There are only two months left until that time of year, a time where the LGBTQ+ community gathers by the hundreds, thousands, and even millions for what is best known as ‘Pride’ – celebrations, parades, and parties embracing equality, diversity, and the opportunity to let it all hang out! Some celebrations last only a weekend, while others are non-stop parties that go on for an entire week or longer. No matter where you are in the world, you’re bound to find a Pride celebration in a city near you.
To help celebrate its new limited-time Greek Week Pride trips that visit Athens Pride and Mykonos’ steamy XLSIOR festival, Contiki rounds up some of the top Pride festivals in the world that should be on everyone’s gaydar. So grab your favourite pair of party pants and heels, and get involved!
TEL AVIV PRIDE (JUNE 4-10, 2017)
The largest LGBTQ+ event in the Middle East, Tel Aviv Pride boasts over 50 events during the metropolis’ weeklong affair. Expect to encounter music, drag shows and the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, which features specially designed floats, marching groups and more. Watch the Tel Aviv Parade, themed “Bisexuality” this year, which begins at Me’ir Park and travels along the beautiful streets of Tel Aviv towards the city’s Charles Clore beach. Here, end your pride week with the festival’s famous beach party where thousands of people will enjoy live shows, bars and an amazing view of Tel Aviv’s blue beaches that is held until the sun goes down.
Travel tip: Air Canada and El Al both offer non-stop direct flights to Tel Aviv from Toronto, and non-stop direct flights from Montreal to Tel Aviv on Air Canada and Air Transat (seasonal). For more information, visit aircanada.com, elal.com or airtransat.com.
ATHENS PRIDE & XLSIOR FESTIVAL MYKONOS (ATHENS: JUNE 10, 2017; MYKONOS: AUGUST 23-30, 2017)
Beautiful beaches, even more beautiful people and ancient cultures collide in Greece. The “Cradle of Western Civilization” boasts something for everyone. Ready to hit up some of the world’s best circuit parties? Mykonos has you covered. Looking to soak in some culture? Check out the Acropolis museum and the other attractions in Athens. Sun-worshipper? Try island hopping through the country’s 2,000 islands. For those looking to explore the gayer side of Greece, Contiki has just introduced two new limited-time departures that will each coincide with two of the country’s most important Pride festivals: Athens Pride in early June and Mykonos Pride (officially called “XLSIOR”) in late August. For those hoping to soak in more culture than circuit, Athens is your destination, boasting iconic monuments (yaaas honey, that’s the Acropolis!), first-rate museums, lively cafés and al fresco dining. Smaller in size and more political in nature than its Mykonos cousin, Athens Pride has become a force to be reckoned with with over 20,000 people participating in 2014. Those looking to let loose and party the week away should head over to Mykonos, the centre of Greece’s gay universe that attracts tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ visitors every year. Mykonos has become famous for its wild nightlife, beautiful beaches and delightful maze of narrow streets with bright white architecture. The island gets even hotter with the arrival of the annual XLSIOR festival, one of the top circuit parties in the world. The in(famous) festival hosts some of the best major gay DJ’s in the world and brings together the “crème de la crème of the gay world”.
Travel tip: Contiki, the original youth travel brand, has just introduced its limited-time Greek Week Pride trips that caters to all millennials – gay, straight, don’t know and don’t care. Its 10-day “Greek Week, Athens Pride” trip (departing June 9th, 2017) features an extra day in Athens so you can kick the trip off with a welcome evening in the uber cool precinct of Gazi, one of the city’s main gay hubs, before diving into the festival to see first hand how the Greek capital celebrates Pride. The 9-day “Greek Week, Mykonos Pride” trip (departing August 24th, 2017) spends its time in Mykonos during the iconic festival, XLSIOR Mykonos, where sun, love and glistening bodies await. For more information, visit www.contiki.com/ca/en/greek-week-pride.
SÃO PAULO PRIDE (PARADE ON JUNE 18, 2017)
If you thought Rio Carnival in Brazil was an all-out party, check out São Paulo Pride, or Parada do Orgulho Gay GLBT de São Paulo in Portuguese – an annual party that has grown to see over five million party-goers, making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s biggest Pride celebration! The parade route begins at the Museum of Art of São Paulo, right in the Avenida Paulista and is 4.2 km long so you’ll know where to camp out to see the Parade, and get ready to shake what your mama gave you!
Travel tip: With over 12 million inhabitants, it’s no surprise that São Paulo has several ‘gaybourhoods’ dotted across the city. Most of the “village life” is concentrated on Avenida de Carvalho in the Largo do Arouche/Centro district (akin to New York’s West Village in the 80’s), but opt to explore the other neighbourhoods such as Frei Caneca/Consolação, Pinheiros and Jardins for a better feel of the metropolis and its Paulistanos.
SAN FRANCISCO PRIDE (JUNE 24-25, 2017)
Celebrating its 47th year, San Francisco Pride is one of the world’s leaders in the Pride movement. It is San Francisco, one of the world’s original gay meccas that was home to the first openly gay man to be elected to public office, after all. This year, the theme of the parade is “A Celebration of Diversity” and there are plans to have over 200 parade contingents, 300 exhibitors, and more than twenty community-run stages and venues during the celebration. You can watch the Parade from the official Grandstand seating at the United Nations Plaza, or find a spot along Market Street between Beale to 8th Street. Want to catch the headline acts? Head to the Main Stage at the Civic Center Plaza next to City Hall – past performers at SF Pride have included The Backstreet Boys, Nina Sky, Lady Gaga, and Sandra Bernhard, just to name a few!
Travel tip: After a day-long romp on the parade route, nothing beats the California heat quite like a cup of ice cream! Head to the famous Three Twins ice cream shop for a scoop of some aptly named Pride ice cream flavours. Past cheeky names include “Freedom to Marry Cherry”, “Harvey Milk and Honey”, “Matcha Matcha Man” and the zinger (for those in the know), “2 Tops Don’t Make a Bottom”. 254 Fillmore Street, threetwinsicecream.com
WORLDPRIDE MADRID (JUNE 23-JULY 2, 2017)
Want to celebrate orgullo (pride en Español) with a Spanish flair? This year Madrid Pride, the largest gay Pride event in Spain garnering crowds of over two million people, will be marking two big fat gay milestones. Not only does 2017 mark the 40th anniversary of the first LGBTIQ pride parade in Spain, but Madrid will also play host to this year’s WorldPride celebrations – a global Pride event held in a different city around the world. The epicentre of the world’s largest Pride event will be in the city’s main gay barrio of Chueca boasting open air concerts, different performing stages, parties, art, culture, sport and oh so much more. The weeklong festival will celebrate, discuss and show diversity through summits promoting human and LGBTQ+ rights, sporting competitions, culture at the muestra•t and La Culta festivals, the WorldPride Park featuring a community space and of course, the Pride parade that will travel along Paseo del Prado, one of Madrid´s main streets, culminating at the Plaza de Colón where a stage will welcome all the participants with music.
Travel tip: For a breather from the noise and craziness of Madrid Pride, try a ride on the teleferico (cable car), which will take you out to the middle of the enormous Casa de Campo park. Buy a single ticket starting at Rosales (4€) and when you reach the top, enjoy the stunning skyline of Europe’s highest capital city. Need a cure for that Pride hangover? Take a walk down to Lago, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy tapas by the lake. “From Madrid to the sky,” as the Madrileños say! For more information, visit teleferico.com.