Germany's second largest city, the northern port city of Hamburg feels more accessible and inviting than you might expect, with its relatively low and highly attractive skyline, and its picturesque position on the River Elbe. The city of 1.8 million (5 million metro) is laced by canals and bridges, punctuated by graceful parks, and known for its considerable trove of modern and contemporary architecture.
Hamburg has a stellar live-music and performing arts scene, and love of cafe and beer-garden culture during the temperate warmer months, and an appreciation for festivals, including one of the largest LGBT celebrations in Germany, Hamburg Gay Pride, also known as Christopher Street Day (CSD) Hamburg. Comprising an entire summertime week of events and culminating with a long weekend of street festivals and a parade, Hamburg Pride takes place this year from July 30 through August 7, 2016, with the main weekend of activities on August 5 through 7.
This year marks the 35th observation of Hamburg Gay Pride, which takes place later in the year than the country's other largest Pride events, such as Berlin, Cologne, Munich, and Frankfurt. Hamburg's location in north-central Germany, near both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, make it a popular LGBT destination - especially during Pride (at which approximately 180,000 attend) - with travelers from Copenhagen and Amsterdam; however, note that Amsterdam's Gay Pride festival takes place at the same time.
Hamburg's vibrant and extensive Pride Week commences on July 30, beginning with an Opening Night ceremony and continuing with several parties, cultural events, and other gatherings. A good starting point if you're coming to town during the week is the Hamburg Pride House at An der Alster 40, which is near the heart of the city's Gay Village, has a cafe, a staff able to provide information on the local scene, and a space that hosts several events.
It's open from July 31 through August 4.
The Hamburg Pride Festival takes place over three days, from Friday, August 5, through Sunday, August 7. It takes place at the lovely waterfront promenades of Jungfernstieg and Ballindamm, in the city's bustling Neustadt district, overlooking Lake Binnenalster. The hours are 3 pm until midnight on Friday, Saturday 11 am until midnight, and Sunday 11 am until 10 pm. The setting ranks right up there among the prettiest Pride festival locations anywhere in Europe. Bands and DJs perform on stages set up at the festival, which also includes arts and crafts, food booths, community and political organizations, and more.
On Saturday, August 6, the Hamburg Gay Pride Parade sets off with more than 15,000 marchers near the city's main railway station at the corner of Lange Reihe and Schmilinskystraße, about 20-minute walk northeast of the festival grounds.
Parties are, of course, a huge part of Hamburg's celebration - you can view a full list of Hamburg Pride Parties here.
Planning to visit Hamburg by train? Here's the inside scoop on buying a Eurail Pass.
The Hamburg Office of Tourism also has a great, comprehensive site that offers plenty of tips and assistance with vacation planning, and the German Office of Tourism's site on GLBT travel has an enlightening section on Hamburg and Northern Germany.