Described last year by news organisation CNN as one of ‘the best picks around the world for celebrating Pride’, Amsterdam Gay Pride is one of those events that seems to embody the spirit and character of its iconic location.
Still the only Gay Pride parade on Earth to take place on the water, this event is, for many Amsterdammers – and increasingly for visitors in the know – the highlight of the summer’s cultural agenda in a city that knows how to party and has much to celebrate. For revellers of all stripes, the parade and the host of other Amsterdam Gay Pride events represent the perfect opportunity to explore and delight in a city that’s treasured internationally for its unique spirit of tolerance and diversity.
Amsterdam Gay Pride 2013: A Bigger Splash!
One of the very biggest public events in the Netherlands, the 18th edition of Amsterdam Gay Pride has a special significance – happening, as it does, in an auspicious landmark year for the city. 2013 is the year that the city of Amsterdam celebrates the 400th anniversary of its magnificent canal network, with a host of exhibitions and ceremonies commemorating the importance of these waterways for Amsterdam’s place in the world. Of course, Amsterdam Gay Pride culminates in the celebratory Canal Pride parade, whereby organisations and partygoers take to the stately Prinsengracht canal for one jubilant afternoon. What better way to enjoy the waters that have connected Amsterdam with the world?
This year’s theme: Reflect
The starring role of the shimmering canal network in Amsterdam’s history was the ideal starting point for this year’s Amsterdam Gay Pride theme: ‘Reflect’. Culminating in the party weekend of 2-4 August, this year’s Amsterdam Gay Pride will be bigger than ever. But the event and its significance have grown in more ways than just in terms of its scale.
Irene Hemelaar, executive director of ProGay, the association that organises Amsterdam Gay Pride, notes that ‘this year’s Amsterdam Gay Pride is something of a meditation, albeit it a jubilant one: 2013 is a big year for Amsterdam; it is the year that we celebrate 400 years of the canals that have brought the city such prosperity, and opened it up to the world as a place for people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and walks of life to come together. We will take the opportunity to look back on how far the LGBT community has come during this remarkable period. And we will shine like never before!’
A history to cherish
It goes without saying that Amsterdam has a rich gay tradition. The first gay bar opened here in 1927 (Café ‘t Mandje, still open today at Zeedijk 63) and the planet’s first gay marriages happened in Amsterdam’s City Hall in 2001. The COC Netherlands has been advocating the rights of lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals and transgenders since 1946, and is one of the few LGBT organizations that enjoys special consultative status within the United Nations.
A future to secure
Things keep moving, and welcome additions to gay life in Amsterdam include new bars, such as the lesbian-run Café Bordó in the Nieuwe Nieuwstraat. On a wider level, Dutch Minister for gender and LGBT emancipation, Jet Bussemaker, points to the Netherlands’ hosting of a major international conference on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in May: ‘The Netherlands has a progressive character, but even today, lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals and transgenders are experiencing discrimination, violence and unequal rights,’ she says. Although Bussemaker points out that ‘individuals, businesses and institutions have a responsibility to help improve the situation,’ she believes that Government also has a part to play, and is looking forward to participating in the Amsterdam Gay Pride 2013 festivities: ‘This year there will again be an official cabinet boat in the Canal Parade. It has a very special theme, but that’s all I’m allowed to say for now!’
FAST FIGURES: AMSTERDAM GAY PRIDE IN NUMBERS
350,000 visitors to the Canal Pride parade annually – 45,000 visitors during 4 days of street parties – 98 outdoor bars – 200,000 beers – 4 football pitches of dance floor – 10 outdoor stages – 3,000,000 beats – 120 different events in 9 days.
A RAINBOW OF A PROGRAMME
Amsterdam Gay Pride has much more to offer than just the Canal Pride parade:
– Street Parties
The evening of Friday 2 August is when Amsterdam’s LGBTs and friends hit the atmospheric cobbled streets for open-air celebrations and wild dancing. Choose your scene, from the hip, young vibe of the Reguliersdwarsstraat to the Dutch carnival atmosphere near the Amstel river.
– Grey Pride
A series of events, from debates to cabaret, geared towards a mature crowd. http://www.roze50plus.nl
– Drag Queen Olympics
Friday August 2: Featuring gruelling disciplines like the Handbag Toss and the High Heel Sprint, this bedazzling sporting contest on the Homomonument is something of an Amsterdam Gay Pride institution.
For full, updated event listings visit http://www.weareproud.nl