Pride Amsterdam, despite its relatively short history since 1996, has earned a global reputation as one of the most renowned LGBTQ+ events. What distinguishes this celebration is its iconic Canal Parade, where more than 80 creatively adorned boats traverse Amsterdam’s picturesque waterways, captivating hundreds of thousands of spectators in a spectacle that is unique to the city.
This vibrant event showcases an exceptional fusion of cultural diversity, progressive attitudes, and a thriving LGBTQ+ community, making it a Pride festival that inspires emulation by other cities. With its inclusive mindset, breathtaking architecture, and charming canals, Amsterdam provides an enchanting backdrop for this commemoration of love and equality.
Along with our friends at British Airways, we’ve put together a Pride Amsterdam guide featuring our picks from this year’s celebration.
Why float when you can boat? The boat parade during Pride Amsterdam is an extraordinary spectacle that captivates locals and visitors alike, as barges and dinghies glam up the city’s waterways and put on a vibrant display of creativity and celebration. Elaborately decorated boats become floating stages, hosting DJs, performers, and spirited participants, who dance, sing, and spread joy along Amsterdam’s world-famous canals. The parade represents the rich diversity and inclusivity of the city’s LGBTQ+ community, taking advantage of its unique infrastructure by turning the canals into a nautical parade route. Ahoy, sailors!
After the Canal Parade is over, you’ll definitely want to walk (or sail) on down to Dam Square, where the official MainStage party takes place. From the iconic Amsterdam waterways to its equally iconic square, expect to dance the afternoon away amid thousands of fellow Pride attendees to entertainment provided by both local and global talent. An array of supremely talented singers, DJs, dancers, drag queens and divas keep the party going for three whole days from Friday 4 August till Sunday 6.
PRIK – meaning “fizz” or “bubbles” in Dutch – is so named because it serves prosecco on tap. Besides this popular tipple, PRIK is renowned for its wide array of cocktails, as well as its lively and welcoming atmosphere. During Pride, this is the place to gather for exuberant street parties, with people from across the community coming together to celebrate to a soundtrack of live performers and DJs. Though things can get quite busy here during Pride, the atmosphere is always lively, and you’re guaranteed to make new friends.
As the city’s best-known lesbian bar, its slogan says it all: “Where girls meet”. Bar Buka has drinking and dancing, but it’s also known for its rotating curations of artworks by local female artists that you can see adorning the walls. Bar Buka’s selection of artisanal drinks is also very impressive, with a seemingly never-ending list of cocktails. The bar welcomes everyone and is one of those cosy spots where you’ll make friends in minutes.
Placed in 1987, this monument commemorates persecuted queer people and is located near the tranquil banks of the Keizersgracht. This is the perfect stop on a walk along the city’s waterways, giving you a moment to pause and to appreciate the meaning of Pride. The spot is overlooked by the ancient Westerkerk church, the bells of which were often mentioned by Anne Frank in her diaries as a sound of comfort.
Café ‘t Mandje
Believed to be the world’s oldest gay bar still in operation, the cosy Café ’t Mandje embodies the very essence of Pride. It was opened in 1927 as a haven for queer people by the defiant and pioneering Bet van Beeren, a lesbian known for her flamboyance and bending of gender rules, and was still run by the same family up until 2020. It’s now owned by a foundation, whose goal is to preserve the bar’s original interior for the next 100 years. During Pride, Café ’t Mandje will hold fabulous street parties on Friday and Saturday, with everyone welcome to join the celebrations amid this important part of queer history.
The Go Gallery
If you’re all partied out, an afternoon of coffee and peacefully browsing galleries is the perfect way to recharge your batteries. Each year, the Go Gallery holds a special exhibition of queer artwork to mark Pride. Until 19 August this year, it will feature the works of eight artists, including paintings, illustrations, and photographs.
Open Air Cinema Mercatorplein
The city’s open-air cinema will show LGBTQ+-themed films in the evenings leading up to the main Pride event, on Wednesday 2 August and Thursday 3. This is the perfect way to relax with some popcorn while enjoying the balmy summer air. There are only 400 places available, so it’s recommended that you turn up early. The best thing? It’s free. Taking your own snacks is also encouraged, meaning no need to break the bank for a handful of pick ’n’ mix.
Ready to experience Pride Amsterdam for yourself? Check out British Airways to explore flights and hotel packages now.