Forget Queen Lizzie’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, many a gay in the UK has been building up to this month’s World Pride celebrations in London, following a shortfall in cash however the expected proceedings were ‘adjusted’. Meaning that World Pride 2012 went ahead in central London last weekend without a number of well-known Pride mainstays e.g. big flashy corporate floats and the Soho street party.
According to Pride London, the UK is “the best country in Europe” to be gay, and I’d say even better if you’re a fan of the rain (welcome to the UK folks!). The drizzle on the day itself added to the potential disappointment, but as ever with Pride there was more than enough joy swishing around to attract thousands strong crowds of curious onlookers.
Record numbers of Pridegoers from around the world were drawn to London all the same (by the promise of proximity to each another), with revellers wholeheartedly ignoring the fact that the Soho street party had ever been called off. Some even reported Soho square and the surrounding streets being busier than ever.
But what about us Brits, where do we fantasize about taking our beau away for a romantic break, or for that boy’s or girl’s holiday with friends? In Europe, and even Tel Aviv in the middle-east, couples can take a break in easy-going gay friendly surroundings all year round. With World Pride celebrations upon us, the very real atmosphere of acceptance in the air – and those flashy pink euros to boot – the world is your oyster!
Take a look at Adam Spawton-Rice’s choices for next month’s Pride celebrations in Europe:
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Pride during: August 2-5
Amsterdam can boast a wealth of attractions for us pansies, from gay-friendly cafés and coffee shops to raunchy bars and clubs, and of course the red light district is always a curiosity. To find the gay scene head on over to Reguliersdwarsstraat, also known as the ‘golden bend’, or Amstel for a few more mainstream bars. From there take a stroll along the nearby canal, which has the fantastically relaxed and friendly atmosphere on an August summer evening.
Filled to the tipping point with museums, and with a healthy and varied scene, Amsterdam is one of the LGBT capitals of Europe, and has a Pride parade befitting it. Be sure to check out the ‘homomonument’, just around the corner from the Anne Frank Huis.
Stay in there in style: Located right in the heart of the city, the stylish Notting Hill Amsterdam hotel offers guest a boutique-y hotel experience just around the corner from the ‘golden bend’.
Pride during: August 6-12
Antwerp‘s reputation as a trashy (read: glamorous) beauty of a city applies equally to the gay scene there, and many a gay traveller has been pleasantly surprised to find its ‘cosmopolitan’ gay cafés right up next to dimly lit, arty bars and… er, fetish clubs. Well-known club The Boots is a perfect example of how wonderfully tasteless it gets in Antwerp, who doesn’t like a golden shower party? (please god no, that is a joke).
The city’s official Pride events are a hilarious must, with top DJs and all-night boat parties as well as sing along events at the Pink Friday event, Antwerp hits the right balance with the promise of some big parties for this year. Noteworthy: Mr Gay World will be making an appearance at Sunday night’s open air closing party.
Basic but sexy: Antwerp has a bit of a glut of business hotels, meaning that unless you opt for a hostel you’re not likely to find anything with much character. The solution? Go for a basic business hotel, with modern proportions like the Leonardo Hotel Antwerpen.
Prague, Czech Republic
Pride during: August 13-19
Prague‘s boho atmosphere and its growing LGBT scene has only just begun to attract gay travellers so you can count yourself among those who “were there before it got big”. Only in its infancy and already touted as the “biggest LGBT festival in central eastern Europe,” the events for Prague Pride include concerts, debates and even special exhibitions. Though the city’s historical landmarks somewhat overshadow the gay nightlife offerings, there are plenty of must-see bars and clubs.
For a novel night out be sure to check out the U Bukanýra, a cute little houseboat bar north of town, and closer to town you’ll find three floors of queer noise at the Queer Noises club night at the Chapeau Rouge. for An annual gay and lesbian film festival taking place in November also makes Prague is a hidden gem for gay holidays in Europe.
Overlooking the action: Stay in a 5-star on the cheap at the Jalta, you’re close to most of the Pride weekend events, on the Wenceslas square a fair few of the city’s sights are within walking distance.