Berlin is definitely this decade’s gay capital of Europe, taking over from Amsterdam a decade ago and despite the “heavy-weight” leather scene of Cologne, the biggest in Germany. It is only natural that the city also hosts the Best Gay Festivals!
Diversity, freedom, tolerance and a certain “nonchalance” of Berliners, who don’t seem to really care about how you dress or act in public, are the key to understanding why the German capital is “the place to be”, if you recognize yourself as a LGBTQ person. Add to that the infinite nightlife options that give Berlin the reputation of being one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. So we could not resist but give you a line up of the Best Gay Festivals in town!
Throughout the year, Berlin offers internationally renowned and extremely fun gay festivals. The calendar starts early on during the wintertime, with the Teddy Award, a prize given to the best LGBTQ themed movie exhibited throughout the Berlinale International Film Festival. And of course, a party is always scheduled to celebrate the winner!
On the extended Easter weekend (the Ostermontag, or Easter Monday, is also a bank holiday in Germany), the BLF – Berlin Leather Fetish Week magnetizes gays from all over the world, fascinated by the variety of parties and events dedicated to all the fetishes one can imagine. To attend all the events scheduled (or a couple of them), be sure to wear your favorite gear and bring along your hologram!
The most (in)famous party is the classic Snax. It takes place at Berghain and Lab.Oratory. The venues are turned into a big “pervy party”. Most of all, it’s an unforgettable anthropological experience. Spiced with one of the best lineups of the year!
During summer, July is no doubt the “hottest” month. The sequence of festivals starts on the last weekend of June, with the alternative Gay Pride, the XCSD. The parade takes over the streets of Kreuzberg, traditionally between Hermannplatz and Heinrichplatz. Very alternative. Totally Kreuzberg. Super fun.
On the weekend before Christopher Street Day – Berlin’s official Gay Pride Parade/Party – the area around Nollendorfplatz (the classic gay circuit of Berlin) is taken by the Lebisch und Schwulles Stadtfest, also called Motzfest. It’s more a fair than a parade, with food stands, handicraft souvenirs, NGO’s and political parties, from the center-right wing to the greens (Berlin is a plural city, remember?). This festival serves as a warm-up for the biggest festival of the year, the CSD Gay Pride.
The Berliner Christopher Street Day (locally referred to as CSD) is the mainstream annual Gay Pride. Thousands of people start the parade on Kurfürstendamm, passing by Nollendorfplatz and the monumental Strasse der 17. Juni, finishing at Brandenburg Gate.
Closing the month, Yo!Sissy is an international queer music festival, presenting local performers and other talents from all over the world. Peaches, Mykki Blanco and Crystal Waters were some of the artists featured in past editions.
More leather and fetish take place in September with Folsom Europe. The street festival occupies Fuggerstrasse and Welserstrasse, not far from Nollendorfplatz, in Schöneberg. The Festival is hosted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who plead for some contribution at the main entrance. The area is filled with food and drink stands as well as all kinds of fetish gear stalls, including BDSM spanking corners and the “puppies” playground.
Finally, towards the end of the year, Hustlaball and FC Snax United can’t really be considered as festivals. They are more like big parties. The first one, a porn party, takes place at KitKatClub and the second one, dedicated to sneakers and sportswear enthusiasts, is the “athletic” version of the Easter Snax party at Berghain/Lab.Oratory.
Well…as you can see, there is absolutely no shortage of best Gay festivals to enjoy throughout the year in Berlin. If you are not in the city during a festival, but still want to have a good time, check our Gay Berlin website section or go straight to the “Best Cruising Spots” in town.
*Article by Domingos Lepores. Edited by Tulio Edreira.