Pride parades are happening all over the world in the coming weeks as a celebration of love, diversity and LGBTQ+ equality. This year’s festivities are particularly poignant. This is because 2019 marking 50 years since the Stonewall Riots – the landmark event widely considered to have kick-started the gay liberation movement across America and, eventually, the world.
Streets in towns and cities across the globe are set to play host to gigantic, colourful parties. But, besides being ridiculously good fun, Pride also helps draw attention to queer history and highlight the discrimination faced by members of this community. We’ve selected our favourites events happening between now and the end of July and we’ve rounded up the Pride parades worth travelling for. So grab your rainbow flag, pack as much glitter as you can carry, and book yourself a flight to one of these hot destinations.
This Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people will gather in Brazil’s largest city for the world’s biggest Pride parade. While São Paulo isn’t exactly a great beauty, it is something of a foodie heaven. Plus, it has vibrant fashion and music scenes; innumerable art galleries, cultural centres and experimental theatres; and amazing nightlife. There’s no shortage of raucous underground bars and clubs to head to after the parade. You’ll no doubt find the best after parties happening in the queer neighbourhoods of Frei Caneca and Largo do Arouche. Direct flights from London to São Paulo take just less than 12 hours.
Started in 1981, Pride Toronto has evolved to become a month-long celebration. One of the most diverse of all Pride events, there’s a Trans March and a Dyke March that take place ahead of the main Pride parade. Once Pride’s over, there’s still an incredible amount to see and do in this buzzing Canadian city. Most attractions are clustered in downtown Toronto. This includes the famous CN Tower – dominating the Toronto skyline, it offers fantastic views across Lake Ontario. The cobblestone streets of the historic Distillery District are lined with some of the city’s best bars, restaurants and boutiques, and the spectacular Niagara Falls are just a two-hour drive away. If you fancy some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city, catch a ferry to the jewel-like Toronto Islands and spend a tranquil afternoon walking, cycling or lounging on the beach.
The highlight of Pride! BCN, Barcelona’s Pride parade will pass through the city on Saturday 29th June. It will culminate at Plaça Espanya with a series of concerts. This year, the headline act will be 90s pop sensation Vengaboys. With direct flights from London taking just over two hours, Barcelona is easy to get to, and it’s well-worth spending a few days in this charming Mediterranean city.
From hearty paella to Basque-style tapas, the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region boasts world-class dining, while its sun-drenched beaches offer opportunities for watersports, and art aficionados can get their fix at the celebrated Museu Picasso. One of the biggest draws, though, is the city’s fabled architecture. Still unfinished 93 years after his death, Antoni Gaudí’s extraordinary Sagrada Família is perhaps Barcelona’s most famous building. But there are many other masterpieces to ogle. These includie Casa Batllo, Park Güell and the huge Catedral de Barcelona in the Gothic Quarter.
As the birthplace of the Stonewall Riots, New York has always been a major player when it comes to Pride. But the celebration became even bigger this year when NYC was chosen to host WorldPride. Lectures, rallies and parties have been taking place since the start of June but the biggest events will happen towards the end of the month. More than 100 floats are expected to join the Pride March on Sunday 30th June, and stars including Cyndi Lauper, Chaka Khan and Grace Jones are set to perform at the WorldPride Opening Ceremony on Wednesday 26th.
If that redonkulous line-up isn’t reason enough to book a last-minute holiday to the Big Apple, surely iconic landmarks like Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and Grand Central Station seal the deal? Whether it’s your first visit, or you’ve been many times before, New York is a city that never fails to amaze. Culture abounds at top-notch museums, such as The Met, MOMA and The Guggenheim, while sports fans can catch a baseball game at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field – or head to Madison Square Garden to watch the Knicks or the Rangers. If you want to take a breather from the buzzing street life, make a beeline for one the city’s many green spaces – Central Park being the most famous. Alternatively, get a bird’s-eye view from atop the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock. And, whether it’s 9am, 7pm, or three o’clock in the morning, you’ll have no trouble finding sublime food in this culinary capital. As Walt Whitman wrote, “There is no place like it…”
With the biggest proportion of LGBT residents in America, and a widespread culture of tolerance and inclusivity, San Francisco has earned a reputation as the ‘gay capital of the world.’ While the city celebrates Pride throughout June, the official festivities take place over the last weekend of the month, with the main parade happening on Sunday 30th. However, as with many big city Pride events, it’s come under fire in recent years for becoming too corporate. Some people now consider the smaller marches – such as the Trans March and Dyke March – to be the real Pride events. Whichever event you choose to attend, though, you’ll find that the whole area between The Castro and Mission District will feel like one huge party, with many bars and clubs hosting their own shindigs.
Once the celebrations die down, and Pride comes to a close, make time to check out some of the city’s main attractions. Start your day by grabbing a coffee at the Ferry Building before heading to Pier 33, where you can board a boat to Alcatraz Island. Here, you’ll learn the history of the world’s most notorious prison. In the afternoon, take a ride on the city’s famous cable cars as you make your way over to Golden Gate Park. Read a book in one of the hidden meadows or explore the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden, where you’ll find carp-filled ponds, cherry blossom and bonsai trees. It’s then an easy walk to the famous Golden Gate Bridge, which links San Francisco to the scenic harbourside city of Sausalito.
On Saturday 6th July, more than 300 groups and floats will travel through our fair capital for Pride 2019. Starting in Portland Place, the parade will move south to Oxford Circus, and along Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus, before continuing down Lower Regent Street and Pall Mall. It will then pass through Trafalgar Square – where Pride’s Got Talent finalists will be performing under the watchful eye of Nelson’s Column – before finally finishing on Whitehall.
If you’re thinking about coming to Pride and planning to travel from elsewhere in the UK, why not extend your trip and enjoy a long weekend in London? Check out tourist hotspots like the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, or spend some time strolling around the city’s gorgeous green spaces. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping, Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Kensington Gardens and Hampstead Heath will offer respite from London’s busy streets. Alternatively, see the sights from the water on a Thames River Cruise, or sample local produce at Borough Market – located right next to London Bridge. The capital’s amazing museums and galleries – such as the British Museum, Science Museum, or the two Tate galleries – are the place to get head to get your culture fix.
From June 28th to July 7th, Madrid will play host to Europe’s biggest Pride – known in Spanish as the ‘Orgullo Gay de Madrid’. The city’s gay neighbourhood Chueca will be flooded with people attending ‘Orgullo’ events, while further unofficial parties take place in the hip bars around Malasaña. The climax of the whole thing, though, is the parade on Saturday 6th July, which will travel along the mile-long Paseo del Prado.
Madrid’s most famous boulevard, Paseo del Prado is also known as the ‘Art Walk’ as it’s where you will find the city’s big three museums – Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía. These cultural institutions are just some of attractions that you should visit on a trip to the Spanish capital. Take a tour around the lavish Palacio Real (or Royal Palace of Madrid) and marvel at the over-the-top decor or, if you’re a football fanatic, Real Madrid’s home stadium – the Santiago Bernabéu – should certainly be on your list.
Named after the street in New York’s Greenwich Village where the Stonewall Riots took place, Berlin’s Pride is known as Christopher Street Day. On 27th July, the CSD march will pass through the city and then, later, a rally with musical performances, talks and DJ sets will take place in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate, where the parade ends. Official and unofficial after parties will continue long into the night – and probably the following morning as well. Home to legendary nightclubs like Berghain and Tresor, Berlin is a city that knows how to party – so the events here are sure to be nothing short of incredible.
If you can find some time when you’re not revelling, it’s worth checking out some of the city’s historical and cultural sites. Starting at Checkpoint Charlie, trace the route of the Berlin Wall by bike or on foot, visit the neoclassic Reichstag – home of the German parliament – or take a trip to the Jewish Museum Berlin to learn about Jewish history and gain a deeper understanding of the holocaust. If you don’t have to time to cram that all in, fear not – with flights from the UK taking just over an hour and a half, it’s easy enough to go back.