LGBTQA+ Pride is celebrated in many different ways and at various times throughout the year, but the things they all have in common is that they are all celebrations of diversity, acts of recognition for those who fought before us and, most importantly, a signal to the world that the only way to go is forward.
It is a time of looking back to where we have been so we can get a better handle on where we need to go.
Also, they're generally all huge parties, with a few notable exceptions we'll go over.
If you are thinking about doing something different for Pride, this guide will help you get a feel for the various celebrations around the world so you can plan your next adventure. Here's a brief look at the hows, whys, and whens of gay pride celebrations on each continent.
Gay Pride North America
North American Pride celebrations are generally held throughout the month of June in recognition of the Stonewall Riots, an event that is widely recognized as the crucial turning point for gay rights and acceptance in the Western World.
New York City
The first Pride celebration wasn't a celebration at all. It was a riot that resulted from a population of oppressed people who had finally had enough. That riot occurred in NYC and the sparks of defiance that were set loose here ignited an unstoppable fire of resistance that swept the United States and sent ripples of resistance across the whole Western World.
The main parade usually takes place near the end of June, but there are events all throughout the month. If you're making a pilgrimage to great Pride events, going to NYC for Pride is a no-brainer.
San Francisco boasts one of the oldest and most raucous Pride celebrations in the world. The first Pride parade to be held here was actually a protest march along Polk St. to Golden Gate Park where a "gay in" was to be held. What started as a simple act of defiance ballooned into one of the largest, most famous Pride celebrations in the world, right up there with Sao Paolo and Toronto!
The Parade itself is the capstone of a two-day festival which is traditionally held on the last weekend of June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. This is another must-see event for any Pride world-adventurer!
Toronto Pride is one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world and, like NYC, was born of people lashing out against police repression. Mass protests broke out after police raided four bathhouses in Toronto and ended up being the largest mass-arrest in Canadian history. The events of the bathhouse raids, also known as Operation Soap, are considered to be the crucial flashpoint for gay rights and resistance in Canada- sort of like the Stonewall riots were for the US.
Most of the action of the festival takes place in a massive 22-block zone that is completely closed to traffic. These events traditionally take place during the last week of June and Toronto Pride is considered to be one of the largest cultural festivals in North America. Definitely worth a look!
Calgary's first Pride parade was in 1990 and is notable because most of the marchers wore paper bags and masks, both to conceal their identity to avoid persecution and as a form of protest highlighting the feelings fear and oppression that come from being ostensibly forced to remain in the closet.
The event is also notable because the mayor at the time actually made a public proclamation of Pride week. This proclamation was later rejected by the local LGBTQ+ community who defiantly and publicly set their own agendas independently from local government from that point on. The spirit of rebellion against oppressive civil authority continues to this day and Calgary is one of the few Pride events that specifically excludes an official police presence in the parade.
Calgary Pride events take place over a massive, ten-day festival, usually during the last week of August.
Mexico City is massive and famous for its gay nightlife. So, you would imagine they must put on one helluva party when Pride rolls around and you would be 100% correct! This sprawling, million-plus-person event has been in full-swing every year since 1978 and it just gets bigger and better with every passing year. These cats know how to party!
The events usually take place around the end of June and surround the main parade. The events are centered in the city's gay neighborhood known as Zona Rosa. Get ready for wild parties, awesome street-food, and an atmosphere that absolutely oozes with music and rhythm. This is easily one of the biggest parties in the world, Pride or otherwise!
Gay Pride South America
South America is a region of the world were people really started to openly embrace the LGBTQ+ community once the floodgates were opened. Like everywhere else in the world, this region has a bloody, cruel history of human rights abuses toward LGBTQ+ people, but there are few places in the world where acceptance and even normalization of alternative sexual lifestyles has taken hold so strongly. They also throw some of the best parties in the world, bar none! Here's what's cookin' down South!
If you haven't heard the legends of São Paulo Pride celebrations, you're missing out. Their celebration is recognized as the biggest Pride celebration in the world and is celebrated with all of the gusto you'd expect from the party-loving Brazilians who put it on. This isn't an event, it's an experience.
Massive floats with explosive colors and booming, rhythmic music and half-naked, feather-bedecked drag queens run wild in the streets leaving music, laughter, and drunken revelry in their wake. The smell of street food and gunpowder from fireworks permeates everything, and everywhere you go you find a friendly smile and a fresh drink. You won't be the same afterward, we promise!
Festivities are generally held in mid to late June with random parties and events popping up throughout the month of June.
The first thing you should know about Buenos Aires is that it is pretty much a year-round party, anyway. It is a city known for it's vibrant nightlife, great food, European charm, and loose sexual inhibitions. It's a perfect storm for an amazing Pride celebration.
The events take place every year in November and kick off with a massive pre-party followed by a parade and, of course, more partying afterward. There is a giant market where you can buy all sorts of rainbow gewgaws and other souvenirs of your time in Argentina. Also, the street food is out of this world, if you like meat!
The party usually kicks off around the end of October or in early November.
Uruguay is an exceedingly forward-thinking country that prides itself on its egalitarianism. Like Pride events all over the world, the coalition that organizes the events was formed from diverse groups of LGBTQ+ folks who came together and took a stand for diversity. Since then, they have managed to win the fight for marriage equality, Uruguay legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, and are making swift progress on a sweeping Trans protection law that offers full protections and the right to any medical procedures or medication required to make a person comfortable in their own skin.
While it may not be the biggest or flashiest Pride celebration, it is easily one of the friendliest and most welcoming. The smell of wood smoke, choripan, and the pulsing and pounding of the ubiquitous Candombe drumming create an atmosphere that is both welcoming and vibrant.
If you're looking for a more low-key celebration that focuses more on people than spectacle, Montevideo's Marcha Por La Diversidad is sure to please. The march takes place in September, Uruguay's recognized Pride month.
Gay Pride is the biggest party in Rio after its famously bombastic Carnaval celebrations, and in a country that parties as hard and often as Brazil, that's really saying something. While not as big and spectacular as the festivities in São Paulo, Rio's events are the product of a city that really never stops partying at all and it shows.
You get all of the usual stuff you'd expect from a Pride celebration and parade, colorful floats, fireworks, music, and outrageous outfits, but the real treasures are reserved for the parties that are put on by local bars and clubs. Pop down to Ipanema Beach and you will find unbelievably hot guys handing out fliers for events all over the area. Wild parties, loose inhibitions, and metric tons of alcohol await those willing to do a little exploring. Oh, did we mention that most of these events feature food, drink, and lively music without a cover charge? Try the caiparinhas, they're divine!
Rio Pride usually takes place around the end of September into early October.
Columbia used to be an absolute no-go as far as Gay rights and safety were concerned, but things have come a long way quickly and what was once a bastion of violent homophobia has blossomed into one of the most colorful, diverse, and safe Pride festivals in Latin America.
Bogota Pride is best known for its after-parties, especially the mega-fiesta that takes place at Theatron, a massive complex of 13 gay nightclubs all under one roof that often boasts a collective attendance of 50, 000 people or more. Amazing cumbia, delicious food, and non-stop partying await!
Events take place around the end of June into early July.
Gay Pride Europe
Europe has long been a bastion of sexual openness and acceptance, and this history has made for celebrations that are as diverse and unique as the communities who hold them. Some of the most famous Pride celebrations in the world are held in Europe, and the biggest problem facing any Pride adventurer is deciding on which to attend.
Here is a rundown of some of the European Pride events that are widely recognized as the best the continent has to offer!
The Pride parade in Madrid is the biggest in Europe and one of the biggest in the world. What started out as a small street celebration in the '80s has exploded into what is considered to be the largest urban celebration in Europe.
Madrid Pride is known for its cosmopolitan vibe because nearly 25% of the attendees are travelers from abroad. This has led to an extremely open and inviting atmosphere that ignites into a raucous party that spans the city and features massive, open-air concerts, vendors, street theater, and so much more. If you're going to Pride in Europe, you'd be bonkers not to have Madrid on your short list of choices! Don't miss the high-heel footrace down Calle Palayo, it's a huge fan favorite!
Events kick off in early July.
Paris is widely considered to be one of the most welcoming Pride events in all of Europe. The main event is the massive street parade that is followed by a free party that takes place at either the Place de la République or the Place de la Bastille, depending on the parade's route.
The week leading up to the main event is filled with parties at gay clubs and bars all over the famously beautiful city of Paris. Whether you are looking for a couples getaway or are on the prowl for some random fun with strangers, you couldn't do much better than the most romantic, free-thinking city in the world!
Events take place around the end of June.
London Pride boasts one of the most diverse gatherings in Europe. Not so much a single event as a collection of over 60 major events, this is a Pride celebration that doesn't give you an excuse to be bored. Music, spoken word, speeches, cabaret, and bumpin' parties at the numerous London gay clubs are just the tip of the activities iceberg.
The Sunday following Pride features a lower-key celebration in the park that includes a dog shows, baking competitions, sports, and is held in conjunction with UK Black Pride.
Events take place in early June.
Berlin is already an extremely popular gay tourist destination and party city on any given day of the year, but the city explodes with revelry like no other when Pride rolls around. Featuring one of Europe's most well-put-together Pride Villages and plenty of satellite events surrounding the main celebration, Berlin Pride has a little bit of something for everyone.
Whether you are looking for low-key cultural events or wild, drunken leather parties, Berlin will not fail to deliver and then some. Events take place in Late July.
Stockholm Pride is fairly unique in that the celebration is broken up into separate "neighborhoods", each catering to different tastes. There is the Main Stage where popular music from diverse genres is performed. contrasted to the main stage, there is the Rainbow Stage, which features stand-up, theatre, and poetry performances. If you're into fetish, BDSM, or leather, then the Kinky Neighborhood is probably more up your alley.
If you're looking for a Pride event that is diverse, well-organized, and chock-full of cultural events and partying, you might just want to be in Stockholm from early August to early July!
Gay Pride Asia
Asia is a big place that encompasses such diverse places as Tel Aviv in Israel and Manilla in the Philippines. So, it is hard to make any sweeping statements about the flavor and vibe of these events because they are simply too culturally diverse to be contained in a simple blurb.
So, perhaps it would be better to tell you about some of the events taking place across this massive region and let each speak for itself. Here's what's poppin' for Pride across Asia!
The absolute warmth and true-believer enthusiasm you see put on display by the people of Tokyo at Tokyo Pride stands in stark contrast to the draconian positions held by their civil authorities. Japan's government actually requires trans people to be sterilized before they are legally allowed to transition and same-sex marriage is still illegal.
Luckily, the horrific stance of Japan's civil authorities has only strengthened the Japanese LGBTQ+ communities resolve to party hard in the face of oppression while still keeping their eyes on the serious work of improving their treatment by society as a whole.
Pride Tokyo is a nice mix of activism and celebration that really hits the sweet spot for the right type of gay adventurer. In addition to the marchers campaigning for equal treatment under the law, many people line the parade route simply to show their support for the marchers and businesses along the route change often change their signage to show their support as well. While that might sound like Rainbow Capitalism on paper, it really doesn't come off that way on the ground.
If you're looking for a pride event that feels more like the old days of Pride in Western countries before all of the corporate influence and money-grabbing started, check out Tokyo while the vibe still lasts!
Tai Pei's gay pride celebration is the largest in East Asia and the second largest in Asia as a whole, after Tel Aviv's. Like many Pride events taking place outside of the Western world, the commercial aspect of Pride isn't as obvious. In fact, there are even complaints that there isn't enough corporate sponsorship of Pride in Taiwan.
The lack of a heavy corporate presence makes for a more grassroots, tight-knit sort of atmosphere that is closer to the old days of Pride in the West before credit card companies and beer vendors realized they were missing an untapped market. Instead of corporate booths and stalls, you find LGBTQ+ charities and organizations accepting donations to advance the cause, as well as the usual private art and craft vendors and, of course, street food!
Events are held starting on the last Saturday of October.
Tel Aviv is not only the largest Pride event in Asia, but it is the second largest in the world, putting it in the running for one of the biggest parties in the world! every year, tens of thousands of travelers from all around the world flood the beaches, bars, and restaurants of Tel Aviv to enjoy the sun and festivities of one of the world's most popular gay destinations.
The events calendar is crammed with more DJs, food vendors, open-air concerts, talks, and workshops than any one person could ever enjoy in a single trip. So, plan your party wisely!
Events start on June 9th and run through the fourteenth.
The first Pride celebration on the mainland of China took place in Beijing in 2009 and many of the planned events were shut down by the authorities. Since then, things have opened up a lot and Beijing's gay cultural scene has experienced a quantum leap in growth. New gay bars, clubs, and businesses are popping up all over the city and there is even a LGBTQ+ center that has been built. while there is still a long way to go in the fight for recognition and protection from civil authorities, the people of Beijing are opening up to the idea much more quickly. Beijing is ranked second only to the extremely cosmopolitan Shanghai in gay friendliness and things to do.
In addition to all of the festivities, visiting Beijing offers you a unique opportunity to see some pretty serious sites, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Great Wall is only 60 kilometers away from the city.
Over 235 organizations and 25,000 participants come together to put on one of the most spectacular events in the world, let alone Asia. Famous for their performing arts, the Filipinos make sure that Manila's Pride celebration is stuffed with concerts and performances from a diverse range of genres and media.
While the parties are great, Pride in Manilla is still rooted in a spirit of protest and that fact is made obvious with 2019's motto, "Resist Together". Manilla Pride is the perfect blend of party and protest and the atmosphere is electric.
Events get rolling on June 29th.
Australia And The South Pacific
It felt weird to have a guide divided by continent and then have one whole continent that is a single country. So, we threw New Zealand into the mix, as well. The land down under is known for its wacky, often dangerous wildlife, an inherently adventurous zeitgeist, and a laid-back, casual atmosphere that welcomes travelers of all stripe warmly.
Some of the greatest beaches and diving in the world can be found here and, at the same time, you could also go see some penguins if the mood struck you. The land down under is a big place with a diverse population who fiercely value their individuality. Sounds like a perfect place to party for Pride! Here's what's shakin'!
Sydney's Pride events are closer to a Mardi Gras celebration than anything and are actually called Mardi Gras colloquially. The celebration, like many, began as a demonstration in response to the Stonewall Riots and grew into one of the world's biggest parties from there.
Sydney's Pride events are known most for the beach drag races, sports events, outrageously elaborate parade floats, and for being an all-around, light-hearted, debauch. All of that in addition to the usual booths, vendors, street performers, and great food you get at any Pride event.
Events take place in February and often coincide with Mardi Gras.
New Zealand is a relatively small country with a fairly sparse population. but when they come together to party, you'd never know it! The great thing about Auckland's Pride events is that they are organized by a small, local committee and that means they more accurately reflect the zeitgeist of the area. If you really want a taste of Gay New Zealand, there is no better place to see it on display than Pride in Auckland.
The events are opened with traditional Maori chanting and the blowing of a seashell trumpet to herald the beginning of an outrageous party that will still be going on long after you have passed out. It's a unique experience you won't find anywhere else!
Events span the month of February.
Africa is not the first place even the most adventurous Pride traveler would consider for their next destination and for good reason. While it is all too common for people to lump the diverse cultures of the African continent under on umbrella, the fact of the matter is that one thing these diverse cultures seem to have in common is a decidedly violent and deep-seated aversion to sexual diversity.
With the possible exception of South Africa, which has other problems of its own at the moment, most of these countries would be borderline suicidal to visit for Pride celebrations, in the few places where they even exist.
If there is one spot in the world that the LGBTQ+ fight for equality is in more need of support, it would have to be Africa. Instead of traveling to these countries to support their Pride events, it might be better to help out by finding helpful organizations that work in the region to improve the standing of LGBTQ+ folks in their respective societies.
We really wish we could recommend an awesome African Pride celebration, but homosexuality is punishable under the law in 34 of the countries of this sprawling continent, sometimes by death. In countries where it isn't explicitly banned by law, LGBTQ+ folks are still treated as second-class citizens and face very real danger just for being who they are.