Some of my favorite summer events and festivals are the gay prides. The lively and jovial crowds, the people in sexy costumes and extravagant floats—it’s all just so much fun.
I’ve been lucky to travel to gay prides all over the world, from Barcelona Pride to Berlin’s annual Christopher Street Day pride parade and festival. June is officially the start of the gay summer season with festivals and pride events in just about every major city. Those June pride events stretch throughout the summer.
Late summer pride festivals include Stockholm Pride, Amsterdam’s Milkshake Festival, Manchester Pride (the UK’s largest pride festival), Chicago’s Northalstead Market Days, and Dallas Pride. And then, depending upon where you’re located, the summer season might even be extended. For example, Australia’s pride events (the big one being Sydney Pride) take place in February/March every year—which is still summer in the southern hemisphere. And in America, Palm Springs Pride in California is each November—still the warm season because of the desert climate.
I don’t know about you, but traveling for gay pride events in foreign cities is one of my favorite ways to experience a new destination. You get to see a completely different side of the city that otherwise might not be seen. Activities and things to do are likely different than on any other normal weekend, but that’s half the fun. To manage all that fun, I’ve put together a helpful guide on what to pack when traveling for gay pride.
Of course what you pack depends on the destination as well. Going to Tel Aviv for gay pride? You’ll want a swimsuit (preferably skimpy). In Berlin? No swimsuits necessary. Also: note that this list is mostly geared toward those gay pride festivals in traditionally LGBTQ-friendly destinations!
Summertime Travel Packing Essentials for Gay Pride
What to bring to pride — a pride packing list for every type of gay! Use my packing guide no matter if you’re going to a pride festival, traveling to an LGBTQ pride destination, or just attending an afternoon protest or pride march. Bring these summertime gay essentials for the maximum amount of fun!
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1. Your favorite underwear
If the sun is shining and it’s summer, people at pride festivals wear surprisingly little clothes. (That’s probably not surprising.) And while it’s certainly possible to find a lot of skin during a gay pride, you can also expect quite a bit of cool clothes. Funny t-shirts, mesh clothing, sexy underwear, leather — you name it, you’ll probably see it at gay pride.
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2. Fashion accessories
A little bit of bling can go a long way at pride. It’s an easy way to glam up for a fun day in the sun. I’ve recently been sporting a coconut bracelet from a recent trip to Costa Rica, but other accessories like necklaces, statement jewelry or even just glitter (lots and lots of glitter) are great to wear at pride festivals for an extra bit of glamour (and maybe an extra bit of attention from potential suitors).
Buy: Cheap bracelets are plentiful at pride festivals – whether leather scraps or rainbows.
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3. Good, comfortable shoes
Unless you’re at a gay pride festival on the beach (looking at you, Tel Aviv), shoes are probably the one piece of clothing you’re guaranteed to find. Marchers in the festival might be totally naked, but they’ll still be wearing shoes. If you plan to march, you’ve got two options: either go for comfort, or go for style. Try high heels if you dare. A lot of pride festivals even have “high heel stiletto races” where drag performers race down a street in their highest heels for a prize (looking at you, Amsterdam).
Buy: Converse, Adidas, TOMS – the usuals are always great for comfort. But if you’re going for style or you’re in drag, go for the spectacular: high heels and ridiculous colors are sure to steal attention.
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4. Pride flags and rainbow things!
A staple of every pride is the rainbow flag. Whether it’s painted on your face or a piece of cloth, it’ll be everywhere. Bring one of your own or else find one at the pride. Learn more about the history of the gay pride flag here.
Buy: Glitter! Pride flag stickers and other rainbow-coated things will almost always be available during parades and festivals. And if you don’t have your own glitter, you’ll almost always find someone to share their own at pride.
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5. A portable charger
You’ll likely be using your phone a lot to take pictures, navigate, and stay in touch with friends. I can’t tell you how many times my phone has died while out at a pride event. Bring a portable charger to keep your phone charged throughout the day. Grindr can really drain your battery life!
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5. Sunscreen & sun protection
It’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and apply it liberally throughout the day—it’s annoying, maybe, but essential! Stay safe while out in the sun.
Don’t forget to bring a hat and sunglasses too.
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Bring some cash for food, drinks, and souvenirs. Some vendors may not accept credit cards and if you end up at a drag show, you’ll want the cash for drag queen tips!
Follow Adam on Instagram for more pride photos: