I’m in the Gothenburg Museum in Gothenburg, Sweden. Standing on the museum’s top floor, I’m looking at beautiful portraits of some of the world’s most incredible change makers for an inspiring exhibit called “We Have a Dream.” Queer museum marketer Alex Snäckerström is showing off some of the more LGBT portraits. As I wander into another room of black-and-white pictures, I see a small school group. Their teacher, according to my friend, is explaining the influence that a queer feminist has had on shifting the dialogue on immigration in Sweden. Young elementary school eyes shifted with excitement as the group of young minds listened to a museum curator. They then were asked to write down their own dreams on a sheet of paper. “The world needs to change or I’m outta here,” one child wrote. “Everyone is equal, love,” said another. This kind of incredible moment is why I love spending time in Sweden. It’s a country that teaches children from a young age about the world’s diversity and to respect people’s differences.
So, is there any place better to host this year’s EuroPride than in Sweden? The festival will take place, for the first time, in two cities: first in Stockholm (July 27-August 5) and then Gothenburg (August 14-19).
Here, we highlight 20 reasons why you should be planning your trip to Stockholm and Gothenburg this summer.
STOCKHOLM has been on LGBT travelers’ radar for a long time now. Its gorgeous architecture occupies the various islands and creates a storybook setting for adventure and romance that will only be heightened when the city is painted the colors of the rainbow. This year’s EuroPride will kick off here, and with good reason. Stockholm hosts the largest Pride festival in Scandinavia, and is pulling out all of the stops this year with a full program of art, music, festivals, and parties.
- EuroPride House officially opens Wednesday July 31 as the epicenter of debates, seminars, workshops, films, art exhibits, and theater.
- The Human Rights Conference in Stockholm will be held at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern where politicians and activists work to advance the LGBT population.
- For those who think Pride has become a little too PG, the Kinky Quarter and Rainbow stage allows for those looking to live out fetish fantasies with different try-out themes every day.
- Performances will happen throughout the day on the Rainbow Stage where lesser-known performances will entertain the crowds, along with theater performances both in English and Swedish. But at night, the main stage will host some of the biggest names including Arrhult, Conchita Wurst, Saga Becker, and more to be announced.
- The beautifully organized parade is expected to attract some 60,000 participants on foot with 250 floats and groups and 600,000 viewers on August 4. This year’s route: Kungsholmstorg – Norr Mälarstrand – Hantverkargatan – Stadshusbron – Tegelbacken – Rödbodtorget – Vasagatan – Kungsgatan – Sturegatan – Lidingövägen – Östermalms IP.
- Unlike Gothenburg, Stockholm Pride costs money (around $60). The pass, though, includes access to everything. You’ll get unlimited access to the main festival areas: Stockholm EuroPride Park and Stockholm EuroPride House. The money allows for Stockholm to pay for heightened security and more over-the-top attractions.
- Celebrate on a pirate ship or one of over a dozen LGBT-specific bars in the city. Lady Patricia is a docked pirate ship that transforms into a totally out-of-control fun gay bar on Sundays with seven bars: five indoors and two outdoors (open in summer); a restaurant, and a nightclub.
- Hotel parties are the places to be during Pride. The Berns Hotel, Hotel at Six, and Hotel Skeppsholmen will all be hosting pride celebrations to show off just how LGBT-friendly the city’s hospitality industry has become.
- Replenish your body with some Swedish fika (coffee & more). Pop into the gay-owned historic Hotel Diplomat located on Strandvägen in the city center of Stockholm for fabulous refreshments.
- Haven’t heard enough music during your visit? Don’t miss a chance to experience a moment with Sweden’s most famous sons and daughters—ABBA. Walk through the band’s history with the music, the clothes, the lyrics, musicals, and films of ABBA at the ABBA: The Museum. For the brave, you can even dance and sing along with the band (I did!).
GOTHENBURG feels more like Paris than Scandinavia with its gorgeous canals, sunny skies, and relaxed vibe. It is strategically located on the west coast of Sweden between Stockholm, Oslo, and Copenhagen and attracts tourists who want to take advantage of the city’s massive festival scene, incredible shopping experiences, warm-weather fun along the archipelago, and also fine dining (it’s home to Bhoga Restaurant, one of the best in Northern Europe).
- All pride events in Gothenburg are free, which includes concerts, pop-up shops, and festival grounds.
- Pride will take place during The Gothenburg Culture Festival – Kulturkalaset this means that over 1,300 additional events will be taking place including more concerts, film screenings, and dance performances. This also means an additional 1.5 million visitors.
- Bananarama and Culture Club are set to headline this year’s festivities! With more performances by top drag queens.
- Gothenburg has been at the forefront of LGBT rights. The city has created a video series featuring Alex, a transgender person in transition from female to male. In the Web series, Alex documents his journey.
- Gothenburg’s city government has devoted tons of resources toward putting on pride, but also ensuring that there are plenty of resources for LGBTQ people. One example of the city’s inclusivity of the LGBT community is when the city accepted hundreds of refugees, each person was given a goodie bag, inside included a pride wristband (which gets each person into the festival events), but also informational packets about the city’s LGBTQ community.
- The closing parade will have an expected 50,000 people watch the floats head down “Avenyn,” ending with a spectacular show at Götaplatsen, the biggest square in Gothenburg.
- The Human rights Conference begins August 17 and will see international experts on topics ranging from sex trafficking to ways to better serve the community in volatile countries.
- The EuroPride Park will be hosted at Kungstorget, one of the largest squares in the city-center. The EuroPride Park in Gothenburg has no entrance fee and is open to everyone. Visitors can engage with community exhibitors, mingle, enjoy good food and drinks, and listen to great music from the big stage. The park will also host a youth area with open activities.
- The Nightlife: The Lesbian Takeover – at Clarion Post Bon Bon Bar will see female DJs including internationally famous DJ Gun Lundemo; Greta’s Sweden’s oldest and largest gay club that has been around over 20 years; Drag artist Gretchen arranges her own party every Saturday at Le Pain Francais.
- After the festivities, the natural beauty of western Sweden will restore your body, mind, and soul. Book a RIB boat with 57Nord that will take you out to the archipelago. Here, Swedes escape the city heat by swimming in the waters and stopping for a traditional lunch ensconced in wild flowers and shady trees.
FLY TO SWEDEN WITH EUROPRIDES OFFICIAL AIRLINE — SAS
Connecting the U.S. with Sweden, Denmark, and Norway for more than 70 years, SAS carries more than 29 million passengers annually with approximately 800 daily flights to 117 destinations in 36 countries across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. The airline has seven gateways to Scandinavia in the US market (LAX, SFO, ORD, MIA, IAD, BOS, EWR).