When you move abroad, whether it be for university study, an internship or a new career, there’s much more to your experience than just work! And one of the many great things about the LGBTQ community is how many doors they open. Of course there are the powerful Pride events (especially epic in cities like Berlin and Helsinki), but music festivals are also popular within gay culture across Europe.
Arriving to a diverse and accepting European city from a country that is still discriminatory toward the LGBTQ community, is truly eye-opening. And even if you come from a city that is very welcoming, it’s still good to know where you can go to to celebrate and be yourself with new and like-minded friends.
Once you set up residence in Europe, you can begin mapping out some of the best LGBTQ-friendly music festivals throughout the continent. As a student or a young professional, the chances are that you can qualify for reduced rail travel passes, which will make it not only easy, but also cost-effective, to take in as many events as you wish.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular festivals for the LBGTQ community!
Greece is near the top of the list for countries that are welcoming and supportive of the LGBTQ culture, due in part to their early non-discrimination laws. The scene is pumping, which explains why the Greek islands are often a popular stop on any gay cruises. But there’s even a more compelling reason to visit magnificent Greece as a gay person, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the Acropolis.
The JackieO’ Summer Party goes, as the name implies, all summer long in Mykonos. This upscale beach club is the epicenter of the party and music scene, which also gets a lot of attention from the LGBTQ community. Welcoming regular musical acts that range in diversity and also represent the tastes of interests of their gay attendees, you can check the schedule of festivals and events to be sure you don’t miss a beat — literally. Needless to say, you can always expect a great time and a handful of stories to go down in the memory book.
Spartacus, a popular LGBTQ blog that promotes activities, travel and other lifestyle topics for the community, recently ranked Croatia in their lastest guide in the ninth tier of gay acceptance, which is the same as the United States. This is a massive change because, even though legal decisions were made decades ago, some gay people have never felt truly accepted there. However, times are changing, and for the better!
This is why it’s the perfect time to check out SuncéBeat, which lasts for an entire week in July near the Dalmatian coast. Known for its DJs, mixing house beats from a variety of genres, it’s unique because the performances are held just about anywhere, including on boats! This event is LGBTQ-friendly, with a special appreciation for the late-night dance party scene.
Ireland has fought for LGBTQ equality for years, making same-sex marriages legal in 2010. The thriving scene is impressive in the large city of Dublin, but also in some of Ireland’s smaller locales and areas, such as Sligo, which hosts a large Pride parade. The gay community also actively plays a big part in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations all across the country.
But if you’re looking for an LGBTQ-approved festival with musical acts, The Outing is the obvious choice in September. Filled with energetic, matchmaking games, unique activities by day and techno or glam parties that go into the early morning, this is a great event for the adventurous of spirit!
Barcelona has long been known as a welcoming locale for the LGBTQ community. Since the 1970s, a myriad of groups and associations have fought to create equality for all, culminating in the Anti-Homophobia Act. With many events held throughout the year, there are several reasons to visit and explore everything that this fascinating city has to offer, including the well-known, gay-friendly nudist beach, Mar Bella.
However, if you’re after music, then you’ve definitely come to the right place. Held throughout three days in the sunny summer season, Sónar is one of the top music festivals in all of Spain, and it welcomes at least 100,000 visitors. Big on electronic music and late-night rave parties, it has become a favorite with LGBTQ Europeans and visitors alike.
Another very LGBTQ-friendly destination, Gothenburg, Sweden, is a mecca for anyone or anything that doesn’t quite fit inside the box. Named the top gay city in Sweden by RSFL, a non-profit organization, it also made the top 10 LGBTQ cities by the British LGBT Awards. During June, West Pride is one of the best celebrations in the country, if not all of Europe.
Way Out West is filled with the summer’s top international acts, which are spread out across the entire city at multiple venues. It’s also centered on sustainability and is attended in large volumes by the LGBTQ community. Costumes and fun makeup are encouraged, and the unique Scandinavian edge really gives this music fest an unforgettable vibe.
As a part of the LGBTQ community, you won’t want to miss a visit to Vienna! This intoxicating city has been home to well-known gay composers, architects and even members of the Royal family. The Homosexual Initiative of Vienna (HOSI) is at the root of the area’s thriving scene, organizing countless events throughout the year.
So, it’s no wonder that Vienna is home to Life Ball, which is the largest non-profit event to benefit the research of HIV and AIDS in Europe. Hosted in June, you can expect over-the-top costumes and an impressive lineup of international musical acts, and even a celebrity appearance or two.
Soho is known throughout Europe as the center for LGBTQ restaurants and nightlife in London, including The Queen Adelaide and The Glory. So, it’s easy to see why the city is regularly voted as one of the top gay-friendly locales. Plus, London’s buzzing atmosphere is an instant attraction for anyone looking to have a great time with open acceptance.
If you’re looking for a special reason to visit London, the Mighty Hoopla is a musical event unlike any other! Commonly dubbed the “ultimate Pop extravaganza,” one fantastic day in June rolls out the carpet for music, fun and plenty of games.
Amsterdam is a city heralded for its long history of support for LGBTQ rights and outspoken refusal of discrimination. That’s why you’ll find exceptional organizations such as the international LGBTQ student association ASVGay, and Police Amsterdam, which is a police-operated task force that offers assistance to anyone harassed or harmed due to their sexual orientation.
If you’re in town and looking for a music festival where the scene is open and filled with adventure, then the Milkshake Festival is right up your alley. Held at the end of July, you’ll see performances from international DJs and pumped-up musical acts. Come for the music, but stay for the party!
With its sparkling beaches and private coves, this destination is truly a getaway to remember, and it’s practically legendary with the LGBTQ crowd, especially women. Just like its cousin Barcelona, Mallorca revels in Spain’s equality laws, including the legality of same-sex marriage back in 2005 and the bill passed to make sexual discrimination illegal in 1995.
That’s why this is the ideal spot for ELLA Festival, an empowering paradise for lesbians with an interest in some of the hottest musical acts in Europe. Interestingly, ELLA is also held in other locations, but Mallorca is its summer home in late August / early September.
When you’re deciding which country is best for your move abroad, there are certainly a number of things to consider, such as how safe a city is. However, beyond the time that you’ll spend studying or working, you’ll want to know that there will be heaps of fun events that will make up a good portion of your favorite memories while living abroad.