Madrid, the capital city in the middle of Spain, is a fantastic travel destination any time of year. Most visitors head to Spain to experience Barcelona, but Madrid is just a quick 3 hour train ride away with the high speed AVE train. The center is historic, the museums are renowned, the parks are gorgeous and its nightlife is astounding. Madrid really only lacks a body of water for the hotter months, but it makes up for this with plenty of swimming pools, some just outside the center and others on rooftops terraces in the middle of everything. The open-minded, easy-going city once again held its annual Pride event, this time on the 10th anniversary of the legalization of marriage equality in Spain back in 2005 and will be the location for the upcoming World Pride to be held in 2017.
Madrid Pride always starts off the first weekend of July and officially begins on a Wednesday, wrapping up the following Sunday. In between these days are a multitude of events that are inspiring, creative, exciting and debaucherous all in one go. To kick-off the 5 day event, there’s the opening speech by LGBT activists and minor celebrities at Plaza de Chueca that draws a large crowd. There are several plazas around the city with stages for concerts and performances throughout the week with a wide range in music styles. There are several parties going on each night at various clubs in and around the center. Some of the more unique events that week include the high-heel race, water fight, Mr Gay España contest, kids events, and tours of the gayborhood. The whole city plays venue to the wide range of events that week.
The Pride parade in Madrid is really one of the best in Europe. It starts off quite low key, but slowly builds up to be a large, crazy, and wet party in the streets. As people squirt their tiny squirt guns to keep cool, gorgeous firemen also spray the crowd with their hoses. The big floats with plenty of half naked men and women dancing to club music bring up the rear of the parade. The best float to follow is the WE Party float. It’s known to have the best music and the hottest guys. People jump behind their favorite float and dance to the music as they meander down the streets to where the parade eventually ends, at an outdoor concert in a large plaza of course.
Madrid is well known for its party scene year round. It has some of the best gay, straight, and mixed clubs of any metropolitan city. Clubs like Fabrik, Joy, Sala Cool, Sala Bash, and La Riviera have regular parties throughout the year so of course there are special parties for during gay pride. One of our favorites is the WE Party Group which hosts WE parties about once a month in Madrid. During Pride, they have the WE Party Festival which is 5 days packed with 6 themed parties at some of the best venues around the city, one of the best ones being the PAPA Pool party at Aqua on Friday hosted by Eliad Cohen.
The type of people who generally attend Madrid’s Pride are a vast range. The event really isn’t just for the LGBT community. The whole city comes out to enjoy the free concerts in the plaza, the Pride Parade on Saturday, and wild nights out over the weekend. Big beefy studs swarm in and around Chueca, families go to the kid friendly events like Chueca Kids with games, activities, and facepainting for youngsters, and foreigners from all around join the locals to be apart of the action.
There is no pride park like at many other pride events in big cities. The whole city is essentially the Pride Park. All the official events are free like the concerts at one of the main plazas, the high heel race and Mr Gay Madrid contest. So you won’t spend anything. The parties are where things can start to get pricey. Early bird tickets to the WE parties can start at a reasonable €25, but prices can increase if you decide to go for an all access VIP pass though its worth it if you plan to hit all the parties. Essentially, the cost of Madrid Pride is what you make of it.
What Make’s it Unique?
This Pride is special for many reasons. It’s an all inclusive event that brings the LGBT community together with its allies to take advantage of all that Madrid has to offer. It’s the largest Pride event in Europe with nearly 2 million attendees. The Pride celebration sprawls through Madrid’s streets day and night during the annual event. With so much going on all over the city, it can only be described as well organized chaos.
Madrid Gay Scene
The gay scene in Madrid is quite large and very visible. Chueca is the official gay neighborhood just north of the main street of Gran Via. However, it’s also spread throughout the city. It is quite common to see same-sex couples walking hand-in-hand around all the neighborhoods in the center and though the gay bars and clubs are concentrated in Chueca, they’re also spread in and around the center. There are monthly club parties attracting the gay party goers like the WE parties that occur at La Riviera, one of the largest and best venues in Madrid. With such an abundant and active LGBT community, the gay scene in Madrid is really one of the most progressive ones in southern Europe.
The opening speech is the main political event of the week and shouldn’t be overlooked as it can remind us what Pride is really all about. Do know though its location at Plaza de Chueca gets very crowded and it’s all in Spanish. When choosing which of the many club parties to go to (if you just can’t make them all!) know that Sunday night usually has the best closing parties. However they’re all bound to be good as the gay parties goers are out in full force during Pride week. Lastly, be aware that the parade lasts a long time and though it may not be very exciting at first, it really picks up halfway through when the big floats appear. It’s definitely a parade not to be missed!