10 of the biggest Pride celebrations around the world

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10 of the biggest Pride celebrations around the world

These days, LGBTQ+ Pride Month tends to bring to mind massive, candy-colored festivals and parades. But the earliest Pride celebrations were much smaller. Most appeared in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a pivotal turning point in LGBTQ+ history. They consisted of marches, demonstrations, and other gatherings to raise awareness of the systematic inequalities faced by queer individuals.

Of course, the LGBTQ+ rights movement and its associated Pride events have evolved over time. Most festivities are now in June, designated as LGBTQ+ Pride Month in commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising. The scope of Pride has also changed, as more than 100 countries hold celebrations every year according to a 2022 report from Outright International.

But one thing that hasn't changed is the intention behind Pride: to recognize human rights and freedom to express love, sexuality, and gender identity. Even and especially in countries where LGBTQ+ rights are threatened, Pride is a vital opportunity to uplift members of the community and continue the fight for equality in all forms.

To showcase some of the biggest and brightest LGBTQ+ Pride festivities out there, Stacker looked at information from AFAR, Thrillist, and other sources to compile a list of 10 of the biggest Pride celebrations around the world. If you're not able to travel to, say, São Paulo or Madrid, you can still celebrate Pride by looking for other Pride celebrations near you or donating to any number of LGBTQ+ organizations.

Visit thestacker.com for similar lists and stories.

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Parada do Orgulho LGBT+ de São Paulo

Widely regarded as the largest LGBTQ+ Pride celebration in the world, the multiday Parada do Orgulho LGBT+ de São Paulo (aka São Paulo Pride) runs from the end of May to early June. The earliest celebration in 1997 had only about 2,000 participants, but it's drawn upward of 3 million people in recent years. As the centerpiece of São Paulo Pride, the Associação da Parada do Orgulho LGBT+ de São Paulo kicks off a politically themed parade with activists, dancers, and drag performers.

Though Brazil has legalized gay marriage and banned conversion therapy, it has one of the world's highest murder rates of LGBTQ+ individuals. Openly homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro was also elected in 2018, fueling concerns for the future of LGBTQ+ rights. But the Parada do Orgulho LGBT+ de São Paulo continues to further the fight for change in Brazil.

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NYC Pride

New York City is home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in North America and, arguably, the very birthplace of LGBTQ+ Pride as a whole. The famous Stonewall Uprising happened right in Greenwich Village, and though it wasn't the first of its kind, the uprising drew nationwide attention to the community and increased support for the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Hosted by the organization Heritage of Pride, NYC Pride festivities include a march, a street fair, and a youth Pride festival, all of which see up to 2 million attendees combined. Many nonprofit organizations and community leaders participate in the colorful parade every year. Plus, the official NYC Pride is just the start—dozens of other Pride celebrations occur across the city during the month of June. Make sure to keep an eye out for other fun events, from party cruises to walking history tours.

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San Francisco Pride

Every year, almost a million people participate in San Francisco Pride, according to the nonprofit of the same name that runs the show. Held in a city famed for its inclusivity, the festivities feature a diverse array of performers, plus a headlining star who serves as the celebrity grand marshal. Politicians from near and far also attend to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Though some Pride events of this scale charge an entrance fee, San Francisco Pride is free to attend. Events take place throughout the month of June, including a kickoff party, human rights summit, and the beloved San Francisco Pride Parade.

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Madrid Orgullo

Madrid Orgullo (Madrid Pride) holds the title of Europe's largest Pride celebration, comprising more than a week of festivities all over the city. Events include dance performances, poetry readings, live theater, and much more, capped off by the Madrid Pride Parade downtown. According to organizers, attendants number more than 2 million.

Madrid itself is recognized as one of the top destinations in the world for LGBTQ+ travelers, though recent legal battles have called that status into question. In December 2023, Madrid's regional assembly repealed protections for transgender individuals, effectively legalizing discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexuality. Despite setbacks like this one, Madrid Pride continues to increase visibility and support for the queer community.

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Tel Aviv Pride

Tel Aviv, Israel, is known for holding the largest LGBTQ+ Pride celebration in the Middle East. More than 150,000 attendees participated in the Pride parade and accompanying party in June 2023.

Same-sex marriage isn't legal in Israel, but the country is considered to be fairly tolerant toward openly LGBTQ+ individuals compared to most of the Middle East. However, some activist groups have criticized the Israeli government for engaging in what is known as "pinkwashing," accusing the country of touting its support for more progressive values like LGBTQ+ rights in order to distract from what organizations such as Amnesty International have characterized as long-standing violations of Palestinian human rights.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai recently announced that the 2024 parade has been canceled out of respect for Israeli citizens currently held hostage in Gaza. The parade will be replaced by a more somber Pride rally, though the celebration is expected to return in 2025.

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Johannesburg Pride

The largest and oldest Pride parade in Africa, Johannesburg Pride has taken over the South African city every October for more than three decades. The nonprofit Pride of Africa, which organizes the event, estimated that the 2023 parade drew about 24,000 marchers.

Notably, South Africa is the only African country to have legalized same-sex marriage. Joburg Pride unites attendees to show solidarity for other LGBTQ+ communities, especially in nearby countries. The celebration recognizes how far LGBTQ+ rights have come in South Africa, and serves as a stark reminder that this hard-won progress can't be found everywhere.

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Taiwan Pride

Every October, East Asia's largest Pride march is held in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan Pride first took place in 2003. Twenty years later, the celebration welcomed more than 170,000 attendees.

Taiwan Pride typically features a half-day-long parade, opening and closing ceremonies, and a market area. Prominent politicians also often attend to show support for the community, as Taiwan is regarded as one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly countries in Asia. It's the first Asian country to have legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, and gay couples were granted the right to adopt children in 2023.

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QC Pride PH Festival

It's official—the Philippines' Quezon City has hosted Southeast Asia's largest LGBTQ+ Pride celebration. Nearly 111,000 people participated in QC Pride PH Festival in 2023, quadruple the attendance from the prior year, according to reports from the Quezon City government.

The success of Quezon City's Pride celebration and other nearby events could be a sign of changing times in the traditionally Catholic, conservative nation. Though same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country for now, some couples in Quezon City have received the right to make medical decisions for their partners. A 2023 survey showed that support for gay people is on the rise across the country.

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Sydney WorldPride

With over a million attendees in 2023, Sydney WorldPride ranks as the largest Pride festival in the Southern Hemisphere. It's also one of the oldest major Pride events in the world, first celebrated as a "Mardi Gras" back in 1978.

Since the festival is tied to Mardi Gras, Sydney WorldPride runs from mid-February to the beginning of March. Over more than two weeks, wildly decked-out revelers take to the streets and transform the whole city. Across Sydney, attendees can check out different activities and events like the Bondi Beach Party, Pride Parade, and the Festival First Light.

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Pride Toronto

Canada's largest LGBTQ+ Pride parade, Pride Toronto dates back to 1971 when it was just a 300-person picnic put together by a local, pro-LGBTQ+ organization. In 2023, Pride Toronto saw roughly 3 million visitors. Hundreds of different performers and vendors take part, including the world's largest and longest-running queer theater troupe, Buddies in Bad Times.

Attendees come from all over the U.S. and Canada to watch the parade, listen to live music, and show support for the LGBTQ+ community. In case you miss Pride Toronto, you can experience a taste of it year-round at the city's famous "Gay Village," the center of the festivities and home to many independent, LGBTQ+-owned businesses.

Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Tim Bruns.



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