The Middle East isn’t particularly known for its celebration of minority groups, so it’s a bit of a surprise to find that one of the world’s biggest Pride parades takes place in Tel Aviv during June each year.
More than 100,000 outlandishly dressed – perhaps that should be under-dressed – slaves to the rhythm arrive on the Mediterranean coast each year to wave the rainbow flag for equality, peace and the right to party with their same-sex peers and partners.
The bars, clubs and hotels of Tel Aviv open to welcome the LGBQTI community during the week, hosting enough parties to send you home exhausted, but make sure you keep something in reserve. By far the biggest event comes at the end of the week, with a huge parade that starts in Meir Park and weaves down the main drag. Join the cavalcades of motorbikes, take a sip at a moving bar and shake what your mamma gave you in the sea of rainbow-clad revellers as they march down the street.
Unlike most parades, this one has a ‘no barricades’ approach, so anyone and everyone can dance between the floats, follow them for a distance, drop back to others and generally become one with the shifting sea of humanity.
Eventually the whole shebang ends up on Gordon Beach at about 3pm where a huge dance party rages right through till sunset. Best of all, it’s a free event, so anyone who wants to celebrate the spirit of gay pride can join right in.
Festival access is free but keep some money handy for food and drinks while partying.
Bring good walking shoes and a smile!
Tel Aviv is a gay-friendly city, but remember, if you’re travelling beyond the capital, that’s not always the case.
Don’t come just for the parade; gay pride celebrations will have you partying for the whole week!