Amsterdam hosts one of the most fabulous gay pride celebrations in the world. The Amsterdam Pride Parade takes place on the city’s famous canals, traversing Prinsengracht from the west, down to the Amstel River then up to Oosterdok. Ninety boats took part in the parade last Saturday, and we were lucky to have a place to sit and watch them all go by.
After Queen’s Day, Pride is the biggest party of the year. The streets are filled with pink-clad revelers, and the canals are lined with boats throwing their own little rainbow celebrations. The best way to watch Pride is from an apartment with a view on the Prinsengracht (we were lucky enough to be invited to one); otherwise come before the parade starts at 2pm and occupy a spot on a bridge or by the canal.
Pride is a fantastic day for people-watching…
because the folks on the boats and streets can be just as colorful and interesting as the parade itself.
But we’re here for the parade, right? Let’s start the show!
Nothing like a silver-clad cowboy to kick off the festivities. Especially if he’s floating on the canals, powered entirely by jets of water. So cool!
One of the things I enjoy most about the Canal Parade is seeing government organizations with their own boats. Smartly dressed in uniform and waving proudly to the crowd, the police went with the motto “Pink in blue.”
There are few things more dreaded on a nationwide level than the arrival of this blue envelope in the mail. It means the Belastingdienst, or Tax Authority, wants your taxes! I found it hilarious that the Belastingdienst had a giant balloon version of the dreaded blue envelope on their float, together with the words “More colorful than you think!”
The GVB is the local public transport company of Amsterdam. They dressed up their float as one of the city’s ubiquitous trams and called themselves the Gay-VB. Cute.
Participating in the Pride Parade is also a way to make a statement. Amnesty International used their boat to protest anti-gay violence in Russia…
… while the AIDS Fonds sent out small “fishing” boats for donations for HIV testing, treatment and condom distribution.
But Pride can never be too serious. After all, this is a gay parade. If there’s one thing the gay community knows how to do, it’s how to have fun! From hunky sailors to gold and glitter, Pride is definitely Amsterdam’s most fabulous event of the year. It’s a time for everyone—gay or straight—to celebrate, let loose and party.
Some people might take the words “let it all hang out” a little too seriously, but it’s all in good fun.
For me, what really stood out beyond all the big boats and colorful costumes, was one little boat with two brides proudly proclaiming their 12 years of marriage. To me, this is what Pride is all about.
Side note: the Pride Parade is lots of fun, but it’s definitely not baby- or child-friendly! We wouldn’t have gone if we hadn’t been invited to a house party where we could put Tala down in a bedroom away from the noise. Everything is loud, loud, LOOOUUUD as all the boats try to outdo each other with the loudest music. For parents, it’s best to find a house party or use ear protectors for your little one. Just thought it was worth mentioning.