yuletide with pride

Homo for the holidays: 5 getaways for chosen family

Three gay friends in Barcelona for a holiday getaway

Newsflash: you’re not a closeted juvenile trapped at home this December, so why does your celebratory spirit reek of the Grinch? A queercentric holiday getaway is exactly what should stuff your stocking.

We get it — the holidays once made you cringe at the thought of tolerating a particular queerphobic or annoying family member (or the entire lot, for that matter). Most of us can appreciate the allure of bolting from relatives for end-of-year gatherings. And now the world is your rainbow oyster.

After all, there’s literally no more festive and joyous time to tour a new destination. GayCities uncovers five metropolises where you can merge holiday wholesomeness with cheeky fun.

Las Vegas, United States

Las Vegas holiday getaway
Las Vegas. Photo: Shutterstock

If unconventional is the goal, why not escape to a city where millions have sought an escape from tradition? But we promise you don’t have to get hitched. Las Vegas is the mother of nightlife, and you’ll get bonus points if you make the naughty list. Rather than spending a fortune on gifts, hit the casinos, baby, and make it back tenfold. (Or do gay math and consider any losses breaking even because you skipped the emotional expense of visiting relatives.)

From The Cosmopolitan‘s ice rink to trees decked in millions of lights and interactive entertainment like an enchanted carousel at Opportunity Village, there’s no shortage of holiday extravagance. Theater queens can go classic with The Nutcracker at the Smith Center and then Magic Mike Live, which gives new meaning to the Las Vegas Strip — think of it like a merrily queer spin on “Barbenheimer.”

Ancient wonder: Luxor Hotel & Casino is one of Las Vegas’s most uniquely designed destinations, where you can opt for a pyramid-shaped King suite featuring a soaking tub and sitting room. You’ll likely have such a great time that you’ll want to plan ahead and reserve accommodations for the long-running gay pool party, Temptation Sundays, which runs May through September.

Best bites: You should know by now that size isn’t everything, and Firefly Tapas Kitchen Bar serves small plates, done big — 54 luscious Spanish tapas on the menu, to be exact. Worrying about calories in Sin City is ridiculous, so let your taste buds run free with your gayness.

Gone fishin’: We dare you to find a nightclub in another city that’s open 24/7, enough said. Piranha Nightclub hosts Latin Tuesdays with $5 wells until midnight, “Wiggin’ Out” Wednesdays with $20 White Claw buckets, and “We Love the Weekend” drag nights if you need more convincing.

BONUS: Look up any concerts going on at the recently opened Sphere, and pick one. You’re going for the newly opened $2.3 billion venue, which puts on some of the best light shows and productions you’ll ever experience.


Las Vegas

Las Vegas: Entertainment Capital of the World

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

All that glitters 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S · Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 698-7000

Firefly* Tapas Kitchen & Bar

Colorful and hip tapas bistro 335 Hughes Center Dr · Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 369-3971

Luxor Hotel & Casino

Luxor-y in Egypt 3900 S Las Vegas Blvd · Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 262-4000

Piranha Nightclub

Popular dance club 4633 Paradise Rd · Las Vegas, NV 89169
(702) 791-0100

Mexico City, Mexico

A man stands on a helipad in Mexico City.
Mexico City. Photo: Shutterstock

Screw having a white Christmas; you’re a grown adult and should know that snow is fun for half a second. But don’t fret! You know what doesn’t go out of style? A rooftop tan, food, and dancing. Come December, Mexico City offers the trifecta, so lounge by the pool, dive into the culinary playground for your taste buds, and cruise through one of Latin America’s best nightlife scenes.

The center of gay action is Zona Rosa, but Polanco is the bougiest part of town. The holidays also transform the city into a fusion of candlelight processions, elaborate nativity scenes, Spanish Christmas carols, lots of piñatas and fireworks. Plus, there are always shamelessly gay parties.

Stay: The W brand operates over 50 hotels worldwide, but the W Mexico City, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023, delivers OG coolness, fuzing the artistry and hip vibes of the city. Once you step inside, its style reigns supreme.

Fresh catch: Mexico City is one of the most sought-after culinary destinations on the map, but you’ll be a fool to skip Contramar, a seafood paradise without any posh pretense. It’s all about flavor here, and you’ll want to make a reservation as soon as you buy your plane ticket. The place stays booked and busy.

Weekend pleasure: There are plenty of nightclubs in Mexico City, but Guilt Roma hits differently. If you’re looking to dance all night with your friends, here you’ll find your throne, go-go boys & drag queens with 9-inch strap-ons included as your court jesters. Be aware it’s only open Thursday through Saturday.


Mexico City

Up and coming queer megacity

W Mexico City

Stylish digs Campos Eliseos 252 · Mexico City, CDMX 11560
(559) 138-1800


A great catch 200 Calle de Durango · Ciudad de México, CDMX 06700
(555) 514-3169

Guilt Roma

Wild night out 92 Coahuila · Ciudad de México, CDMX 06760
(551) 828-2773

Barcelona, Spain

A man on the street during a holiday getaway to Barcelona
Barcelona. Photo: Shutterstock

As travel bucket lists go, Barcelona is a staple for straight and queer people alike for good reason. Prepare to dine at 9 p.m. and go out at midnight because a dolce far niente lifestyle doesn’t mean there’s ever a lack of action (you’ll have to socialize for the afterparty invites). Take advantage of the siesta hours for a nap (most retail businesses close between 2 p.m. – 4 or 5 p.m.). Although the weather isn’t ideal for Barcelona’s iconic clothing-optional beaches, the city will be vibrant with lights and an abundance of holiday markets with unique gifts for loved ones or yours truly.

Stay gay: It’s nice to discover boutique hotels, but other times you want what’s been tried and tested for gay indulgence. Axel Hotel Barcelona is the latter with a prime location at the gayborhood Eixample – and you won’t need to worry about finding gay parties. You can start at the hotel’s magnificent lounge terrace.

Seafood spectacular: Rias de Galicia channels the Catalan phrase for “raw space,” so order accordingly, babe. We suggest the squid, sashimi, and lobster tartare.

Go Local: A neighborhood spot with a diverse clientele, Night Barcelona is one of the best gay bars in the city for its friendly vibe and a “definite recommend” from GayCities readers.



Gay Barcelona: A Gay Mediterranean Paradise

Axel Hotel Barcelona

Iconic urban gay hotel Carrer d’Aribau · Barcelona, Spain 08011
(349) 332-3939

Rías de Galicia

Seafood favorite Carrer de Lerida, 7 · Barcelona, CT 08004
(934) 234-570

Night Barcelona

Boy Berry’s Bar Brother Carrer de la Diputació, 161 · Barcelona, CT 08011
(349) 350-3170

Milan, Italy

Three women eating pizza in Milan
Milan. Photo: Shutterstock

Head to Milan to discover a festive, boozy, fashion-forward metropolis. The holiday season means you’ll encounter fewer crowds than summer months and welcoming businesses enthusiastic for your holiday splurges. Christmas markets take over Duomo Square, but you’re already in the world’s shopping center. Now’s not the time for trinkets! Go liven up your closet in retail utopia. Then, welcome the afternoon at local hotspots with aperitifs and banter. Watch the sidewalks get filled with Italian culture and BYOB as the sun sets.

Beds with Bling: We love the underground Milano nightlife culture, but once the fun is over, we need the peace of absolute unhinged luxury. It’s what Santa would’ve wanted! Unwind at Bulgari Hotel Milano amid rich interiors and framed sketches of famed Bulgari jewels.

Grab a slice: Don’t listen to the lies: there’s bad hookups and pizza, so choose wisely! It’s a Hunger Games type of scenario for the former, but as per the latter, you’ll find one of the best at Little Italy Milano. (No, it’s not the chain!)

Who you know: Plastic is known as the Studio 54 of Europe, but tourists will struggle to get inside without a local connection. It’s exclusive, but trust us, worth the attempt. Otherwise, head on over to Q Club for plan B. (Both are only open on weekends)



Cosmopolitan Italy

Bulgari Hotel Milano

A luxury oasis in downtown Milan 3 Via Santa Radegonda · Milano, Lombardia 20121
(028) 852-285

Little Italy

There’s no bad pizza, but this might be the best 41 Via Alessandro Tadino · Milano, Lombardia 20124
(022) 952-2734


The Studio 54 of Europe, but good luck getting inside 15 Via Gargano · Milano, Lombardia 20139
(02 ) 733-996

Brussels, Belgium

Grote Markt, Brussels
Grote Markt, Brussels. Photo courtesy of Eric Danheir/Visit Brussels

As far as winter wonderlands go, you won’t top heading to Brussels during the Christmas Market season. The phenomenon can be found throughout Europe, but the Belgians do it best. The yearly event is called Winter Pleasures (Plaisirs d’Hiver in French), and it’s held throughout the city center.

You’ll be surrounded by cafes, bars, restaurants, and the water pool of Fontaine Anspach. Beyond the gastronomy and 200 traditional wooden chalets filled with local treasures, every block becomes a photo op. The Brussels by Lights festival sees 150 light installations take over the city’s architecture. Check the calendar for all the unique illuminations akin to the tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City. But it’s better because you’re in Europe, darling.

Level up: Location ultimately enhances or burdens your travel experience — especially during winter. Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo will situate you like royalty while treating you with five-star service.

Modern palate: Resto Henri may appear minimalist from the outside, but the modern Belgian/French menu elevates classics with a selection of sharable bites and show-stopping entrees.

What’s old is new: Don’t fix what’s not broken. Le Belgica has been a gay institution since the mid-80s and still going strong. Enjoy a local brew and discover the heart of gay Brussels — the gift that keeps on giving!



Brussels: Gay culture booms in Europe’s cosmopolitan capital

Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo

Five stars near the Grand Place Rue de l’Amigo · Brussels, Bruxelles 1000
(254) 747-47

Resto Henri

Superb Belgian/French modern Rue de Flandre 113 · Brussels, Bruxelles 1000
(221) 800-08

Le Belgica

Ground zero for gay Brussels Rue du Marche au Charbon 32 · Brussels, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk G 1000
(+32) 267-3738

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