Amsterdam Gay Pride, image: Tineke van der Pouw Kraan
Amsterdam Gay Pride is a huge celebration of devotion towards equality for the gay, lesbian and transgender communities, held from Saturday, 27 July to Sunday, 4 August 2013.
Amsterdam Pride 2013
Amsterdam's famous liberal-mindedness over the years has encouraged a welcoming and safe environment for gays, lesbians and transgenders to both visit and live in.
Amsterdam's gay rights history, from early-day tolerance to modern Mayoral celebrants has meant Amsterdam has always been at the world forefront in striving for equality for the gay community.
We are proud
As a result Amsterdam Gay Pride remains one of the best celebrations of its kind around the globe. It traditionally takes place over the first weekend of August every year, drawing more than 350,000 gay and straight participants and visitors to stay and play in Amsterdam.
The city is a rainbow of events in gay and straight venues alike, from dance parties to film festivals, sporting events, culture and more. The 2013 theme is 'Reflect', encouraging reflection on the beginnings of the LGBT movement and the continued importance of diversity. For more information on Gay Pride, visit We Are Proud.
Whatever floats your boat
The canal parade is the festival's centrepiece, where lavishly decorated barges give the term 'float' a literal meaning. On the Saturday of the festival (in 2013, that's 3 August) participants on 80 vessels soak up the Dutch sun and put on a show with their onboard DJs, show-stopping themes and plenty of smiles, pleasing all spectators on the banks of the Prinsengracht and Amstel River.
Last year, 188 groups and organisations applied for a spot in the official parade, proving that the event is more popular then ever. It was also the first time that a Turkish boat participated in the parade, representing the some 20,000 gays and lesbians in the Netherlands who are of Turkish descent - particularly important as Amsterdam celebrated the 400-year-old relationship between both countries.
Meanwhile smaller boats line the canal walls and at the mouths of adjoining canals, enjoying the party by shimmying up to each other, forming a flotilla of fun.
Below is a video of some of the highlight's Amsterdam Gay Pride's boat parade in 2011.
Alternative Amsterdam Gay Pride events
An annual spectacle is the Drag Queen Olympics with events like the Stiletto Sprint, Handbag Discus and the 'Tug of Love'. Like a dressage competition, looks are as important as sporting prowess. All kings and queens are welcome on this rearranged yet even playing field, taking place at the Homomonument.
In 2012, the Tears of Pride March started at Mercatorplein and ended at the iconic Homomonument: a procession representing the more serious side of Pride: an impassioned display of solidarity and unapologetic visibility from the entire LGBT community of Amsterdam.
As always, Amsterdam Gay Pride is open to all, be they male or female, and ladies are invited to gather at any time at the L-Meeting Point at Saarein, which is the base for LesBian Pride. Special events are traditionally also hosted at IHLIA, the city's gay archive and library, and also on the sixth floor of the Amsterdam Public Library (OBA).
Events are essentially for all ages, but the festival's Grey Pride programme provides debates and performances that are geared towards a more mature audience.
For more information about LGBT tourism in Amsterdam, visit GAYtic.