesbians in Europe”1.


Every summer, the capital of United Kingdom transforms itself into one of the most attractive destinations in the LGBT calendar because of the massive gay festival it hosts. Known as PrideLondon, the festival draws one of the largest gay crowds in Europe and this year it is slated to continue from 18 June to 3 July. The festival is a two-week long extravaganza of music, theatre, dance, comedy, visual arts, sport, debate, film, fashion, participation and literature events taking place all across London. The grand finale with be the Pride Parade which will mark the fortieth anniversary of Gay Liberation Front of 1970 amidst a revival of the heydays of Flower Power. The special thing LondonPride is that next year it will be hosting WorldPride 2012 which under the aegis of InterPride - an international association of Pride organizers – strives to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues on an international level through parades, festivals and other cultural activities.


The gay community in Berlin has been active since the end of the nineteenth century and actually flourished during the tragic rise of the Nazi party. However it is only post-reunification that Berlin has emerged as one of the top destinations of gay travel across the world, attracting visitors with upscale gay bars, nightclubs and gay festivities. Berlin’s prime Gay Festival takes place in June and is known as the Lesbisch-Schwules Stadtfest or the Lesbian and Gay City Festival. Held in Schoenberg's vibrant hub of GLBT life, Nollendorfplatz, the festival offers daily attractions like musical performances, lectures, art installations and exhibits on all facets of GLBT life.  The festival culminates with the Berlin Gay Pride Parade also known as Christopher Street Day and this year it is tentatively scheduled for June 25. The Parade too begins in Schoenberg area and covers several city streets till it winds up in the shadows of the Brandenburg Gate.


Though not as famous as the Barcelona Pride festival or observed as long as PrideLondon, the Gay festival in the beautiful Swiss town of Zurich is nevertheless one of the most colorful in this part of the continent. Usually observed on one of the later weekends of June, this year the Zurich Pride Festival is supposed to be on from June16 through 19.  The festival goes on for two days - Friday and Saturday - and features a large stage and plenty of notable performers. Then there are opening and closing parties held on Thursday and Sunday respectively as well as a wide range of performances, films, cultural events, speeches and so on. The festival reaches its climax with the Zurich Gay Pride Parade, which begins at 1 pm on Saturday from Hafendamn Enge and skirts the shore of lovely Lake Zurich, crossing the Quai-Bridge to end at Uto-Quai.


The capital city of Belgium is famous for more than its crafts and culinary delicacies . It is also the site of a large gay festival celebrating the lives and choices of the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender population. The first Antwerp Gay Festival took place as early as 1979 but was suspended for several years after that. Ever since Belgium legalized same-sex marriages in 2003, Antwerp’s LGBT community has only become more visible and one evidence of this was the resurfacing of the city Pride festival. In the last few years, Antwerp has become one of the most cherished destinations for the LGBT community in Europe. Highlights of the four-day festival include a Popi's Hysterical Bus Tour, several gatherings related to various fetishes  a sing-along to the musical movie Grease, a summerbar reception at the Fashion Museum, the White Party on Saturday and finally the stupendous Pride closing party on Sunday.


This most enchanting and romantic of all cities celebrates same-sex love with its very own Gay Festival in June every year. The festivities include a series of parties, balls, music concerts and cultural events held across Paris but especially in the city’s tres gay Marais district. The festival reaches its climax with the Marche de Fiertes which is believed to draw in more than 500,000 spectators and participants each year. This year the Gay Pride Parade is tentatively slated for June 25.