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For all the dark corners that remain in the world for LGBTQI travellers, virtually every continent boasts a heaving calendar of events celebrating queer pride. From epic parties to boutique adventures, from South America to Southeast Asia, we’ve picked a few of our favourites happenings to inspire your next holiday.
São Paulo Pride Parade
Pride marches as are always a party – how better to celebrate freedom and love? – but São Paulo is the mothership, the biggest party of them all. Five million lined São Paulo’s Avenida Paulista for the event last year, filling the street with rainbow flags and carnival spirit, and this year looks to be even bigger. São Paulo Pride Parade will celebrate its 20th anniversary in May and the city promises a very wild ride, Brazilian-style.
NYC Pride Week
Rivalling São Paulo is scale, NYC Pride Week is a constellation of events that takes over Manhattan in June. For party hounds, the legendary Dance on the Pier is a beat feast concluding in a massive fireworks display, while women get two exclusive party events in Tease and Femme Fatales. Kids can join their parents for the NYC Pride’s annual Family Movie Night, while adults carry on in wild ways at the Pride’s various rooftops parties. The centrepiece of NYC Pride Week is a mammoth parade, with more than 350 groups and 80 floats travelling down Fifth Avenue, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the birth of the gay rights movement.
European Snow Pride, France
For a pride parade with a difference, you’ll have to strap on a pair of skis. There are a surprising number of queer events that take place in the snow but the largest is European Snow Pride, held each year in Tignes, France. Buff men flock to the French Alps in March for a week of snow sports, hot spas and parties – the ultimate mixer for body beautiful queers with a penchant for the outdoor life. The entertainment schedule is always jammed packed and world-class, with Boney M making a headline appearance in 2017.
Pink Week, Slovenia
After something a little more refined and off the beaten path? Just a few years old, Slovenia’s Pink Week has already earned rave reviews in queer media as the little LGBTQI event that could – part queer pride, part tourism, part culinary delight. Guests are treated to a specially curated program of sight-seeing and parties in and around the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, taking in Otocec Castle, Land of Hayracks, Lake Bled and Ljubljanica River. Wine tasting, spa treatments and boating on Ljubljana’s picturesque canals are all part of the event, with a special Dragon Ball in Ljubljana Castle to finish out the week.
Taungbyone Nat Pwe, Myanmar
Myanmar’s answer to LGBTQI pride is a wild spirit festival held in August in the village of Taungbyone, roughly 20 kilometres north of Mandalay. The Taungbyone Nat Pwe festival brings Myanmar’s large transvestite community together for a bone-shaking dance-off, led by a couple of spectacular drag queens who are said to be spirit wives to an immortal ghost of Burmese folklore. Loud, colourful, mangy and manic, Taungbyone Nat Pwe has a carnival atmosphere and plenty of traditional music, with crowds of many tens of thousands descending to join in the spectacle. As queer destination travel goes, this one is truly unique.
Frameline Film Festival, San Francisco
Frameline was founded in 1977 in The Castro, the heart of San Francisco’s LGBT scene and ground zero for the West Coast queer rights movement. It is the oldest and the biggest queer film event in the world, welcoming, 60,000-80,000 audience members and special guests, both local and international, for a week of screenings and social events that finishes with the San Francisco Pride Parade. Book a flight to San Francisco in June to see the best new LGBTQI dramas, comedies, short films and documentaries, many of which choose Frameline Film Festival for their world premiere.
WomanFest is a long-standing event in the Florida Keys that is exclusively for lesbian women and their friends. Thousands descend on Florida for this September hoe-down in the sun, with events including boat parties, pool parties, beach parties, drag shows and roller derby (of course). In recent years a new social event has been added to the bill: the Annual Southernmost Tattoo Mustache Bike Ride, for ladies who like to ride butch!
Alternative Miss London, The Way Out Club
From the folks who bring us the annual Drag Olympics, beloved London drag den The Way Out Club, the Alternative Miss London pageant is long-running celebration of hot trans women. A small event on the LGBTQI scene, but one with a very big heart, Alternative Miss London is hosted by The Way Out Club’s Miss Vicky Lee, a high profile trans author, activist, academic and entertainer, and a stalwart of the London queer scene. By all accounts, she knows how to throw a party.
Celebrating participation, inclusion and personal best, the Gay Games is a truly international event, happening once every four years in a different location across the globe. The Games is a very big deal for LGBTQI pride, welcoming any athlete who chooses to participate, including athletes representing countries where homosexuality is illegal. The roster of sports prowess on display includes many of the classics, but don’t be surprised to find wheelchair rugby or roller derby on the bill. It takes a bit of planning to attend the event, so this is your heads up – the next Gay Games is scheduled to happen in France, in 2018.
Explore the LGBTIQ+ cultures of the world with Ellen Page and her best friend, Ian Daniel, on Gaycation. Watch the first two seasons now on SBS On Demand.
(Lead image: Tony Webster/Wikimedia)
Simone Ubaldi is a ghostwriter, music journalist, film critic and frequent flyer. She has written for The Age, The Monthly, triple j Mag, Paper Sea, Faster Louder and various other publications, and appeared on ABC Radio National, triple j and Melbourne's 3RRR FM. She has co-authored four books, including memoirs of Bon Scott and Mark 'Chopper' Read, and she stashes a lot of her writing here.