La Semana del Orgullo en Madrid
Madrid is one of the world’s great gay friendly cities where the gay barrio of Chueca explodes into life at the end of June or start of July when residents and visitors come together to celebrate LGTB (lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual) Pride Week. Events include open air concerts, performing arts and a whole range of other activities which reach their climax with a huge Carnaval like parade which makes its way from Atocha, along Paseo del Prado to Puerta de Alcalá. What was little more than a minor get together when it began in the 1980’s has expanded beyond all recognition into an event that attracts in the region of two million participants making it by far the biggest gay event in Spain. For more information about this year’s event please take a look at the Madrid Pride Website.
If you’re visiting the Spanish capital for the gay pride week you should head for the Chueca district which is most popular with the gay community. The Hotel Lusso Infantas Madrid is a popular choice amongst visitors along with the budget Hostal Colors. Needless to say Madrid has more than its fair share of gay bars. One of the most famous is Black and White whilst Eagle Bar is a little more hardcore. One of the more popular gay clubs in Madrid is Escape where a friendly clientele welcomes everyone. Escape is topped only by Ricks, one of the most popular gay bars in the whole of Madrid. This one is open until 5am so you can literally dance and drink until you drop. This club welcomes the men and women alike but it isn’t for those travelling on a strict budget as drinks are fairly pricey. The city also has a number of established gay friendly restaurants such as El Armario and Lateral which are two of the hottest gay spots to eat. El Armario appropriately translates into The Closet, but those who frequent this spot rarely are! For authentic Spanish food and an open atmosphere both of these stylish Spanish eateries come highly recommended.
At the same time as the Madrid Pride celebrations, Barcelona holds a huge gay pride march through the city beginning at Plaça de la Universitat . It takes place on the nearest Saturday to June 28th. Being one of the most liberal cities in Europe, Barcelona has a vibrant gay scene with many gay-centric and gay-friendly bars, hotels and restaurants most notably in the L’Eixample area of the city which is commonly referred to as ‘Gaixample’.
The most popular gay hotel in Barcelona is probably the beautiful Hotel Axel on Carrer d’Aribau which is housed in a restored 16th century building with each room individually designed. Asides from a spa and a gym, it has its very own Turkish bath. If you’d prefer something a little more exclusive then you should check out Beauty and the Beach Bed and Breakfast which is a men only establishment a short train ride from the city. It has spacious rooms and pretty terraces with spectacular views. For something more accessible on the budget scale it’s worth checking out Barcelona’s hostales such as Friends Barcelona which is a fabulous place with nice terraces and great views. Other recommended places include Hostal Agua Alegre, Central Town, and Barcelona City Centre Hostal.
The Gaixample area is a fabulous place to dine in a wide choice of gay friendly restaurants such as Tafina and Sazzerak which offer live jazz music during your meal. Eterna and Iurantia are also highly regarded. If you visit the Born district of an evening be sure to take a look at Nao Colón and Little Italy which are both popular choices with the gay crowd. After dinner there’s no end of bars and clubs to check out such as Cafe Dietrich which has live drag shows and acrobats, Punto BCN which is a long-term favourite plus Zeltas which is one of Gaixample’s must-see bars. Aside from the highly popular Arena VIP other gay discos in Barcelona include Salvation, Madame, Metro Disco and the other Arena discos Arena Dandy and Arena Classic. Some of these discos are open only on certain days of the week although others are open every night. Space Ibiza, which recreates the Ibiza experience, is open every night in the summer season.