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photo: Mariska-van-der-Meulen.

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.

Amsterdam Gay Pride 2013: A Bigger Splash!
© MarjoleinvanVeen-Bote nParade

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?

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.

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.


Amsterdam is the perfect place for a gay-flavoured long or short break, with a host of friendly and characterful gay neighbourhoods to explore…

Gaybourhood #1: Homomonument
Karin Daan’s three-sectioned pink triangle – symbolising past, present and future – was a world first. It’s also a place to celebrate and be proud: for Amsterdam Gay Pride, it gets annexed as an open-air disco, and the site of the world-famous Drag Queen Olympics. The Pink Point hut offers year-round information and souvenirs, and the nearby Anne Frank House offers another opportunity to reflect on the meaning of freedom.

Gaybourhood #2: Warmoesstraat/Zeedijk
The long and narrow Warmoesstraat is the oldest street in town, and it’s home to leather bars, sex shops and Getto, a friendly café where the burgers are named after drag queens. Among the Asian eateries of nearby Zeedijk, you’ll find Café ’t Mandje, Amsterdam’s – perhaps the world’s – oldest gay and lesbian bar. Nearby, The Queen’s Head pub is known for its colourful and cosy bingo nights.

Gaybourhood #3: Reguliersdwarsstraat
Practically every bar and shop on the strip between the Koningsplein and the Vijzelstraat is broadly painted with the pink brush, including awesome new Club NYX. Named after the Greek goddess of the night, this cool kids’ mecca makes liberal use of graffiti, glitter and concrete. Just down the road, spacious bar Dvars is a grown-up drinking den for Amsterdam’s new army of cocktail-loving sophisticates.

Gaybourhood #4: Kerkstraat
Home to gay hotels such as the ever-popular ‘Hotel Amistad’, and the outrageous Club Church, where local drag legend Jennifer Hopelezz holds court with her merry band of ne’er-do-wells.

Gaybourhood #5: Amstel
The scene neighbouring the Amstel river to the east of the centre is light-hearted, friendly and camp, with tiny brown cafes in the traditional Amsterdam mould, but there’s the odd slick newcomer, like Club AIR. In business for over 30 years, Vive la Vie on the Amstelstraat is one of the city’s most vibrant lesbian venues.