This year, Pride parades, protests and celebrations around the world are commemorating an important landmark. On June 28, it will have been 50 years since the Stonewall uprising in 1969: an event that kickstarted the gay liberation movement which, over the last five decades, has developed into the global fight for LGBT+ rights.
While today’s Pride celebrations can feel less political than those early marches, this year the significance of Stonewall’s anniversary can’t be downplayed. Not that the extra dose of history means that Pride 2019 will be a snoozefest: this year there’ll be some of the biggest ever parties, kikis and parades happening all around the world where you can fly your rainbow flag.
You can celebrate Pride at its birthplace in New York, which hosts Worldpride this year, or venture to Iceland for Reykjavik Pride. Meanwhile, Pride in São Paulo takes on an element of urgency owing to the political situation in Brazil, proving that Pride still serves an important purpose in gathering together the different strands of the LGBT+ community (and its allies) for a show of solidarity and a reminder that there are still prejudices to overcome.
So pack your best wigs, your highest heels and as much glitter as you can legally carry and get ready to travel. Here are just a few of the best places around the world to celebrate Pride in 2019.
Where to celebrate Pride across the world
New York, June
This year is a significant one for all Pride events, but particularly for New York, as the city marks 50 years since the Stonewall riots, where trans women, drag queens and queer kids kickstarted the gay liberation movement. The usual, and huge, Pride March takes place on June 30, but NYC is also hosting Worldpride for the whole month, so it will be taken over by even more massive parties and events. Times Square will host the closing party action, but all over the city there’ll be talks and celebrations. We’re even hearing rumours that the queen herself, Madonna, may perform…
Spread over June and with parades in the last week of the month, Pride Toronto is one of the world’s biggest celebrations. It’s also one of the most diverse, with a Dyke March and Trans March as well as the Pride Parade. Then there are the parties, which happen everywhere from the Royal Ontario Museum to inside an aquarium. On Sunday June 23, head away from the Gay Village and visit TreeHouse Party, an all-day rave featuring drag queens and DJ sets from likes of The Black Madonna – ticket proceeds go to The 519, the city’s LGBT+ centre.
Disneyland Paris, June 1
Sure, some have bemoaned Pride getting more and more commercial, but what could be more fabulous than celebrating being queer with Mickey and the gang? Disneyland Paris’s Magical Pride features live performances from Years & Years and Corine, with the theme park hosting a new March of Diversity Parade. Meet your fave Disney characters or have a go on selected rides well into the night. Though, really, we just want to ride the teacups with a drag queen.
Vienna, June 1-16
‘Together and Proud’ is the theme of this year’s Europride, which lands in Vienna in June. Along with heaps of official events – from days at the beach to cocktail parties – Vienna is bucking the trend of paid Pride events, making access to the Europride Village, Park and Parade (June 15) free of charge. If Pride is all about partying for you, book to stay near Wienzeile, where the city’s LGBT+ nightlife is concentrated. This year, the biggest event is the official Pride afterparty at The Circus Club (June 15). But hey, with anything up to a million people expected to join in this Pride celebration, there’ll be way more than one chance to get together with the queer community.
Tel Aviv, June 9-14
It’s probably worth getting yourself a TLV19 Party Pass, which gives you entry to either three or five parties during the week’s festivities in Tel Aviv. With temperatures in the mid-twenties, you’ll be able to celebrate at rooftop kikis or party in a water park. The final stop on Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade (June 14) is Charles Clore Park, where celebrations inevitably spill out on to the beach and carry on till sunset. Pack your Speedos for party time.
São Paulo, June 23
Last year, 3 million people took to the streets to celebrate Pride in São Paulo. With the current political climate in Brazil, this year’s event feels more essential than ever. Hopefully the crowds will still show up in solidarity with the LGBT+ community and in the face of hate to put on the biggest Pride party the world has ever seen. Hot spots for partying should emerge in the queer neighbourhoods of Frei Caneca and Largo do Arouche.
San Francisco, June 29-30
Like many big city Pride events, San Francisco’s parade has been accused of being overrun with corporate floats, taking away from the spirit of Pride. Well, that hasn’t stopped the city’s flourishing LGBT+ community from creating their own kind of party. On the Friday before Pride, the Trans March (the largest trans Pride event in the US) takes place in and around Mission Dolores Park, while on the Saturday of Pride weekend, many bars and clubs host their own shindigs. People even open up their homes for the day, with the area between The Castro and Mission District feeling like one ginormous street party. If leather and fetish gear are your kink, hold off your visit for the Folsom Street Fair, an inclusive festival taking place on September 29.
London, July 6
Pride in London has gone through a bit of an identity crisis over the past two decades, and last year’s made headlines after transphobic banners appeared in the parade. Nevertheless, it can be a magical day, especially seeing marchers down Regent Street and dancing in Soho. For a more authentic party, UK Black Pride takes place the following day – a pure celebration for queer people of colour, the day is not only fun but there’s a feeling of true purpose and protest. Just announced for September is the first ever Transgender Pride Festival, filled with poignant talks and performances. It’s all a reminder of why Pride takes place: to give queer communities a safe space to celebrate and express themselves.
Madrid, June 28-July 7
As Europe’s biggest Pride, Madrid’s celebration feels more like a festival than a rally. The city’s gay neighbourhood Chueca is flooded with people and, more importantly, parties, while unofficial antics often take place in Malasaña. The pervasive We Pride Festival takes over a number of venues for three days with the biggest DJs, hottest boys and most fabulous drag queens. The parade itself is on July 6 and runs from 5pm to midnight. It starts at Atocha Station and ends in Plaza de Colón, where a massive stage hosts performers and talks. Before the parade, there are heaps of cultural events, such as art exhibitions, film screenings and the now famous high heels race (okay, maybe it’s not that cultural).
Berlin, July 27
Named after the street in New York where the Stonewall riots took place, Berlin’s CSD is split into two sections: the parade – which sets off from Ku’damm and Joachimsthaler Strasse and ends at the Brandenburg Gate; and the rally – a stage with musical performances, talks and DJs. On the previous weekend, you’ll also find the Lesbian & Gay City Festival, a two-day celebration in the neighbourhood of Nollendorfplatz, which hosts street food stalls, music and dancing. As this is Berlin, there’s plenty that’s alternative too. Keep an eye out for breakaway marches with politics at the forefront. If crowds are too much for you, check out the queer picnic at Volkspark Hasenheide, an inclusive space regardless of sexuality or gender identity. And finally, with Berlin’s diverse club scene (where basically anything goes), afterparties will be thriving.
Reykjavik, August 8-17
Now in its twentieth year, Reykjavik Pride (or Hinsegindagar, which translates as Queer Days) is usually attended by nearly a third of the country’s population. And this year, the celebrations are being extended by four days, kicking off with an opening ceremony on August 8 and ending with the Pride Parade plus a day festival and party on August 17. In previous years, the city has welcomed volunteers to paint a big rainbow downtown, with the location changing each time. There’s usually a dedicated family march for even more inclusivity. And then there’s the queer cruise (no, not that kind): a party boat that sails around the small islands and the coast of Reykjavik. Truly an open event, there was one year when the city’s mayor marched in the parade in full drag. You better werk.
Manchester, August 23-26
There might have been a bit of backlash about ticket prices for the live music aspect of this year’s Manchester Pride (with Ariana Grande headlining) but that doesn’t mean celebrating Pride in the city has to be extortionate. The parade (August 24) is still free to attend and this year’s theme is ‘Deep Space Pride: A Future World of Equality’, asking attendees to imagine what the world will look like for future LGBT+ communities. The Pride Village has stalls, performances and even a singalong cinema, and tickets are much more affordable there. And, of course, the city’s gay village Canal Street will be abuzz. But if you’re after something a little less hedonistic, the free-to-attend Superbia Weekend is an alcohol-free cultural space with a focus on conversations, cabaret, workshops and art.
Sydney, February 29 2020
The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the world’s most famous LGBT+ festivals. Although it’s held out of Pride season, the event draws the big guns, with Cher and Kylie (naturally) both dropping by to perform in recent years. As well as the massive parade, there are events on other dates such as the Strictly Kaftan Party (where floaty beachwear is compulsory), club nights, pool parties, family-friendly events and Queer Art After Hours, which encompasses everything from DJ sets to guided art tours by drag queens. Time to get saving for a visit Down Under.