Antwerp Gay Pride is a major cultural event intended to showcase the city's tremendous diversity and tolerance. Antwerp actually staged Belgium's first GLBT Pride Parade in 1979 but was without such an event before the celebration was redeveloped a few years ago.
Antwerp Gay Pride changes times this year, moving to August after having taken place in June in recent years. The move will make it possible for Pride in 2013 to coincide with World OutGames 2013, which takes place at this time in Antwerp. The dates of Antwerp Pride this year are August 6 to August 12. Organizers have made no secret of wanting to present a Gay Pride event that's less commercial than some currently held around Europe, although this action-packed event also has the support of the local retail and hospitality industries, who will definitely have a presence at the event. But organizers also see Antwerp Pride as a way to raise awareness of Gay Rights around the world, and to increase the visibility of Antwerp's highly visible (and enthusiastically accepted) GLBT community, which is quite sizable here. Since Belgium legalized gay marriage in 2003, and hundreds of same-sex couples have since tied the knot.
Highlights of the week-long Antwerp Pride festival include a Pride Opening Reception on Thursday, a Rox opening night party, a World OutGames Meet and Greet on Friday, a "Let's Have a Gay Old Time" queer city tour, several gatherings related to various festishes (jockstraps, chaps, naked, boots, etc.), a singalong to the musical movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and myriad parties and mixers at clubs and venues throughout the city. Here's a full schedule of activities and events.
Activities really kick into high gear on Saturday, August 11, a 2 pm Pride Parade, which is followed at 3 pm by the Wave Festival, held at Kattendijkdok-Oostkaai. That evening, it's time for Shine - the Official Pride Party, held from 10 pm until 6 am at Club La Riva.
Sunday is Antwerp Pride's final day, and it includes the massive Rainbow Village (from 11 am on) and Pride Closing Party. It's held at Grote Markt, from 3 pm until 6 pm and features a number of bands and performers.
Many of the city's gay-popular bars, restaurants, hotels, and shops have special events and parties throughout Pride Week. Check local gay papers, which are distributed at popular gay bars. And check out the Antwerp Gay Travel Guide by Patroc.com, which is very handy and has extensive information on the local gay scene. Additional excellent trip-planning resources are the travel site produced by Tourism Flanders, and the Gay Travel site operated by the Belgian Tourist Office.