Most major and even minor cities have pride festivals, but Amsterdam definitely has one of the best and most fun! This year, the Gay Pride will be held between 26th July and 3rd of August Here’s a run-down of what’s in store
Always a bit of a surprise, Amsterdam’s Gay Pride isn’t all about dancing and drinking. Several of the art galleries and museums in the city this year will be holding special exhibitions with a gay and lesbian theme. Events high on my must-visit list are ‘Dans Le Milieu‘, an exhibition at Melkweg Gallery where photographer Ernst Coppejans shows the forbidden life of the Dakar (Senegal) gay scene, ‘Boi, Song of a Wanderer‘, an exhibition and film at Foam about Anne Marie Borsboo, a lady who has been documenting her transformation from man to woman through self portraits and film, ‘Gender Freezone‘, a photographic exhibition at the Manor Hotel from Petra van Velzen who believes that gender is not set (i.e. male or female) but a continuum with many variations, and ‘Grand Ladies D’Amsterdam‘, a unique exhibition showcasing ceramic sculptures commissioned especially for the Amsterdam Gay Pride by artist Leon Strous at Galerie Strous. Top of my list is ‘Homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom‘, a fantastic tour held at the Artis exploring homosexual behaviour in over 1500 species.
But there’s so much more to see – check out the full agenda here: http://www.amsterdamgaypride.org/events#date-filter:path=default|category-filter:path=.arts_culture
Another surprising aspect of Amsterdam’s Gay Pride is how involved it is in sporting events. The ones I’ll be attending are Saareins Women’s Football League, which will be Held at Westerpark on the 27th of July, where I can watch a whole football tournament in one day, and then visit Cafe Saarein and witness the awards ceremony and after party! There’s also the Amsterdam Gay Pride Squash Tournament. Bearing in mind I haven’t played squash since I was in school, I’m likely to be very bad! However, on 1st August at the Frans Otten Stadium, for 65 euros I can play a few matches, and then look forward to a barbecue on the roof of the stadium.
There are more sporting events for you to attend – check them out here: http://www.amsterdamgaypride.org/events#date-filter:path=default|category-filter:path=.sports
Gays & Gadgets
A venue that I’ll be visiting a number of times over the Pride festival is Gays & Gadgets. On the 31st of July, they are holding a ‘High Tea’ event where they will serve the ultimate sweet snacks and tea. On 1st August they will hold an event I’m hoping one of my gay friends will take me to; ‘Gay for a day’. Basically, take along a straight friend and ‘gay them up’ with a whole host of accessories provided by Gays & Gadget’s; I have a feeling most of the photographs of me will end up on Facebook! And then there’s ‘It’s Gay Price Party Time – The 100 Hottest Gay Hits’, where you can snack and drink for free whilst listening to the best gay tracks ever. Adress: Spuistraat 44
OK, so you’ve visited some exhibitions and sport events, but let’s face it, Pride wouldn’t be Pride without the legendary parades and street parties. Starting on the last weekend of the festival (1-3 August), you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to having a good time. On the Friday (1st August), choose between street parties being held at Reguliersdwarsstraat for the trendy crowd, Amstel for a more populist crowd, and central Rembrandtplein and Paardenstraat which are more geared towards women. Make sure you visit Westermarkt for the ridiculously funny Drag Queen Olympics, And then spend the rest of the night clubbing in one of the many great clubs – my best friend recommends Club Church and (Z)onderbroek for ‘the hottest men’!
Don’t drink too much on Friday night though because you need to be feeling well for the Saturday Canal Parade. Most Prides around the world use trucks, but Amsterdam makes great use of it’s waterways and has boats instead! There will be over 70 boats this year, including a Moroccan, Jewish and American boat. Watch with over 300,000 spectators from 2-6 pm as they sail through the Prinsengracht and Amstel river. Later on in the evening, it’s the biggest clubbing night of the Pride festival. If you want to be part of the largest crowd, head to the Funhouse at the Westergasfabriek, boasting an international line up of DJ’s. Another popular haunt is F*ng Pop Queers, held at Paradiso and geared towards the trendy crowd.
If you’re body has not given up on you by Sunday, head to the traditional Pride Closing Party. Held on the Rembrandtplein stage, it will start late in the afternoon and is the perfect place to find fellow festival victims trying to get over a hangover and refusing to spend the last day of this festival in bed. If you’ve ever experienced Amsterdam Gay Pride you’ll agree with me; you will need a few days off work to get over it. But the pain is worth it!