© Dan Allen

This is what a city celebrating Pride has to look like. Rainbow flags wherever you look, events, cultural highlights and political activism – there was something for everyone at the traditional Canal Pride in Amsterdam in 2018. With 70 boats registered officially for the parade on the canals and hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the banks, the whole city looked like one enormous party zone in ideal weather.

© A. Müller

As usual Pride in Amsterdam does not only consist of the canal parade, but there is also a lot of programme around it. Everything is officially supported and promoted. This year not only a rainbow flag but also a transgender Pride flag was raised at the residence of Mayor Femke Halsema.

The theme of this year’s Amsterdam Pride was “Heroes” – anyone can be a hero of the LGBTIQ* community, through action or attitude, by showing strength and astanding for human rights in public. And so the waterways and streets of the city were teeming with Bowies and other musical “heroes”, as well as superheroes of all colours.

The highlight of Pride celebrations in Amsterdam every year is the unique Canal Pride Parade, where elaborately decorated boats (many companies spend a lot of money on this) drive through Prinsengracht and make everyone feel good. Some of the boats have very elaborate and high superstructures, which all have to be made movable so that the boats can still pass under some very low bridges along the route.

Partnership with World Pride 2019 in New York

Although the participation fees for companies can be quite steep (up to 50,000 Euros), large Amsterdam-based companies such as Google, Uber, Netflix & Co. are not stopping there but sponsoring the event additionally. The parade is cheered from the banks canals by hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom come from afar just to join the festivities. The whole country is celebrating.

Summer 2018 was also very hot in Amsterdam and so many people were looking for a quick nip in the water of the canals. (It is cleaner than ever before in the history of the city thanks to the commitment of organisations like Plastic Whale). The last float in the parade was the boat promoting World Pride 2019, which will take place in New York (formerly New Amsterdam) for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. World Pride 2019 therefore formed a close partnership with Amsterdam Pride this year to promote the event next year.

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