No matter what your sexual orientation, Gay Pride is one of the most fun celebrations of the year in Amsterdam. Generally held the first weekend of August, it offers something for everyone who likes street parties, canal parades and quirky events in local clubs, bars and restaurants. The festivities celebrate what Amsterdam is known for almost as much as its renowned canals, culture and coffeeshops―acceptance for all lifestyles and tolerance for behaviors that don’t harm others. Like marrying your boyfriend. Or girlfriend.
Against this welcoming backdrop, a rainbow of activities will attract 350,000+ party-goers to Amsterdam this weekend. The festivities will begin in earnest with a street party at the Homomonument on July 31. Opened in 1987, the world’s only gay monument commemorates all who’ve been persecuted for their sexual orientation. Three large pink triangles made of granite, set in the ground to form a larger triangle, mark the spot on Westerkerk.
Thursday night, parties at such popular clubs as Prik, Dirty Dicks, Church, NYX and The Warehouse will keep the action going. From 20:30–23:30, The Normal Heart will screen at an open air cinema at Nieuwmarkt. The HBO drama tells the poignant story of the early days of the HIV-AIDS crisis in NYC in the early ’80s.
At Sugar Factory, PINKB!NK, an Amsterdam-based foundation that supports the LGBT community through charitable events, will present an art auction and party on July 31. All proceeds will fund LGBT-projects in Senegal, where homosexuality is a crime punishable by a prison sentence of up to ten years, in addition to rejection by family, friends and employers.
Street parties will continue on August 1 on Reguliersdwarsstraat and Zeedijk, while girlfriends rev it up on Paardenstraat, between Rembrandtplein and the Amstel. On the Westerkerk stage, divas from around the globe will strut their stuff in the Stiletto Sprint, Handbag Toss, Bitch Volleyball and other challenges at the 10th annual Drag Queen Olympics, open to any drag queen or king with a wig and a pair of heels. Make-up starts at 17:00; the games begin at 19:00. Beauticians will be onsite to assist with any cosmetic emergencies.
Also on Friday, HiBiHo VrijMiBo will host an afternoon cocktail party at the Amstelveld, on the route of Saturday’s Canal Parade. De Engel van Amsterdam in Zeedijk presents “Thank God It’s Friday” from 17:00–03:00. At Paradiso, the dress code is Carnivále, Burlesque and Freak Le Chique for a fusion of burlesque and modern dance at Cirque du Girlesque 2014. Manoeuver, Amsterdam’s Gay Men’s Chorus, will present a Gay Pride concert at 20:00 at Amsterdam’s Lutheran Church. Club Church will host (Z)onderbroek, a popular underwear party. Kazaky will perform at Undercurrent in Noord-Amsterdam at gay dance party Inpassion.
The highlight of Amsterdam Pride 2014 will be the annual Canal Parade, beginning at 13:30 on August 2. Rather than compete with 300,000+ spectators for a spot on the Prinsengracht, you can walk the route, from Westerdok near Central Station, along the Prinsengracht and the Amstel to Oosterdok, catching glimpses of 75+ decorated party boats carrying costumed boys and girls proudly displaying their sexual orientation. If you’re lucky, you’ll be invited to a party on one of many private boats moored on the canals.
Street parties will continue through the evening after Saturday’s parade. At Club Air on Rembrandtplein, Diva MayDay hosts Can You Feel iT?. At Westergasfabriek, an international line-up of DJs returns to Funhouse. Bears will congregate at Odean’s Bear Necessity party, while trendsetters don pink to watch the F*ng Pop Queers at Paradiso.
Sugar Factory will present Amsterdam Forever, an international collaboration of Djs, Vjs, dancers and drag queens, originally from Tel Aviv. For the LGBT crowd, the Gay Pub Crawl will launch at 20:00 from Taboo on Reguliersdwarsstraat. At 21:00, bring your skates for the first Roller Disco at North Paradiso in Amsterdam-Noord.
After Saturday night hangovers subside, the fun will kick up for Sunday closing festivities on Rembrandtplein. Amsterdam’s Pride Closing Party will feature Dutch artists and DJs performing on an outdoor stage from late afternoon through early evening. In the Eden of Amsterdam, the North Paradiso garden in Amsterdam-Noord will host a Desperate House Wives High Tea featuring DJ Duo Grumpy Old Men. Sunday parties include Paradiso’s Rapido, the most popular gay circuit party in Amsterdam, where gays from all over Europe show up to see and be seen. Later in the evening, Hotel Arena presents Rapido After, with more boys, buns and beats, to conclude the week of festivities.
For more information about Amsterdam Gay Pride, check out Amsterdam Gay Pride 2014. See you there?