Amsterdam Pride: A Wave of Excitement
By Parker Piccolo-Hill
Sixty-five miles of waterways make up Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands and one of the most progressive cities in the world. Every June, these canals are taken over by Pride.
Amsterdam has had a gay pride parade every year since 1996. Instead of originating as a protest, this parade is a celebration of queer identity. Every year, more than 500,000 people flood the city for one of the biggest Pride parades in the world, and the only one that is entirely water-based.
When I visited Amsterdam in 2019, I found that the water is not only the stage for the event, but it is the basis for how the city reacts. Just like a droplet hitting the water, excitement ripples outwards from the canals to the whole city.
The parade occurs entirely on floats that travel the whole of the city, from the Scheepvaartmuseum to Prinsengracht to Westerdok. To get the most excitement, we headed straight to the main canal. The closer you get to the canals, the more you can literally feel the energy in the air. Everyone turned out to celebrate. From the banners on the buildings to the painted sidewalks to the colorful, wacky outfits, there was no end to the sights and sounds to take in, and the floats! A float with a famous band may be followed by two guys on water-powered flyboards, who are followed by drag performers, who are followed by a gay rights activist. The diversity had no end and it was amazing to watch everyone come together to celebrate.
Outside the floats, in the first ripple of excitement, people line the canals on their own boats — forming a quasi-floor on the edge of the canals — or on the bridges and sidewalks above; it is a massive party. Music is blasting; people are shouting and laughing in every language under the sun; and the weather is beautiful.
Past the people directly on the canals, we push further into the city, rippling ever onwards. Amsterdam has a thriving bar and club scene, and for Pride it is as big as it will ever be. All the restaurants have Pride-themed dishes and decor (I recall a pizza with a rainbow of toppings). The bars have people spilling out the doors and mini rainbow umbrellas in all the tropical drinks. Music pumps rhythmically from the clubs. The party does not stop!
Amsterdam is a great place to visit even without the Pride parade going on, but if you have the chance to visit during the month of June, take it! The endless festivities and happiness from all the attendees are a reminder that even in a world where headlines are always doom and gloom, there is still so much to celebrate.
About the Author: Parker Piccolo Hill is a freshman from Westchester, New York, currently undecided on her major. One of her favorite travel destinations is Barcelona, Spain, because of the laid-back but exciting atmosphere and the vibrant dining scene.