Top Gay Pride Destinations (US and International)
What would have seen unimaginable just a few decades ago is now not even a question these days as members of the LGBTQ+ community celebrate Pride festivals freely all over the world. Pride events are a global phenomenon now, and the problem travelers will have is narrowing down the many cities in which to celebrate diversity across the globe. Festivals have only gotten bolder and grander over the last decade, with many cities becoming go-to destinations for the events that previously would have never made the cut. It’s not only in the United States that LGBTQ+ members can ring in the festivities and celebrate the history and culture, but there are several locales in Europe that are on a mission to promote equality and human rights that should not be missed. They may not be as big and well known as other cities, but if you have not checked out some of these cities, do so for Pride and live it up on your next vacation!
New York City
The Big Apple has always been the frontrunner when it comes to all things progressive, and since the Stonewall Riot in 1970, the city is celebrating nearly 50 years of Pride celebration, with mid-June attracting approximately 40,000 marchers for the annual parade. There are millions of participants aside from the parade as well enjoying the related events that happen in the city over the course of the weekend, including wild street festivals, themed dance parties, and celebrity sightings galore. For a city that truly never sleeps, NYC is the one you want to take a bite out of for a Gay Pride festival like no other.
While many may not think of Mexico as a top destination for gay travelers, Puerto Vallarta has long received acclaim for being a welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ visitors, attracting hundreds of thousands of attendees for its Pride celebration in mid to late May to their gorgeous beaches. The entire city jumps into the celebration and the floats that line the streets turn this festive town into a major block party that is picturesque beyond words. The famous Drag Derby is one event here that the city is known for during Gay Pride and any that view it live have bragging rights for life.
The Netherlands has long led the world as a nation that is a step ahead of other nations when it comes to equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, and it is no coincidence that their Pride celebration is one of the most popular destinations in the world during the month of August. During the week of festivities, nearly 100 vessels work their way through the city’s canal system, with spectacle after spectacle to be seen on each, with nearly half a million spectators cheering them on.
Australia may be Down Under, but their annual LGBTQ+ Pride event, known officially as the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras’ is definitely a contender for one of the top destinations because of its sheer size alone. The event is one of the few in the world that occurs over multiple weeks – from mid-February to mid-March -and boasts more than one hundred official events that include comedy festivals, community fairs, pool parties (read: Speedos), and of course, the official Pride parade Every year, some of Australia’s biggest artists headline, with past performers including Kylie Minogue, Cyndi Lauper, and yes, the iconic Cher.
Known in the country as ‘Orgullo Gay’, which translates to Gay Pride, Madrid’s festival begins the first Saturday after June 28th and is spearheaded by several national groups in the country that collectively band together to draw attention to the LGBTQ+ community. Since Franco died and democracy returned to the country, Spain has been courted by some of the world’s largest companies that support the parade with sponsor revenue. Madrid also has the largest gay demonstration in the entire continent, with nearly 1.5 million participants annually.
Germany’s capital city is known for lots of things, and the annual Berlin Pride Celebration is just one o the many festivals in the city during June that brings the LGBTQ+ community together in a grandiose way. Known as the CSD Berlin for Christopher Street Day, the event has been in the city since 1979 and is one of the biggest in the world. The mission is to support equal rights for all members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as celebrate gay (counter) culture.
Since legalizing gay marriage only a few years ago in 2015, Ireland’s Gay Pride festivities have only increased ten-fold, with many attendees coming to the city in the summer to bask in the green hills of the countryside and party the week away with a massive parade at the end of June. The country also has one other fact members of the LGBTQ+ community may like: it is the first Pride event to be headed by an openly gay Prime Minister.
Canada’s Pride began as a reference to NYC’s Stonewall as part of the protest against raids of the city’s bathhouses in the late 70s. Since that time, Canada has made great strides within the LGBTQ+ community, now boasting one of the biggest Pride celebrations in the world, with the country ranked near the top of the list in the world for countries that are the most protective of LGBTQ+ rights. Throughout the month of June, that acceptance is on full display, including the Dyke March, Shabbat dinner, Trans March, and of course the traditional parade that attracts nearly half a million spectators.
Any of these destinations are sure to make the cut, so plan accordingly and remove them from your bucket list year by year!