More than any other city in the world, Amsterdam not only appears to tolerate gay and lesbian culture it actively seems to celebrate it. Truly this is a city upon which the mantle of gay mecca can sit comfortably!
Like most of Europe’s other major urban centers, the city holds a Gay Pride event. But few can hold a candle to the pomp and show of Amsterdam’s (held from August 3-7).
The centerpiece of the event is the ‘canal parade’, which roars along the Prinzengracht in a frenzy of costumes and color. Every March, Amsterdam also hosts its Fetish Fantasy Weekend, whilst Amsterdam’s Leather Pride takes place in October.
The city’s gay action is broken down into a few distinct areas. To the north of the old town, tucked neatly in between Dam Square and Central Station, and in the heart of the red-light district, the Warmoesstraat is where you’ll find the majority of the city’s leather-bars and rainbow-flagged saunas.
Further south, the city’s Museumquarter is home to many of Amsterdam’s smartest shopping streets, the most exclusive of all being the P.C. Hooftstraat which positively drips with classy boutiques. It also contains the Reguliersdwarsstraat area, which, along with the Amstel and Kerkstraat districts (one of the city’s longest-standing gay areas) is the focal point of the gay and lesbian scene in Amsterdam.
On long summer evenings, drinkers spill out onto the streets from the area’s many heaving gay and lesbian bars, while its clubs are crammed with partiers until well into the morning.
The Amstel area neighbors the Rembrandtplein, another of Amsterdam’s elegant squares named after the late Dutch master Rembrandt, and now a neighborhood of typical Dutch pubs playing authentic Dutch music. Whilst not perhaps as exclusively gay as it once was, it’s nevertheless a thriving hub of trendy gay bars and clubs.
For friendly assistance and insider tips on gay Amsterdam head for the ‘Pink Point’, (to be found at the Westermarkt, on the Keizersgracht) a gay and lesbian information kiosk, that also sells souvenirs.
Next to this is the ‘Homomonument’, a gay monument made of three large pink granite triangles. It stands, near the Anne Frank house, as a symbol of Holland’s continuing commitment to tolerance and inclusiveness for all.
Some General Travel Advice for Gays and Lesbians
Whether or not it’s ok to be gay abroad varies wherever you are in the world. In some countries it’s so acceptable there’s barely a need for a scene, whereas in others you can still be stoned to death for what’s perceived as a heinous crime against God (or whichever version of God is applicable). Even in countries like the USA, it can vary between state, you wouldn’t want to get caught with your pants down in Texas, for instance.
It obviously therefore pays to do a little research before you go, so here is a selection of city guides from across the globe which will help you on your way.
Also everyone should read travel insurance reviews if you are visiting any foreign country and don’t have worldwide private health insurance. So make sure you have some!
Events this year in Amsterdam
The highlight of the Amsterdam Gay Pride is the Canal Parade. Please note that since 2017 the route is reversed from previous years, now going from Amstel towards Prinsengracht. See here a map of the route and other information. The parade will start around 12:30 (one hour earlier)
Things are in 2017 a little different from other years:
The main stage is at Dam square, with DJ’s and performers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.
There is no street party on Amstel in front of bar Amstel Fifty Four (because of new traffic routes). Also the Rembrandtplein party (including Sunday closing party) has moved to Dam square.
Bar Prik at Spuistraat will have street parties for it’s second year including a stage. Reguliersdwarsstraat will have an “intimate party” without a stage or outside bars.