Travel writer based in UK. Liz Taylor wannabe and aspiring food critic with a penchant for sweet sherry, Romanian street dogs and fancy fridge magnets. Visited 35+ countries so far and counting.
There are some cities that just know how to do Pride right and with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall protests just around the corner, there’s no better time to celebrate all things queer and wonderful! Pride’s origins are in the recognition of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender lifestyle but over the years it has morphed into so much more than that, it’s about casting aside judgement — not just toward others, but also on yourself — and coming together as one, big, accepting family. Here’s our list of the top cities to celebrate your Pride this year.
New York City, USA
The home of Pride is celebrating a very special anniversary in 2019; it’s been 50 years since the Stonewall riots kicked off the LGBTQ+ movement in NYC in June 1969. This year sees the Global Pride event coming home to New York, with a month-long series of events that celebrates the continuing fight for LGBTQ+ equality and liberation. Highlights include the world’s biggest ever march for Pride which will be happening on Sunday 30th June, the Human Rights Conference to be held at New York Law School and the tasty-sounding ‘Savor Pride’ foodie events sponsored by Thrillist. Also don’t miss the World Mural Project, a unique celebration of LGBTQ+ artworks, commissioned especially to commemorate this historic anniversary. If that were not enough, discover one of the world’s queerest neighbourhoods on Urban Adventures’ LGBTQ+ History, Neighborhood and Pub Tour of Greenwich Village tour.
The home of hygge is celebrating Pride from 13th – 18th August this year (they also do a winter Pride in February each year, which is well worth a visit!), with the big parade happening on Saturday 17th. The ‘Human Rights Program’ is back by popular demand, featuring a series of educational talks, workshops and debates around LGBTQ+ topics and issues. Copenhagen has the honour of hosting the next global Pride event, taking over from NYC this year. It’s due to take place in 2021.
Canada’s largest city is home to one of the world’s largest Pride celebrations featuring a whole month of festivities for the month of June, culminating in one of North America’s largest and most energetic Pride parades on the 23rd. Revellers will enjoy tonnes of live music, DJ dance parties, street fairs and a whole host of other community events throughout the month. Like many of the Pride celebrations around the world, Toronto’s Pride Week had its beginnings as a form of protest against government treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, after a series of Toronto bathhouse raids by the police in 1981. Since that time, it’s grown into a massively popular event that’s attended by police officials, politicians and local celebrities.
San Francisco, USA
The City by the Bay has a long love story with the LGBTQ+ community in the United States and beyond, with its legendary nightlife and extensive LGBTQ+ history to boast about. The city’s Pride festival has been going for more than 40 years — famously beginning on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Celebrations usually begin on the last Saturday of June in Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Francisco. The famous Parade, which takes place on the Sunday morning of the event, starts from Beale Street along the Market and ends at Market and 8th St. in the heart of downtown San Francisco. If you’re looking to delve a little deeper into LGBTQ+ history while you’re in town, Urban Adventures will help you plan your own tailor-made Pride-themed tour itinerary. Why not visit the colourfully camp Castro district and drop in to the Harvey Milk Plaza or the Civil Rights Academy before taking a stroll down the Rainbow Honour Walk?
Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras used to run in early Spring but you can now catch it in June to coincide with Pride celebrations around the world. In addition to the main parade and party, the festivities also include live entertainment such as cabarets, comedy shows, quizzes, debates live music and theatrical performances. Like many other pride celebrations, Sydney’s started as a show of solidarity with other cities in response to the Stonewall riots in New York. For Sydneysiders, the celebration is more than just recognising sexual orientation — it also recognises a civil rights win for the general population; after several protestors were arrested and beaten in the original march in 1978, legislation was changed, removing a clause that allowed the arrests, and abolishing the requirement for permits for organised protests. Check out Urban Adventures’ Forbidden Sydney tour, which will give you a fabulous introduction to Sydney’s LGBQT+ legacy, from the gay governor whose conduct scandalised the British Empire to the bright lights of the gay strip on Oxford Street.
One of Asia’s biggest Pride events is held in Taipei, attracting over 80,000 revellers in 2018. We predict that Taiwan is going to shoot up a lot of people’s bucket lists after they became the first country in Asia to legalise gay marriage in 2019. The Taipei Pride Parade takes place on the last Saturday in October each year, starting from Kaidagelan Blvd, moving through the city streets in a loop, ending up back where you started. The route takes about 2 hours to walk. Once the parade is over, events kick off on the main stage with local celebrities performing to show their support for the community. There are also parties galore, so be sure to check out their website for more details but don’t miss the W Hotel’s celebration, featuring world-class DJs from around the world and the always popular Taipei Go-Go Boys!
Also known as ‘CSD’ for Christopher Street Day (where Berlin’s first Pride march took place), the Berlin Pride festival is another event held in memory of the Stonewall riots and will be held at the end of July. Since its beginnings in 1979, the festival has grown to be one of the biggest LGBTQ+ celebrations in Europe, and one of the biggest annual events in Berlin. In addition to all the parties, there are also performances, exhibitions, lectures, films and concerts, all of it finishing off with a massive parade and rally. This year’s focus is on celebrating five of the city’s most famous LGBTQ+ residents of the past 100 years, including the Danish painter Lili Elbe, who was probably one of the first intersex people to have consented to undergo genital altering with the help of the Berlin Institute for Sexology.
One of the newer Pride festivities is Tokyo’s Rainbow Week which usually takes place in April. Launched in 2012 (it’s worth noting that Pride parades have been taking place in Tokyo since way before there was an official festival), the event is intended to raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle (often viewed as being only a part of Western culture). Homosexuality is not illegal in Japan, nor does it suffer from religious-based discrimination like in many Western countries; however, it’s often misunderstood amid the culture’s strong traditional family values.
London, United Kingdom
Pride London will take place over nearly 2 months this year, from 28th May until mid-July with a bumper list of fun activities and events to get stuck into. One highlight not to miss is the popular Pride’s Got Talent, a talent show in the same mould as Simon Cowell’s global behemoth (190 acts took part in 2018!). We also love the sound of Wilma’s Ballsdropping Pride Bingo and the Dykes on Bikes Pre-Parade Ride & Picnic; if you’re looking to indulge in something quintessentially British while you’re in town, forget afternoon tea, there’s nothing more British than bingo and a (rain-spattered) picnic! Check out our tours in London for more ideas on what to see and do while you’re in town.
Prague, Czech Republic
Held in August each year, Prague Pride has been proudly running since 2011, offering a fascinating and eclectic agenda for revellers that include the parade, debates and discussions, sporting events and spiritual encounters. Urban Adventures’ Bohemian Tastes & Neighbourhoods tour is your perfect introduction to the city’s alternative and flamboyant past. Find out more about Pride in Prague from our resident guide, Barbora.