27.07.2019 – the 41th Christopher Street Day Parade in Berlin.
Gay Pride in Berlin was a must on my Europe pride tour. It happened to be the fourth pride parade for me this year and still it was very special. The official name of gay pride in Berlin is CSD Berlin and always takes place the last weekend of July. Around one million people celebrated Stonewall´s 50th Anniversary in Berlin this year. Pride week started on the 20th with heaps of attractions such as the pride boat tour on the river (Spree) and lasted for one week. Berlin in rainbow colours – even the TV tower shone in LGBT colours and ended with the gay pride parade, in Germany known as CSD.
There is not really a dress code for pride in Berlin. You are allowed and welcome to wear whatever you like to. If you feel like walking naked – please go for it. You might struggle if you want to stand out in Berlin with your outfit – because the city is full of crazy people with crazy outfits. I really enjoyed the look of three gay friends painted in rainbow colours all over. And if you feel most comfortable in jeans and shirt that is totally fine as well. Come as you want and enjoy. I always take my flag with me and pimp up with some glitter as well.
The Dyke march is a lesbian visibility and protest march and takes place in several cities in Europe, in Canada and the US. It usually takes places the day before the pride, mostly on a Friday. The first Dyke march ever started 1993 in Washington D.C. and the first one in Berlin took place seven years ago in 2013.
The route of Dyke march in Berlin led from Friedrichshain in East Berlin along the former wall and famous East Side Gallery to the Kottbusser Tor in West Berlin. It was supposed to be a quite march without music, but for sure there was a few cars with speakers making a great sound. Quite is not really Berlin style. Sun was shining and the vibe was great. The perfect start for the upcoming pride parade. Once the march reached their final goal – Kottbusser Tor – the musicians climbed on stage and the party kept going till very late. These march was less crowded then pride parade. Around 10.000 attendees. I absolutely enjoyed the vibe and the great atmosphere. We passed East side gallery at sunset and everything was in a beautiful readish light and reached Schillingbridge when sun already set. The view over the water was so stunning with the TV tower in the between – like a postcard.
Gay lesbian street festival – Motzfest
The gay lesbian street festival is known as Motzfest among the locals. It takes place around Motzstraße and Nollendorfplatz in district Schöneberg and is an unique street party that takes place every year the weekend before pride. It is a must-do for most gay and lesbian locals and heaps of fun. Even though gay people are welcome pretty much everywhere in Berlin, Schöneberg is still the main gay district of Berlin and Motzstraße is the place to go as it houses great shops and bars.
Since the wall has fallen in 1989, fences are not really popular in Berlin anymore. There are barely any barriers at the gay pride parade and you can walk and dance between the trucks as you wish – unless it is too crowded. At some places such as the Breitscheidplatz and the Kurfürstendamm are a few metres of fenced area. I do not recommend standing here and watch the parade passing by but to be part of it and march for your rights through the streets.
On the truck
Getting on a truck is usually quite tricky. In Berlin, you can buy tickets for some of the trucks or you might be lucky and work for the right company – if they have their own truck on the parade you increase your chances getting on it. Tickets were sold for three trucks: Polygon Truck, B:EAST/Revolver Truck and Easter Berlin Fetisch Truck. To get one of them, you need to be fast but might be lucky as well if you arrive early enough and ask them friendly. Or maybe you know someone to help you getting on one of the several trucks. This year, 98 trucks drove through the city, all of them with a great sound system and colourfully decorated. The greatest advantage of being on a truck – they have toilets!
Drinking in public
Drinking alcohol in the streets is allowed and no one will fine you anywhere in Germany and the Germans love to drink beer. You will find beer sellers throughout the parade at every corner. Be aware – some of them charge enormous prices for a bottle of beer.
Start and Route of pride parade
The parade started like every year on Saturday at 12pm at Kurfürstendamm with a great opening ceremony and the people marched through the city for around 6,5km to Brandenburg Gate. One truck after the other, marching on the street, happy feeling. The demonstration went along the Augsburger Platz to Nollendorfplatz, headed to the Victory Column. In total 98 trucks were attending the parade this year. Somehow, many tourists and travellers are waiting at the beginning of pride parade – Ku´damm (West Berlin) but the vibe gets better as longer as you follow the crowd. Do not do the mistake and watch the parade passing by – keep walking! It always gets crowded at Nollendorfplatz (East Berlin). For some reason, many of the locals meet here around 2pm to catch up with friends and join the parade together. But at some point, friends lose each other in the crowd and make new acquaintances or find each other again at the Victory Column where the Tiergarten park invites for a break.
You can also see it this way: pride parade is a great sightseeing walk through Berlin, you will pass several famous historical buildings and landmarks.
I love it every year when I reach the Victory Column and Tiergarten park during pride. It does not feel so narrow anymore and you get more space to dance behind the trucks or chill for a bit.
The parade ends officially at 4pm at Brandenburger Gate but lasts usually for at least one or two hours longer. Even thought the parade stops at Brandenburger Gate the party does not. The trucks might stop but the music keeps playing. Everyone is getting food and preparing for the next dance. Next to the Brandenburger gate is always a huge stage with live music (MIA., Melanie C. & Sink The Pink, Felix Jaehn, Sookee, Malonda) and a great light show. It gets super crowded in the evening around the stage – a bit too crowed in my opinion.
Pre and after party
Berlin it the city of parties and for sure, there are several after parties at Christopher Street Day. Check out where you want to go and get a ticket on pre sale if possible as they get sold out easily and there is usually a long queue as well. The official after parties of Pride Parade this years were the CSD opening party the night before the parade in KitKatClub and the CSD main party- unity in Ritterbutze, a popular electro club in Berlin. On top of that, there was an official lesbian party as well in Musik und Frieden. But for sure, pretty much every club of Berlin were open that day and you had heaps of options where to go. Me and my friends actually headed home as we started already at 12am in the morning to put on all the glitter in our faces and were quite tired at some point.
Berlin gay pride and the rain
Somehow it always rains at pride in Berlin. But nope, not this year. It was actually pretty hot all day long. Anyways, it is going to rain next year again as usual – I am sure about that. The rain is part of CSD Berlin and I missed dancing in the rain. But as a substitute, we found sprinklers between Victory Column and Brandenburger Gate, which we used straight away to finally “dance in the rain”.
Pride Parade in Berlin 2020
The next pride in Berlin is going to take place on Saturday, the 25.07.2020. If you want to be part of it but do not live in Berlin, I recommend to organise the accommodation as soon as possible as hostels get fully booked early. And do not forget to get your ticket for the pre- or after-party right in time as well. And one more inside tip: try to get in touch with a local to celebrate with. I had the chance to celebrate pride in Amsterdam with a local guy and his friends and Berlin is my home town anyways. On contrary, I did not get the chance to get in touch and party with a resident in London and feel like it missed out on something – I did not really “feel it”.
Love has no color, no gender and no sexual orientation.