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Guide to Amsterdam's LGBTQI+ scene

Amsterdam has a wealth of venues, parties and events catering to the LGBTQI+ community. Here’s a handy guide on what to check out!

Where are the best LGBTQI+ bars in Amsterdam?

Cafe Het Mandje on the Zeedijk

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Image from Pauline Arkesteijn

Home to numerous bars catering to a diverse range of tastes, Amsterdam has everything from fun and friendly to dark and dirty. No matter what you’re up for, you’ll feel at home. PrikThe Queen’s Head and Café ‘t Mandje are welcoming and popular with locals and visitors alike. Head to TabooSoHoor Exit Café on Amsterdam’s gayest street, Reguliersdwarsstraat, for a tipple or two. You’ll also find old favourites like De Spijkerthe Web Bar and Eagle Amsterdam catering to the leather scene. And for the women, check our Bar Buka or Café Saarein.

Strut your stuff on the dancefloor

Amsterdam’s reputation as a party city is well-known, and the LGBTQI+ community knows a thing or two about how to have a good time. Club Church hosts regular club nights such as Blue, where great music and fun shows go hand in hand, and a changing selection of cheeky special nights catering to a diverse mix of tastes and fetishes. Both Rapido and Backdoor have gained a reputation for their debauched parties where DJs and performances set the scene for wild times on heaving dancefloors.

Grab a bite to eat

Need to fuel up? Across the city you’ll find a host of LGBTQI+-friendly restaurants serving great food with flavours from across the globe. Head to Lunchroom Downtown in the heart of Reguliersdwarsstraat for a relaxing bite as you sit and watch the passing throng. PAMELA in Oud-West is a highly popular boozy brunch spot by day and cocktail bar with a sweaty basement dancefloor by night. Mankind’s canal-side location is perfect for a quiet lunch, particularly when the weather is warm, or find your way to Brug34 on Utrechtsestraat where delicious drinks and mouthwatering snacks await.

Drag it up

The popularity of drag continues to increase, even here in Amsterdam. The first edition of RuPaul’s Drag Race Holland was broadcast last year and in the city you can see drag acts in many bars and clubs throughout the week. Want some meat with your fish (drag dictionary: a ‘fish’ is a very feminine queen)? Head to Sluisje where a steak dinner and a dynamite show guarantee a good night out. In June, Superball comes to town, a fierce drag competition that sees Europe’s boldest drag houses battle it out to take the crown. And Church is owned and run by Amsterdam’s wildest queen, the inimitable and fabulous Jennifer Hopelezz.

Catch a flick

There’s a lot for film buffs in Amsterdam. It’s Gay Movie Night at Pathé on the first Wednesday of the month, where a different gay film is screened each time. In March, Roze Filmdagen (Pink Film Days) at Ketelhuis cinema in Westerpark plays a selection of films from across the globe, all with LGTBQI+ themes and many in English. Around December, the International Queer and Migrant Film Festival shines the light on films with — yes, you guessed it — themes around queerness with a focus on migrants. It’s always a must-see.

Feel the heat

As the days warm up, the festivals unfold and the scene really starts to sizzle. Tropikali brings the spirit of Rio’s Carnivale to Amsterdam with an eclectic line-up of beats and grooves. Milkshake gets people in the mood with a fabulous atmosphere catering to the LGBTQI+ community; the focus is on respect, freedom and love for everyone. And the big ticket item is Queer & Pride Amsterdam. Towards the end of July and into early August, a dazzling ten-day programme featuring parties, exhibitions, performances, sport and so much more culminates with a glittering bang as Canal Parade sees amazingly decorated floats sail along cheered-on by enthusiastic crowds. And when that concludes, the streets, bars and squares fill up with proud revellers as the party continues well into the wee hours. After a bit of a rest, the leather community comes out to play at Amsterdam Leather Pride late in autumn.