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Berlin Gay Pride is a cocktail of party, politics and culture

Over half a million people are expected to flock to Germany's capital city for one of Europe's biggest gay pride festivals, Christopher Street Day
Christopher Street Day parade, 2011

While Sao Paulo may boast the biggest, Tel Aviv the hottest and New York the brashest, Berlin has the edge when it comes to mixing political activism with bawdy fun.

More than half a million are expected to pour into the German capital on 23 June for its annual pride parade and party, which they call Christopher Street Day (CSD) – named after the site of the infamous Stonewall riots in 60s New York.

Men, women, gay, straight, young and old will jostle the (hopefully) sun-baked streets for a glimpse of the 40-odd floats marching from Kreuzberg to the iconic Brandenburg Gate, leaving in its wake a riot of color and flamboyant energy.

Where the parade ends, the party starts and 400,000 are expected to gather for the festival finale which features live performances, a ‘disco corner’, sports arena and much more.

While it is, of course, an excuse to drink, dance and paint the city pink for a day, the political message is not lost during the hedonistic celebrations.

As well as raising awareness of LGBT rights around the world, the main stage at the finale will be scene of a political rally, the presentation of the Civil Courage Awards for human rights activism and an event to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and remember those who have been lost to the disease in the past.

The parade starts at 12 noon and is expected to reach its destination at 4.30pm.

Pride might be the main event, but once you’ve recovered from the all-night revelling, don’t miss Berlin’s historic and cultural attractions.

Just a stone’s throw from the Brandenburg Gate is the famous Reichstag, which houses the European country’s parliament. The queue to wind up to the top of its reconstructed glass dome may be dauntingly long at peak times, but the view over the city and the vast Tiergarten park are breathtaking.

After admiring the seat of government, take a stroll down the beautiful Unter Den Linden boulevard which leads from the gate to the imposing concrete jungle of Alexander Platz, the heart of the former east of Berlin, which is better known for the collosal and imposing television tower.

It may be a relic from a time many Berliners would like to forget, but it’s a landmark which dominates the city’s skyline and the best thing about going up it, apart from the dizzying vista, is that it’s the one place you can’t see it!

Other reminders of Berlin’s darker past can be found all around the city, with chunks of the wall which divided the city for decades still standing in many areas and memorials, museums and monuments telling the visitors the story of a metropolis which has risen from the ashes.

Of course, no trip to Berlin should go without a visit to one of its world famous museums and the Pergermon Museum in Mitte is unmissable.

As well as the second century BC Pergamon Altar, considered a Hellenistic masterpiece, it houses the jaw-dropping bright blue glazed-brick Ishtar Gate of Babylon, dating from 6th century BC.

If you still have time, there’s no better way to enjoy Berlin than in one of its bohemian cafes and bars, sipping a milky bowl of coffee or a frothy ice cold beer. Prost!

Lufthansa offers direct flights to Berlin from all over the world and, as the official airline of CSD, will be offering pride revellers discounted tickets.

To take advantage of this stonking good offer, visit their website here and enter the code DEZAEL in the Access to Event Booking area.

The GSN team will be in Berlin to cover the event, so keep your eyes peeled for coverage of all the day’s action on the Gay Star News website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.
 

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