Europe, famous for its liberal and welcoming attitude towards the LGBTQ community, attracts a vast number of queer travelers from all over the world each year. The continent is one of the safest and most rewarding locations worth traveling to for members of the LGBTQ community, with anti-discrimination laws present in all of the 28 member states. It does not come as a huge surprise then that there are hundreds upon thousands of LGBTQ-centred celebrations and festivals occurring across Europe each year. From beach parties and high-energy carnivals to busy street fairs and sporty rendezvous, here are the best European LGBTQ events worth traveling for in 2020.
1. Sitges Carnival — Sitges, Spain
Regarded as one of the most gay-friendly cities in Europe, Sitges and its impressive gay-party circuit is a magnet for queer travelers. Each February, the town draws in over 300,000 attendees to celebrate the notorious Sitges Carnival. The event is held directly before Lent each year, giving guests a chance to let their hair down and give in to all their temptations before the religious festivities begin.
During the week of the carnival, there are several parties catered specifically to the LGBTQ community, such as Noches de Las Mantillas at Comodin, where it is encouraged to dress in traditional Spanish wedding and funeral attire. The most well-anticipated events are the extravagant parades, where colorful floats, high-energy music, and people adorned in over-the-top carnival costumes take over the streets. In 2020, the two main parades will be hosted on February 23 (Sunday) and February 25 (Tuesday), and the only rule attendees need to follow is “dress to impress.”
When: February 20-26, 2020
2. Gay Snowhappening — Sölden, Austria
Up atop the snowy alps, Gay Snowhappening brings together gay men for a week-long skiing extravaganza. Meli and Matainia, the drag queen hosts for the event, welcome attendees to the hills of Austria and prepare guests for a week full of snow-sports and — of course — a lot of partying. While the highlight of the event is, of course, the snow, each day back-to-back activities and parties keep the energy alive into the night, including lively karaoke, hot tub parties, and barbeques.
Different passes are available depending on how long guests plan to attend, with the additional option of an exclusive ‘gold’ pass for attendees who want to enjoy everything Gay Snowhappening has to offer, providing benefits such as exclusive dinners and nighttime skiing. It is worth noting that atop the purchase of the event ticket, those attending will also have to pay for their own accommodation and a Ski Pass to gain access to the slopes. For those interested, the entire program for this year’s event has already been posted.
When: March 21-28, 2020
3. Disney Pride — Paris, France
For the first time, Disney Pride is being hosted in 2020 within the Disneyland Park, providing the unique opportunity to celebrate the LGBTQ community at one of the most magical places on Earth. After stocking up on exclusive Disney Pride merchandise, including a rainbow variation of the iconic Mickey Mouse ears, guests will be welcomed into the park by rainbow balloons and glistening lights. The festivities kick off at 8:00 PM and carry on into the early hours of the morning, with live performances and high-energy dance parties taking over the main square. Guests are also invited to an exclusive meet and greet with some of Disney’s most famous faces, and they have the rare opportunity to ride selected attractions until 2:00 AM — two hours past the park’s usual closing time.
Special pride packages are available to guests, providing attendees with onsite accommodation and easy access into the park for the pride celebrations.
When: June 6, 2020
4. EuroPride — Thessaloniki, Greece
First held in 1992 in London, EuroPride is the largest and busiest annual pride event in Europe. Each year a new European city competes to host the event, where thousands upon thousands of guests pour into the location to enjoy the week-long festivities. In 2019, Vienna hosted Europride, where approximately 500,000 people lined the streets to witness the iconic parade.
2020 marks the first year EuroPride will be held in a southeastern European city as sunny Thessaloniki, Greece, is currently preparing to host the notorious event. The city aims to highlight the LGBTQ community’s ability to thrive despite harsh conditions and promises to provide a “safe, political EuroPride that is still full of vibe and excitement.” The pride parade will occur on June 27 when temperatures are estimated to be around 77°F and attendees are encouraged to wear their most flamboyant — though “cool” and weather-appropriate — clothing.
When: June 20-28, 2020
5. L Fest — Llandudno, Wales, UK
Britain’s award-winning L-Fest is returning in 2020 to the coastal Welsh town of Llandudno where attendees can enjoy Britains’s only lesbian music, arts, and comedy festival by the seaside. L Fest is a proudly inclusive event, welcoming trans women, allies of all sexualities and genders (yes, you may see the odd man wandering around L Fest), families, children, solo travelers, and even dogs with open arms and hearts. Numerous stages, tents, and stalls are scattered around the festival site, where attendees can enjoy a wide range of activities, including live musical performances and DJs, immersive workshops, lesbian cinema showings, family activities, meet and greets specifically catered towards solo-travelers, beach sports, and club nights.
Due to L Fest 2020 being highly anticipated, tickets are currently sold out, though if you are interested you can be placed on a waitlist to be notified when more tickets become available.
When: July 24-27, 2020
6. Ella France Festival — Bordeaux, France
Kicking off at the end of July, the Ella France Festival welcomes LGBTQ women from all walks of life to celebrate queer female empowerment and visibility. As long as you identify as a woman, the festival will welcome you as it is proud to be a trans-friendly event. The Ella France Festival promotes the message that all women should be able to assert their identity without fear, upholding this sentiment through multiple conferences and communication workshops that actively involve participants.
Aside from the intellectual and thought-provoking elements of the festival, guests are also invited along to meditation sessions, late-night parties, guided tours of Bordeaux, concerts, and readings of queer literature. For those who are interested in the event, the full program for the week has already been scheduled and posted.
When: July 31-August 6, 2020
7. Pink Lake Festival — Pörtschach am Wörthersee, Austria
Taking place in Pörtschach am Wörthersee, Austria, the annual Pink Lake Festival invites members of the LGBTQ to a long weekend of fun by the waters of Wörthersee Lake. Pink Lake is most famous for its lavish party cruises, where attendees are encouraged to put on their most fashionable boat-wear before hopping aboard. While onboard, guests live lavishly while sipping on fruity cocktails and hitting the dance floor, all to the backing track of modern dance music from live DJs. When not frolicking on the water, exuberant parties — hosted by popular local drag queens — are held in a variety of extravagant locations, including the royals gardens of Leonstain Castle and on the nearby Flower Island. Attendees should prepare to get their hair wet and be sure to bring a towel, as even the on-land parties have an abundance of watersport options, swimming spots, and beach games to keep guests busy.
When: August 27-30, 2020
8. Folsom Europe — Berlin, Germany
Taking inspiration from San Francisco’s notorious street party of the same name, Folsom Europe proudly celebrates all things fetish, leather, and BDSM within the bustling streets of Berlin, Germany. As the largest fetish street fair in Europe, Folsom brings together like-minded individuals for a long weekend full of fun, using the event to volley against prejudice and raise money for various charitable causes.
The main street party is held on Saturday, September 12, when attendees can expect cascades of scantily clad and leather-dressed men to take over the district of Berlin-Schöneberg. Throughout the night, various parties take place across the city, including several events that cater to specific fetishes and boat parties that take Folsom out onto the water.
When: September 9-13, 2020