10 travel-worthy festivals to look forward to in 2020

(Photo: ChillOut Festival, Australia)

Most of us have heard about the world’s biggest Pride festivals, like Sydney Mardi Gras or São Paulo Pride. However, many countries offer smaller or more unique LGBTQ gatherings that are worth visiting. Check out just a short selection below.

Pink Lake, Austria

This is a unique gathering at Austria’s Wörthersee Lake – a scenic mountain town and holiday spot. The four-day event runs August 27-30, 2020 at a lakeside holiday resort and it attracts several hundred attendees. You can expect boat parties, spa and sauna sessions, lots of opportunities to swim in the lake, and plenty of men in lederhosen and women in dirndls!

More details: pinklake.at 


European Gay Ski Week, France

This year’s European Gay Ski Week takes place from 21-28 March 2020. This year’s event will be taking over the resorts of Arc 2000 and Arc 1950 in the French Alps. The event has consistently grown year-upon-year, and it now attracts up to 1,500 for its skiing, snowboarding and apres-ski events, which includes plenty of drag cabaret and late-night clubbing. 

More details: https://www.europeangayskiweek.com/ 

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Broken Heel Festival, Australia

If the movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert had a big impact on you, then Australia’s Broken Heel Festival might be for you. Each year this celebration of drag takes place in former mining town, Broken Hill, on the western edge of New South Wales.

The 2020 event is set for September 10-14. There will be three stages of entertainment plus a parade through the town’s main square. 

More details: bhfestival.com


Whole Festival, Germany

Whole – United Queer Festival is a three-day, electronic music and camping festival on a stunning, abandoned mining lake in Germany. It will run from June 12-15, 2020, at Ferropolis (known as the ‘City of Iron’), which is basically an open-air museum full of giant pieces of old mining machinery.

This is very much a queer rave aimed at everyone on the LGBTQ spectrum. Performers and DJs for this year’s event have yet to be confirmed, but this is emerging as one of Europe’s coolest and most-welcoming queer festivals. 

More details: wholefestival.com

Tallinn Bearty, Estonia

Tallinn Bearty has been running for around half a dozen years. The event runs in April and attracts local bears and those from further afield to the capital of Estonia. The 2020 event runs April 16-19.

It’s not just about partying. The organizers of this “festival of bearculture” want to offer food for thought as well as hedonism, so there are cultural events and art shows, talks, and discussion groups. Tallin Bearty’s mission is to advance “equal rights for everyone” and promote “visual arts, music and cinematography made by bears everywhere.”

More details: bearty.info/

Tallinn Bearty in Estonia (Photo: Supplied)
Tallinn Bearty in Estonia (Photo: Supplied)

Milkshake Festival, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam’s Milkshake Festival is a queer-flavored, two-day dance and music event. The 2020 festival runs July 25-26 in Westerpark, with over a dozen stages of entertainment and hundreds of performers and DJs. Tickets always sell out quickly, so if you want to go, pre-register ahead of the tickets going on sale (usually mid-February).

More details: milkshakefestival.com

Milkshake Festival (Photo: Dennis Bouman)

Happy Valley Pride, Hebden Bridge, England

Happy Valley Pride is a seven-day festival celebrating queer life in the picturesque Yorkshire Pennines market town of Hebden Bridge and beyond. Why Hebden Bridge? For reasons no-one is entirely sure about, Hebden Bridge has become England’s most rural, lesbian hotspot, with many women attracted to its scenic countryside, wild moors, independently-run businesses and gentler pace of life.

If you’re seeking an all-night rave with a bunch of circuit queens, this is probably not for you. If visiting Victorian chapels, hiking, afternoon tea and literary discussions with like-minded souls sound more up your street, this could be the festival you’re seeking.

Dates for 2020 have yet to be finalized, but more details at: happyvalleypride.co.uk


ChillOut Festival, Daylesford, Australia

ChillOut is Australia’s longest-running and biggest rural LGBT pride festival, held every March in Daylesford, Victoria, the “mineral spa capital of Australia.”

It takes place March 5-9, 2020, with this year’s theme being “Through the Looking Glass – Alice in Spa Wonderland!” Besides a parade and parties, there will also be wellbeing activities such as a tennis competition and bushwalk, plus theatre shows and other arts events. Organizers are also hoping the 2020 event will create the biggest human rainbow. 

More details: chilloutfestival.com.au

Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival, Knysna, South Africa

The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival is an annual event in Knysna, South Africa. It’s been running for the past couple of decades, but the 2019 event was sadly cancelled at short notice, with organizers saying they wanted time to prepare a bigger event for 2020.

This year’s event is due to take place April 30 to May 3. You can expect long weekend celebration of local LGBTQ culture and identity, with sports events, bears fest, art exhibitions, drag and other activities. The annual Mr Gay World pageant will take place in Knysna at the same time.

More details: pinkloerie.co.za


Penis Festival, Kawasaki, Japan

Not strictly a queer festival, but this unique gathering has – unsurprisingly – earned itself a big following with many gay men. Kanamara Matsuri, or the Festival of the Steel Phallus, to give it its full name, takes place every year and attracts thousands of visitors. Phallic-shaped shrines are carried through the streets, and penis-carved vegetables and other gifts are sold at stalls. In recent years, the festival has raised awareness around sexual health and raised money for HIV-related causes.

It takes place on the first Sunday in April in Kawasaki, Japan, with the main activities this year on April, 5.

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