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Madrid's Already Massive Pride Parade Goes Global for WorldPride

by Dan Allen /
A man displays a welcoming banner in Madrid's Chueca district on June 23, 2017 during the WorldPride 2017.PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP - Getty Images

Already home to one of the planet's largest annual LGBTQ gatherings, the Spanish capital kicks thing up several notches this year as its Pride (or Orgullo, en español) turns 40 in 2017. To celebrate, Madrid is hosting both the continent-wide EuroPride and the global WorldPride — the first time any city has ever hosted both events at the same time. The festivities officially open Friday night and run through July 3.

A man displays a welcoming banner in Madrid's Chueca district on June 23, 2017 during the WorldPride 2017.PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP - Getty Images

"It's been such a joy to work with WorldPride Madrid 2017 team, their commitment to human rights and inclusion and solidarity is overwhelming," said Kristine Garina, president of the European Pride Organizers Association. "They already have a million-people event — they could have gotten away with just putting up a giant party, and everyone would've been happy. But they truly are involved in the human rights aspect of the Pride, and that is absolutely amazing to watch."

Under the motto Viva la Vida, Madrid WorldPride is expected to welcome some 2 million visitors to town during its 11-day run. The city's famously gay Chueca neighborhood will serve as WorldPride's de facto hub, hosting myriad events, performances and parties, but the entire city will get in on the festivities. Madrid officials have already installed a number of same-sex couple and gender neutral traffic lights across the city, which will remain in place even after WorldPride is over.

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, people cross the street near a "gender equal" pedestrian traffic light signal in Madrid, Spain.Paul White / AP

The Parade

Madrid's annual Pride parade is already the second biggest of its kind on Earth (just behind Sao Paulo's), so this year's WorldPride parade on Saturday, July 1, is expected to be one of the largest LGBTQ marches ever assembled anywhere.

"In Madrid, the parade is a demonstration that joins proof of our numbers and sheer celebration," said Carlos Sánchez García-Plaza, WorldPride's communications director. "We expect around 2 million people, who will shout very loudly that our rights are something we won't renounce. All of us will try to be the voices of those that need to be silent in their own countries."

The WorldPride parade will kick off at Madrid's Atocha Station at 5pm, and the enormous crowd will accompany 40 double-decker floats up pretty Paseo del Prado to Plaza de Colón.

A picture taken on June 22, 2017 shows rainbow flags in Madrid's Chueca district, on the eve of the start of the WorldPride 2017.Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP - Getty Images

Art & Culture

As usual, Madrid Pride's cultural program Muestra T will bring scores of art exhibitions, readings and theatrical and cabaret performances to the city, while De Chica en Chica (Girl to Girl) will present a female-focused cultural slate. And this year for WorldPride, some of Madrid's best known and most beloved mainstream cultural institutions are getting in on the act too.

The superb Prado Museum is presenting the groundbreaking show The Other’s Gaze: Spaces of Difference, which takes a new look at 30 works in its own permanent collection through an LGBTQ-focused lens. Pieces include David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio, and the ancient Greek sculpture Orestes and Pylades by the School of Praxiteles. The exhibition runs through September 10.

Image: Spain's Prado shows works depicting sexual diversity for WorldPride
The sculpture "Orestes and Pylades" is seen during "The Other's Gaze: Spaces of Difference" exhibition at Madrid's Prado Museum on June 22, 2017.Juan Medina / Reuters

Across the street, the more compact but excellent Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is also getting in on the WorldPride act. Its show Inclusive Love is a self-guided audio tour that looks at 15 of the museum's own LGBTQ-themed works, from Bronzino to David Hockney.

A number of globally famous singers will perform during WorldPride too, including The Weather Girls, Conchita Wurst and Loreen (the last two, both Eurovision Song Contest winners, as part of the EuroPride arm of this year's event).

Human Rights Conference

A crucial component of Madrid WorldPride will be its LGBTQ human rights conference, Madrid Summit, which is expected to be the biggest of its kind ever assembled. Running from June 26-28 at the University Autónoma of Madrid, the conference's key topics will include LGBTQ education, health, workplace, culture and politics.

"If I may say, Madrid Summit is something that I hope will mark a key difference from other regular Madrid Prides," García-Plaza said. "More than 140 speakers from five continents — LGBT activists, politicians, writers, etc. — will be in Madrid to analyze the situation of LGBT rights around the world. They will also discuss different ways to fight for real equality, especially in those countries where being LGBT is illegal, or can mean the death penalty."

A man displays a rainbow flag in Madrid's Chueca district on June 23, 2017 during the WorldPride 2017.Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP - Getty Images


Numerous sporting events will be held during WorldPride, including Madrid Pride's 9th Pride Games (June 23 to 25), and the world's first Diversity Race ( June 25), with both 5K and 10K versions.

One-Off Events

Not to be missed for its sheer camp value is a very different kind of race, Madrid Pride's annual High Heel Race down Chueca's Calle Pelayo. Racers can wear whatever they like, as long as it includes heels of six inches or more. The crowd-pleasing contest celebrates its 10th birthday this year, and takes place on June 29.

The next day brings another of Madrid Pride's most popular yearly events, the man-candy-heavy Mr. Gay Pride Spain competition at Puerta del Sol.

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, people walk past a restaurant with a rainbow flag in the Chueca district, a popular area for the gay community in Madrid, Spain.Paul White / AP


For many, the main focus of Pride is partying, and Madrid WorldPride's calendar is more than ready to assist. Apart from the scads of special WorldPride parties happening at literally every gay bar around the city next week, WorldPride's officially sanctioned party partner, WE, will present a whopping 11 parties across nine days at some of Madrid's best venues, including Fabrik, Enrique Tierno Galván Park and Ciudad del Rock, as it partners with some of the world's top circuit parties, including Palm Springs' White Party and London's Beyond Club.

WorldPride Park

For the first time, Madrid Pride will include a special Pride Village along the Manzanares River at Puente del Rey. Open freely to all and dubbed WorldPride Park, it's designed as a space for LGBTQ associations and organizations from around the world to share information with the public and each other. Included will be an expo, a cultural stage, a market area, food trucks, a book fair and a complete program for kids and families.

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