Antwerp Gay Pride 2016

••• Grote Markt at night. photo by Andrew Collins

Antwerp Gay Pride is a major cultural event intended to showcase the city's tremendous diversity and tolerance. Antwerp actually staged Belgium's first GLBT Pride Parade in 1979 but was without such an event before the celebration was redeveloped several years ago.

Antwerp Gay Pride takes place the weekend of August 13 and 14, 2016, but there are a number of events taking place during the days leading up, especially on Thursday and Friday.

Take a look at the official Antwerp Gay Pride calendar of events for details.

Organizers of Antwerp Pride have made no secret of wanting to present a celebration that's less commercial than some currently held around Europe, although this action-packed event also has the support of the local retail and hospitality industries, who definitely have a presence at the event. But organizers also see Antwerp Pride as a way to raise awareness of Gay Rights around the world, and to increase the visibility of Antwerp's highly visible (and enthusiastically accepted) GLBT community, which is quite sizable here. Since Belgium legalized gay marriage in 2003, hundreds of same-sex couples have since tied the knot.

Highlights of the week-long Antwerp Pride festival include a Pride Opening Midsummer Party on Thursday, queer city tours, several gatherings related to various festishes (jockstraps, chaps, naked, boots, etc.), a "Tranny-Oke" sing-along, and myriad parties and mixers at clubs and venues throughout the city.

Activities really kick into high gear on Saturday, August 13, a 2 pm Pride Parade, which is followed by the Wave Festival, held at Antwerp’s Steenplein. That evening, it's time for Extravaganza - the Official Pride Party, held from 11 pm (at the Club Cafe d'Anvers), lasting into the early morning hours of Sunday.

Sunday, August 14, is Antwerp Pride's final day, and it includes the massive Pride Closing Festival. It's held at Grote Markt, from 2 pm throughout the afternoon and features a number of bands and performers.

Antwerp Gay Resources

Many of the city's gay-popular bars, restaurants, hotels, and shops have special events and parties throughout Pride Week. Check local gay papers, which are distributed at popular gay bars. And check out the Antwerp Gay Travel Guide by Patroc.com, which is very handy and has extensive information on the local gay scene. You can also learn a great deal about the city from the official local tourism organization, Visit Antwerp. Additional excellent trip-planning resources are the travel site produced by Tourism Flanders, and the Gay Travel site operated by the Belgian Tourist Office.