Top 10 European Gay Pride Events 2014/15

File:Blank political map Europe in 2006 WF.svgEarlier this year, Northern Cyprus became the last territory in Europe to decriminalise homosexuality; making Europe an ideal destination for celebrating sexuality and gender without fear of persecution. Of course, homophobia still exists but (importantly) it no longer exists with state sanction.

Europe might be considered safe to visit, but it’s important to stay abreast of up-to-date travel information. The FCO website provides UK citizens with all the latest information and travel advice as well as precautionary measures for areas where special discretion is advised.

Of course, you don’t need to go abroad to have a fantastic pride experience, and we’ve already posted here about UK events.

But isn’t it a fabulous excuse for a trip to the continent?

Pride can mean many things to many people. For some, it’s a political rally: an opportunity to consolidate social and legal victories. For others, it’s a time for solidarity with LGBT communities in areas where discrimination and persecution still occur. For others, pride is a social occasion – a creative celebration of sexuality and gender as an endorsement and enthusiastic expression of gay culture.

For almost everybody, pride will be a combination of all these things.

The 2014/15 European pride season is looking to be bigger than ever, and below you’ll find a selection of the best and brightest that Europe has to offer.  If you’re heading to pride this year, then we’d love to hear about your experiences either through our Twitter and Facebook pages or via the contact form at the bottom of this post.

File:Guildhouses Antwerp.jpgAntwerp is celebrating its sixth annual pride from August 4th - 10th with events that include: open-air parties, barbecues, breakfasts, waterway cruises and fetish nights. On the final night of festivities, Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst, will perform before expectant crowds. Incidentally, what’s interesting about Antwerp Pride is how it’s paid for. Unlike other commercially funded events, Antwerp Pride is partially financed by the city’s tourism department in the hope that it will be recognised as a gay friendly destination.

File:PragueCityscape.JPGThe Czech capital of Prague will play host to the country’s largest pride event between the 11th and 17th of August. Organisers are expecting crowds in excess of 20,000 people with the main parade taking place on August 16th.  As many of the gay bars are in the old town, it’s a perfect opportunity for some cultural sightseeing, too. This year’s theme is “differences and similarities” and it hopes to highlight the importance of a close relationship between East and West. There’ll certainly be plenty to do: church services, beach volleyball, art exhibitions, parties, and parades to mention but a few.

File:Tejeda Gran Canaria Spain.JPGPrefer your pride a little sunnier? Or a little saucier? Then how about Gran Canaria’s Dunas Festival between the 12th and 17th of August.  It may not be the most highbrow of pride options this year, but you certainly won’t be bored (or sober). This year’s program includes pool parties, boozy boat trips, live DJs and male-only night club events. The emphasis of the evening entertainment though, does seem targeted to a male audience and lesbians might feel a bit excluded. However, Gran Canaria is a fantastic destination in its own right and there’s more than enough bars and beaches to satisfy the appetite of any party animal.

File:Copenhagen - the little mermaid statue - 2013.jpg
Copenhagen Pride is happening 27th – 31st August with events centred in City Hall Square (renamed Pride Square for 3 days).  There will be a number of permanent exhibitions taking place there including a focus on LGBT asylum seekers as well as an exploration into the sexuality of the disabled.  Other events include: workshops for school children; Zumba; dancing; stand-up comedy; live music; speakers; late-night parties as well as a parade.

Back in Spain, it’s Benidorm Pride from September 12th until 14th.  Organisers promise a real party atmosphere with three free open-air events. Most of the gay bars are in the old town, but there’s plenty happening everywhere else, too. Party goers can expect a typical Benidorm atmosphere with a Benidorm’s got talent; drag competitions; art exhibitions; sunset parties and more.

In the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, there’s Queer Lisboa: a celebration of LGBT cinema. Happening over 19th – 27th September, it aims to highlight the often overlooked genre of homosexual and transgender cinema.  There’ll be screening of films submitted for the festival as well as awards for best film, best actor and best actress among others.

File:Wilhelm Gause Hofball in Wien.jpgFor something completely different there’s the Viennese Rainbow Ball which takes place on January 31st 2015. Now in its eighteenth year, the ball embodies the classic sophistication of the Viennese formal dance. Held at the stately Parkhotel Schönbrunn, the ball has a strict formal dress code for both sexes and any money raised during the evening will be donated to Austria’s largest LGBT charity.

If you’d rather be sleeping in the centre of the action, then, from 13 to 16th March, there’s Sugarland in Belgium. A bungalow park near to the village of Mol is taken over for three nights to host as an exclusive party venue. There’s plenty to do across the site with bars, restaurants, pool parties and evening entertainment. Oh, and there’s a hotel, too, if you don’t fancy bungalow life.

File:Snow covered mountain peaks.jpgMarch 21st 2015 kicks of European Gay Ski Week in the French alpine resort of Avoriaz. Only 1.5 hours from Geneva, Avoriaz was recently voted the “number 1 snowiest resort in France” by The Financial Times. An expected 1,000 guests are set to arrive during the week and as a ski-in ski-out resort it’s likely that the charm will extend off the slopes too. Not, of course, that it’s just about skiing. There’s bars, restaurants and clubs as well as an indoor water-park with views across the peaks.

In June, it’s Vienna Pride and the Austrian capital looks set to be transformed.  In addition to the usual parades and parties, Vienna Pride is keen to show its solidarity for LGBT communities across the world. Expect a moving tribute to those who have died of AIDs and those who have suffered as victims of homophobic of transphobic violence. 100,000 people are expected to attend with plenty to occupy them all including: club nights, live DJs, parties as well as the main rainbow parade.

Overall, the European pride season is looking to be both a busy and varied celebration of gay culture.  However you decide to celebrate it over the next year, we hope you have a good one.

Where are you all heading?

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