If it’s true that the French have mastered the art of living well, then it is equally true that the Spanish have mastered the art of celebration. All across Spain, and particularly in her major cities, there is an intoxicating party atmosphere almost year-round that permeates the air. This is, after all, a country where it’s common to have dinner at 10 p.m. or even later and where only tragic tourists and the unfortunately ill-informed dare venture into clubs before midnight.
From Mallorca and Ibiza to Madrid and Barcelona, nightclubs and bars in España buzz well into the wee hours of the morning on a regular basis. The party then carries on to gay beaches if they happen to be nearby—a nifty little advantage that makes those early morning walks of shame back to su casa a little less obvious. With all that in mind, it stands to reason that when Pride comes to town, the general atmosphere of revelry in Spain’s hottest destinations gets a super-size jolt of sweaty, sexy party energy.
Spain’s capital city annually hosts what is undoubtedly the country’s most massive Pride event. Each year nearly a million partygoers descend upon Madrid’s signature gayborhood, Chueca, for what can only be described as a three-day Pride extravaganza.
Filled with float after float of the requisite, chiseled hunky guapos and assorted local and international drag legends, the Madrid Pride parade is hotness defined. And that says a lot given that the parade goes on for hours, which means staking out a space in the early afternoon heat and standing in the streets being jostled about a bit throughout. But then again, isn’t that the case for any legendary Pride parade?
Beyond the parade, Madrid’s Pride celebration is unique in the diversity of entertainment on showcase in squares throughout Chueca. In one square you hear American-style dance music. In another, you watch the hottest international DJs spinning to entranced crowds. And still in another you hear jazz or a favorite gay diva or Euro-pop band playing. It’s almost cliché to say, but there really is something for everyone and every taste at Madrid Pride.
In the days leading up to Madrid Pride it’s one big non-stop party at local favorite hotspots like the über-hot and always packed Why Not? bar, where the downstairs entrance lends the place the feeling of a speakeasy. The crowd is sexy and the music is always pumping out one crowd-pleasing favorite after another.
For accommodations, Roommate’s Hotel Oscar is located not only right at the nerve center of all the Pride action in Chueca but it is also in perfect stumbling distance of tons of nearby bars and parties. They even have a great restaurant and host their own private Pride events.
If you crave a little distance between yourself and the party, the ME by Melia is an excellent option located just about a ten-minute walk away from the heart and soul of the Pride festivities. It’s sleek, high-tech and their motto is “everything is possible.” The rooms even come equipped with a “sexy” mood lighting feature. And on Sunday nights, Spain’s boldest and most beautiful gather to sip mojitos and mingle the night away at the ME’s rooftop bar, which has staggering 360-degree views of Madrid.
Finally, for the ultimate in luxury, try the elegant AC Palacio del Retiro. Also within walking distance of the Pride festivities, the AC offers benefits like a complimentary minibar in each room, a 24-hour downstairs bar, oversized rooms and beds that make California King size mattresses look positively diminutive. Best of all, for the culturati among you, the AC is in walking distance to museums like the Prado and the Reina Sofia.
Nowhere in Spain does nightlife quite like Ibiza. In fact, you might even say that there’s always a Pride fete going on in this island paradise. Still, Ibiza has a Pride parade all its own.
It may be small, but it’s packed to the gills with the kind of glitz and spectacle that has helped turn Ibiza into Europe’s hottest clubbing destination. If you happen to already be in this part of the world or in nearby Formentera or Mallorca when Ibiza Pride takes place, it will certainly be a welcome addition to your itinerary.
To check out this year’s Spain Pride events, go to madoweb.com.
Barcelona Pride is a smaller event than Madrid’s all-out mega pride celebration, but it certainly has its share of charm. The event itself is relatively new. With so much happening in Madrid, one can only assume that the notion of competing must have been daunting, but Barcelona succeeds as one of Spain’s biggest party cities.
A relatively short but colorful parade ends in one big party that brings together Barcelona’s finest for a night of dancing and music. Pre and post-Pride, the gay scene moves to Barceloneta beach where a mix of clothed and unclothed hard bodies line the beach en masse.
Just as in Madrid, the ME by Melia is steps away from the Barceloneta beach and has stunning views of the city, though it is a bit far from gay nightlife.