Gay Pride Amsterdam - The Biggest Gay Party in Europe

Amsterdam has had a long history of gay pride, with Bet van Beeren, the legendary Queen of the Zeedijk, opening a gay and lesbian bar in the city as far back as 1927. The official history of Gay Pride Amsterdam as we know it, however, only began in 1996 with the first Pride celebrations and parade.

Since then, the first weekend of August has always been Gay Pride weekend in Amsterdam. The official celebrations last from Friday to Sunday, but the days on either side see a marked increase in tourists, both gay and straight, flocking to the city for the legendary party that is Gay Pride Amsterdam.

amsterdam gay pride

When and Where to Go

The celebrations officially kick off on Friday night, giving everyone time to arrive in the city and find their accommodations and friends. Friday night is a night of street parties, and specific streets of Amsterdam are thronged with revellers. The young and trendy click flock to Reguliersdwarsstraat behind the Bloemenmarkt, while the Westermarkt and Paardenstraat hold the women's parties; Amstel and Thorbeckeplein host parties dominated by the Dutch and Amstelveld is a good place to check out for all the straight visitors to the celebrations.

The main celebration day of Gay Pride Amsterdam is, obviously enough, the Saturday. On Saturday the Canal Parade takes place in the afternoon, where visitors line the canals to catch a glimpse of the pageantry and glamour that makes the parade so famous. The clubs of Amsterdam are hopping on Saturday night, with Club Odeon at Singel 460 and the ever popular Melkweg being the places to be.

Sunday is a day for winding things down and the closing party is held in the late afternoon. The traditional venue for the closing party is the Stopera music theatre at Amstel 1018, and Sunday of the Pride celebrations sees it packed with a varied gay crowd made up of the last survivors of the weekend and those having one last blow out before heading back home.

gay pride amsterdam

What to See

Gay Pride Amsterdam's most famous feature, the Canal Parade, begins at 2pm on the Saturday of the celebrations. Starting at the Weterdok harbour on Prinsengracht, the parade passes the length of the canal before taking a left on to the Amstel river towards the Muziektheater before finally turning right towards the Oosterdok.

Normally lasting until 6pm, the parade is a huge draw and is watched by an estimated 500,000 spectators each year. The parade itself is a cavalcade of decorated boats, each more fabulous than the last, packed with dancers, party goers and celebrities. Loud music follows each boat and the part atmosphere is contagious.

There are a total of 75 boats in the parade each year, and those who wish to take part can subscribe at the official website of Gay Pride Amsterdam, Entry fees apply and certain other requirements must be met as detailed on the site.

Another activity that no visit to Amsterdam's Pride celebrations would be complete without is a visit to the Homomonument. This tribute to all of the homosexual victims of oppression stands as a reminder to all members of the gay community to stand up and be proud of who they are. It can be found beside the Anne Frank House and the Pink Point gay information centre at Westermarkt.

Where to Stay

As most of the big parties take place in the city centre, to get the most out of Gay Pride Amsterdam, it's best to find accommodation somewhere close. Amsterdam has no shortage of hotels and some of the city's best gay hotels can be found close to the action.

The Golden Bear was the first gay hotel in Amsterdam and can be found at Kerkstraat 37, close to most of the big Pride parties. Very close by at Kerkstraat 42 is the Hotel Amistad, which boasts itself as being 'the place to stay' for Amsterdam's gay visitors.

For those into the leather scene, the Black Tulip leather and art hotel is at Geldersekade 16, just across from Centraal Station and close to the famous Warmoestraat.

The Quentin Hotel at Leidsekade 89 is not exclusively gay, but is very popular with the gay crowd. Its location and charm make it a great choice for those wishing to be near the parties but with a relatively quiet haven to retreat to when needed.

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