In the two decades following the reunification of Germany, the culturally rich city of Berlin has emerged as one of the true world capitals of gay travel, a destination that rivals any in Europe in terms of acceptance of gays and lesbians, eclectic and sexually charged nightlife, and queer-themed fine and performing arts. As the modern gay rights movement began in Berlin at the end of the 19th century, and the city's gay scene flourished during the 1920s until the tragic rise of the Nazi party, it's only fitting that Berlin should enjoy such acclaim today as a wonderful place for gays and lesbians to live and visit.
It's fitting that Berlin hosts a spectacular Gay Pride celebration that's attended by hundreds of thousands of revelers and supporters. The Berlin Gay Pride Parade, aka Christopher Street Day, takes place in June (June 22, 2013), close to the same time as the Stonewall/Gay Pride celebrations held in New York City, San Francisco, Paris, and countless other large cities around the world. Berlin also hosts Folsom Europe, the continent's largest fetish festival, each year in September (the dates are September 14 and 15, 2013). Christopher Street Day precedes the Berlin Pride Festival, which occurs this year from June 22 through June 23, 2013 and includes the Berlin Pride Parade.
Additionally, during the weekend before the Gay Pride Parade, Berlin hosts the annual Lesbisch-Schwules Stadtfest (Lesbian and Gay City Festival) - it's billed as Europe's largest such event. In 2013, the dates of this rollicking party are June 15 and 16.
The annual Berlin Lesbian and Gay City Festival is held in Schoneberg's vibrant hub of GLBT life, Nollendorfplatz - the street leading southwest of the square/metro station, Motzstrasse, is lined with many of the city's most famous gay bars and businesses, as are nearby streets like Kalckreuthstrasse, Fuggerstrasse, and Martin-Luther-Strasse. During the festival, which takes place each day from 11 am into the late-night hours, participants can watch dozens of musical performances, lectures, art installations, and exhibits on all facets of GLBT life. There's dancing at local clubs, women's programs, and market stalls and booths selling food and representing business and community organizations. More than 450,000 are expected to attend this year.
The final weekend of Pride, on Saturday the Berlin Gay Pride Parade, commencing in Kurfürstendamm at the corner of Joachimstaler Str., winding its way past Nollendorfplatz, and eventually ending up at Brandenburg Gate after passing through the city's beautiful park, Tiergarten. The parade lasts until 4.30 pm, after which there's a Pride Rally in the shadows of Brandenburg Gate.
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Many of the city's gay-popular 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 Berlin 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 Gay Travel site produced by Visit Berlin (the official Berlin Tourist Office), and the German Office of Tourism's site on GLBT travel in Berlin.