Many of the biggest pride parades in the world started small. From just a few hundred participants in the olden days, today’s pride marches draw hundreds of thousands to millions of people. The festivities are usually held in June, which is LGBT Pride Month. Many major cities all over the planet hold their own pride festivals to advocate for LGBTQ rights. In addition, live entertainment, street parties, and parades take place to celebrate the LGBTQ community’s achievements. Here, we check out some of the largest gay pride parades in the world. Also, take a look at excellent gay-friendly hotels that you can use as a base to celebrate Gay Pride in comfort.
Amsterdam Gay Pride Canal Parade
Unlike many other pride events, Amsterdam Pride didn’t start out as a call for equal rights for LGBT people. This is probably because the Netherlands is one of the most LGBT-friendly countries on the planet. In fact, it was the first to legalize same-sex marriage, which took place between two men in Amsterdam. The city’s gay pride festival usually happens on the first weekend of August, with cultural and sports events as well as street parties. Amsterdam Pride’s highlight is the much-celebrated Canal Parade. Revelers gather in the city’s streets to cheer as decorated boats glide through canals and the Amstel River.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Quentin Amsterdam Hotel – The stylish suites in this 3-star hotel have private bathrooms and flat-screen TVs, and some have views of the canals. It’s budget-friendly and close to some of Amsterdam’s most fun gay hangouts.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Centre – Modern and warmly decorated rooms with free Wi-Fi and satellite TV, as well as delightful private bathrooms, are what you’ll find in this gay-friendly 4-star hotel. Museums, shopping streets, and historic attractions are a short walk away.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Sofitel Legend the Grand Amsterdam – Feel pampered with butler service, an indoor swimming pool, and an elegant Michelin-star restaurant. This 5-star hotel is in historic canal-side buildings and also offers a luxurious spa as well as tours on private boats and horse-drawn carriages.
Rio de Janeiro Gay Pride Parade
Sometimes held in September, sometimes in October, the Rio de Janeiro Gay Pride Parade is always a cheerful affair. The first parade took place in 1995, and every year there are different themes. For instance, in 2019 the theme revolved around the topics of democracy, freedom, and rights. The parade traditionally starts on Copacabana Beach and passes through Avenida Atlantica. Some neighborhoods stage their own mini-parades along with the main one. Festivities last well into the night, and it isn’t unusual to dance in the streets until dawn breaks.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐Atlantis Copacabana Hotel – Luxury amenities such as a sauna and a rooftop pool are some of this 3-star hotel’s top draws. It’s close to both Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and gets rave reviews for its outstanding breakfast.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Sol Ipanema Hotel – Right in front of Ipanema Beach and with gay bars and clubs within easy reach, this 4-star hotel is a popular home away from home for visitors to Rio. Stay in a room where you can relax on the terrace and enjoy the coastal views, or go for a workout in the hotel’s state-of-the-art gym.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro – A rooftop terrace, a sophisticated spa, and elegant rooms with mini-bars and satellite TV are just some of this 5-star hotel’s major attractions. Add its beachfront location and proximity to the Rua Farme de Amoedo gay district, and you’re all set for a memorable holiday.
Pride Toronto Parade
Pride Toronto boasts one of the largest gay pride parades in the world. Every year, great crowds fill the streets to celebrate the diversity of the Greater Toronto area’s LGBTQ community. Festivities abound, including concerts, dance parties, and entertaining shows by drag queens and kings. The main events are the Trans Pride celebrations, the Dyke March, and of course, the magnificent Pride Parade. Toronto closes almost 2 dozen city blocks to vehicular traffic to accommodate the parades and marches.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ The Drake Hotel – Located in a lively district called the Queer West Village or the Art District, this 3-star hotel is close to tasty cuisine, great shopping, and vibrant nightlife. The rooms are well-appointed, and guests can relax on the rooftop patio or in the serene lounge.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre – This world-renowned hotel lives up to its reputation for comfort with well-appointed rooms, an indoor pool, and a full-service spa. It’s also just a hop, skip, and jump to the gay bars and restaurants of the Gay Village..
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Windsor Arms Hotel – Romance meets sophistication at this iconic 5-star hotel in the heart of Toronto. The suites have limestone bathrooms and spa baths, cable TV, and minibars. Luxuriate in the indoor saltwater pool and feel rejuvenated after a massage and body treatment.
Paris Pride Parade
Also called the Marche des Fiertés LGBT, Paris Pride occurs in late June. It’s one of the biggest pride parades in the world, with 800,000 participants in 2010 alone. Every year, hundreds of volunteers come together to organize this popular event in the capital of France. Around 50 festive floats traverse the streets of Paris, starting from Montparnasse up to the Place de la République. After the parade, the party continues in Le Marais, the city’s vibrant gay district.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Hôtel Du Vieux Saule – Set in the heart of the Le Marais gay scene, this budget hotel features modern rooms with safes, minibars, and flat-screen TVs. The building, which dates back to the 16th century, is just a 10-minute walk from flamboyant gay bars.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel – The ultra-modern guest rooms in this 4-star hotel are soundproof and feature free satellite TV and private bathrooms. The gym offers scenic views of the Eiffel Tower, and gay saunas are a short ride away via the nearby metro.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Le Pavillon de la Reine & Spa – A 5-star hotel that exudes old-world elegance, the rooms nevertheless offer the most modern amenities for a comfortable stay. Feel like royalty with amenities such as the Turkish bath, couples massage, and an attentive concierge service.
Berlin Pride Parade
This event-filled celebration takes place every year in the second half of July to fete members of the LGBTQ community and their allies. Also called CSD Berlin (Christopher Street Day), it’s organized by the Berlin LGBT Pride Association. The first CSD Berlin happened in June 1979, and attendance has been spiking steadily since then. The parade begins at the corner of Kurfürstendamm and Joachimsthaler Strasse and finishes at the Brandenburg Gate. Before and after the parade, revelers will have no shortage of parties celebrating LGBTQ culture to go to.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ ArtHotel Connection – Within easy reach of Nollendorfplatz Square’s gay hotspots, this 3-star hotel is a popular choice for budget-conscious LGBTQ travelers. It’s an adults-only establishment, where rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV and iPod docking station. The generous breakfast buffet lasts until noon, so don’t worry about getting something to eat after partying the night away.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Axel Hotel Berlin – Centrally placed in Schöneberg, Berlin’s main gay village, this stylish 4-star hotel offers air-conditioned rooms with an LCD TV, free Wi-Fi, and iPod connectable speakers. The wellness center includes a sauna and a jacuzzi, and there’s an open-air bar where you can cap off the evening with a drink or two.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hotel Palace Berlin – Fine dining, a beautiful indoor pool, soundproofed rooms in chic decor, and an award-winning gourmet restaurant are just some of the things you can experience in this privately-owned 5-star hotel. It’s a quiet place to stay despite its central location that’s within easy reach of Schöneberg’s gay clubs and bars.
Taiwan Pride Parade
From 20,000 participants in 2003 to 200,000 in 2019, the Taiwan Pride Parade is the largest of its kind in Asia. The 2019 parade was particularly joyful since same-sex marriage was only legalized in Taiwan earlier that year in May. Taiwan Pride celebrations take usually take place on the last Saturday in October in the capital city of Taipei. Famous celebrities in Taiwan put on shows to show their support to the LGBTQ community. Plus, there’s no shortage of parties over the pride weekend.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Yesinn Taipei – Brightly colored rooms with air conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and mini-fridges are what you’ll find in this hospitable 3-star hostel. Plus, it’s just a short walk from the Red House, a district known as the Gay Village in Taipei.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ inhouse Hotel – Peaceful sleep is practically guaranteed at this gay-friendly 4-star hotel because of the blackout curtains in the rooms. Other room amenities include mini-bars, cable TV, and iPhone/iPod docks. Also, breakfast is free for guests.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel – Smack dab in the heart of Taipei, this 5-star luxury hotel sits close to public transportation and landmarks such as the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. The rooms are spacious and attractively designed with traditional Chinese and modern elements. A day spa, fitness facilities, concierge services, and a choice of 9 dining options make for an extravagant stay.
Pride in London Parade
Summertime in the English capital becomes extra festive with the Pride in London Parade. Thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers, it’s the biggest pride event in the United Kingdom. The annual parade takes place along the West End; the city closes the world-famous shopping haven Oxford Street to traffic for it. In Trafalgar Square, hundreds of performers treat Pride in London attendees to free performances. There are also plenty of food and drink vendors, exhibitions, and community stalls.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Amsterdam Hotel – A cozy and discreet B&B in a quiet section of the Earl’s Court district, this 3-star boutique-style establishment features en suite rooms, serviced apartments, and a garden where you can relax. It’s close to a tube station, so London’s hottest gay hotspots are just a short ride away.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hazlitt’s – This historic 4-star hotel combines the old and the new, from carved wooden beds and Victorian baths to flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Located just off Soho Square, its surrounded by a wide variety of gay restaurants and bars.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Piccadilly London West End – Discovering the city’s gay scene is a breeze at this 5-star hotel. The rooms with mood lighting and luxury bathrooms, elegant spa facilities, and the super-friendly staff make it the perfect spot for a great gaycation.
Cologne Pride Parade
The largest LGBTQ event in Germany, this parade takes place during the Cologne Pride celebration in June–July every year. It starts at noon on Deutzer Brücke and ends at Marzellenstrasse in the heart of the city. Cologne takes on a carnival-like atmosphere during the parade, with marchers in colorful and elaborate costumes. Just as popular is the Christopher Street Day (CSD) festival, which showcases glamorous performances and inspiring talks.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Novum Hotel Leonet Köln Altstadt – This gem of a 3-star hotel sits close to the Rudolfplatz, the city’s so-called Gay Bermuda Triangle. The large rooms are soundproofed and have their own private bathroom. Start the day with a full breakfast buffet and spend the day in retail therapy at the nearby Schildergasse shopping street.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Maritim Hotel Köln – Located in Hemarkt or the Old Town, this 4-star hotel is within easy reach of one of Cologne’s biggest gay nightlife areas. In addition to tastefully-appointed rooms and suites, the hotel also offers a gym, an indoor pool, and a wonderful roof garden restaurant.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom – This family-run 5-star hotel has been in operation since 1863 and is one of Cologne’s best gay-friendly luxury hotels. All the rooms and suites are air-conditioned and feature marble-style bathrooms and international satellite TV. Award-winning restaurants serve international cuisine, and there are saunas and a gym that guests can use for free.
Tel Aviv Pride Parade
Hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ community members and their allies take part in Tel Aviv‘s Pride Parade each June. This bustling city in Israel ranks among the top gay-friendly cities on the planet. So it’s no surprise that it’s also home to one of the largest pride parades in the world. The march starts at Meir Park and ends in Charles Clore Park. To celebrate the end of the parade, a festive party takes place in the park, featuring some of the best DJs around.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Port Hotel Tel Aviv – Value for money is the name of the game at this 3-star hotel, where breakfast, Wi-Fi, and bicycle rentals are all free for guests. The rooms are comfy with air conditioning, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, and mini-fridge. It’s also just a short walk from Hilton Beach, the unofficial gay beach of Israel.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Cinema Hotel – Paying homage to its former function as the Ester Cinema, this 4-star hotel features film-related accouterments such as movie posters, theater chairs, and movie projectors. Each room comes with a private bathroom and tea/coffee facilities, and there’s a business lounge where free appetizers and drinks are served. The hotel is close to the iconic Dizengoff Square and gay nightlife venues.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Carlton Tel Aviv Hotel – Fancy some champagne for breakfast? That’s one of the things you can get at this award-winning, gay-friendly, 5-star hotel. Those who value privacy will appreciate the private check-in service, while those expecting luxury amenities won’t be disappointed with the rooms (private balcony overlooking the city or the sea), the elegant restaurants, and the exclusive wine bar.
San Francisco Pride Parade
More than a million people gather in San Francisco during the last full weekend of June every year to celebrate LGBTQ rights. This world-renowned parade takes place on Sunday morning and lasts until around 4:00 PM. Various groups including Dykes on Bikes and PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) are prominent in the parade. Dance stages, booths, and vendors are also part and parcel of the festival.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Hampton Inn San Francisco Downtown – Modern en suite guestrooms, a rooftop terrace, and free breakfast make this 3-star hotel excellent value for money. The fact that it’s in the Castro District, the core of the city’s gay community, doesn’t hurt either. Close by are the Rainbow Honor Walk of Fame and the GLBT History Museum.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hotel Zelos San Francisco – Sleek rooms adorned with modern artwork, 24-hour concierge service, and a resto-bar with an outdoor heated patio make this 4-star hotel popular with travelers of all stripes. It’s also within easy reach of the SoMa district’s gay clubs such as iconic The Stud, which has been in operation since 1966.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ St. Regis San Francisco – Its central location in SoMa means that this 5-star hotel is just a stone’s throw from some of the city’s go-to gay bars, clubs, and saunas. Feel like a king or a queen in a room with a soaking tub and enjoy amenities such as an indoor infinity pool and a multi-level spa.
EuroPride Parade in Madrid
Inaugurated in 1992, EuroPride takes place in a different city in Europe each time. Celebrations can last up to a month and the event winds up with a parade. Madrid hosted the biggest Europride event in 2007, with over 2 million participants.
Madrid also has its own homegrown annual gay parade, the immensely successful Orgullo Gay de Madrid (MADO). From its modest beginnings in 1978, MADO today is one of the biggest pride parades in the world. It’s held every year on the weekend right after the International Day of LGBT Pride. More than a million people throng the streets of Spain’s capital to take part in the festivities.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Hostal Pizarro – This 3-star hotel has clean and comfortable rooms with flat-screen TVs and mini-fridges. It’s in an attractive modernist building in the Chueca district (Madrid’s LGBT neighborhood). Staff members are multilingual and will gladly assist guests to find things to see and do in the city.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Axel Hotel Madrid – Also located near Chueca, this 4-star hotel is an adults-only facility boasting stylish rooms, a state-of-the-art gym, and a rooftop sky bar. The customer service is top-notch, and there are a sun deck and a garden where you can socialize with other guests.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Westin Palace Hotel – Set in the Art Triangle in the heart of Madrid, this 5-star hotel promises every luxury including award-winning beds and baths, antique furniture, and a decadent spa. The Westin Palace supports the LGBT community with its hosting of gay events and LGBT-focused public relations blitzes.
São Paulo Gay Pride Parade
Aside from one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is also the home of the São Paulo Gay Pride Parade. This extravagant spectacle set a Guinness World Record in 2006, with 2.5 million participants. Since then, attendance has never failed gone below 3 million. The parade route stretches over 4 km along the Avenida Paulista, starting at the Museum of Art of São Paulo and ending at Praça Roosevelt. Complementing the parade are live music, ostentatious floats, and raucous parties in LGBTQ clubs.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ 155 Hotel – A budget-friendly 3-star establishment offering rooms equipped with air-conditioning, mini-bar, and cable TV. Breakfast is complimentary. It’s centrally located in the Consolação neighborhood; the LGBT-friendly Frei Caneca shopping mall and the gay nightlife of Augusta Street are close by.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Blue Tree Premium Paulista – Stay at this Japanese-style 4-star hotel and take advantage of amenities such as a swimming pool, gym, and 24-hour room service. It’s within walking distance of the gay bars and clubs of the Frei Caneca district and close to Avenida Paulista’s colorful Sunday market.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hotel Unique – Designed by acclaimed architect Ruy Otake, this stunning boat-shaped hotel is certainly an eye-catcher. Luxuriate in rooms equipped with plush beds, jacuzzi tubs, and separate showers. This 5-star hotel is in the upscale Jardins neighborhood, not far from Frei Caneca’s gay hotspots.
WorldPride Parade in NYC
World Pride maintains its position as the biggest pride parade in the world. Established in 2000, the event takes place in different cities every year. In 2019, New York City broke records when it hosted the World Pride Parade. This was also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the spark that lit the flame of the gay rights movement. A staggering 5 million people attended this edition of the World Pride Parade, and among the activities during the event were concerts, film screenings, and street fairs.
The Big Apple also hosts the annual NYC Pride March, which is always a huge success. Members of the LGBTQ community and their allies march through Lower Manhattan, cheered on by spectators. NYC Pride March ranks as North America‘s largest pride parade, with 2 million or so participants each year.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Hotel Edison – Budget-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean cheap-looking. Established in 1930, this 3-star hotel features Art Deco-influences in the lobby and facade. Choose from Classic and Signature suites and rooms, and enjoy amenities such as the 24-hour fitness center and concierge service. Located in buzzing Times Square, it’s near some of Midtown Manhattan’s best gay bars.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Washington Square Hotel – Situated in the heart of Greenwich Village, this landmark 4-star hotel is close to Stonewall Inn—a vital element of the LGBTQ civil rights movement. Original deco architecture and unique artwork make this hotel a visual feast. Amenities such as an on-site gym, a spa, and nicely equipped rooms attract LGBTQ visitors from near and far.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ NoMo SoHo – This wonderfully whimsical 5-star hotel in trendy SoHo was inspired by the 1940s French film La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast). The large guest rooms feel even bigger with their floor-to-ceiling windows. They also feature down bedding and marble bathrooms to reinforce that sensation of luxury. Close by are the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and the Gay Activist Alliance Firehouse.
Just So You Know…
- The 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day (CSLD) March in NYC inspired similar initiatives across the U.S. and the world.
- Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag that first flew at the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978.
- Each color on the original flag represents a different ideal. Hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art and magic, indigo for harmony and serenity, and violet for spirit.
- The Center for Culture and Leisure, established in 1946, is the oldest LGBTQ organization in the world that’s still in operation.
- LGBTQ culture uses many symbols aside from the rainbow flag. These include the lower-case Greek letter lambda, unicorns, and freedom rings.
- Many celebrities have participated or performed in pride parades. Some examples are actor Ian McKellen, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, stage actor/singer Billy Porter, and singer/songwriter Lady Gaga.