Every year, there are countless Pride Festivals around the world. You may have heard, or even been, to a few of them. Each and every Pride Festival seems to be getting bigger by the year too. But, what country has the biggest Pride Festival?
The largest Gay Pride Festival in the world is in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Depending on the year, there can be up to 5,000,000 attendees throughout the week. If you are looking for a fantastic place to just be yourself, then heading to Sao Paulo in June would be perfect.
On this page, we’re going to take a look at Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride Festival in a little bit of depth. We’ll let you know what happens there. when it happens, and a little bit about the history of the place.
Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride Festival
Sao Paulo, Brazil’s Gay Pride Festival is the largest in the world. Or, at least that is what most people believe. It currently holds the Guinness World Record for Gay Pride Festival attendance, although some people believe that the number of attendees reported is ever so slightly less than who attends. Although, even when you consider that, the Gay Pride Festival is still absolutely massive.
It is believed that anywhere from 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 people attend Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride Festival each year. Although, this is nowhere near close to what Carnaval attracts to Sao Paulo, we assume this just means that the city is capable of handling that influx of people.
As with most Gay Pride events around the world, Sao Paulo’s takes place over the course of the week. However, the culmination of the festival will be a parade. While there are various floats during this parade, the main ‘highlight’ is the sheer number of LBGTQ people that are walking between the floats. If you have ever seen a picture of Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride Festival, then you will be in awe at the number of people wandering around the streets.
Throughout the festival, there’ll be plenty of activities in the local bars, clubs, hotels, and on the streets. With the amount that goes on at Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride Festival, it is ranked as not only the most attended Gay Pride Festival in the world but one of the best. In fact, Grindr regularly carries out a survey for the best Gay Pride Festivals around, and Sao Paulo’s is always at the top of the list.
If you are in the area for Gay Pride, then we can promise you that Sao Paulo is worth a visit. It is one of the most accepting cities in the world, and when you are in Sao Paulo, you genuinely do feel like you can be yourself. While other Gay Pride Festivals around the world are often limited to a certain area, you pretty much have the entirety of Sao Paulo at your disposal when you attend the festival there.
When is Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride Festival?
Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride Festival often happens a little earlier than other Gay Pride Festivals. The date does move a little bit each year, but expect the festivities to start in May, with the parade happening right at the start of June.
The History of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s Gay Pride Festival
Most Gay Pride festivals have a fairly extensive history behind them. Many of them have their roots in the Stonewall Riots in the US, with Gay Pride festivals popping up around the world throughout the 70s in light of this. São Paulo, despite having the largest Gay Pride Festival in the world, doesn’t have this history. Instead, it just started in 1997 when LGBTQ organizations in Brazil realized that they probably should do something. After all, Brazil has long been one of the top countries in the world for gay rights.
The very first Sao Paulo Gay Pride Festival was a small affair. It is believed no more than 2,000 people were in attendance. At the time, this meant that it would have been the smallest gay pride festival in the world. However, the popularity of the festival increased each year. Just 7 years later, the attendance at the festival was around 1.5 million, and the number hasn’t really gone down since then.
There are many different reasons why Sao Paulo has become the largest gay pride festival in the world. However, it pretty much all boils down to how much support the festival actually gets from within Brazil. It is loved by tons of politicians (some of whom march in the parade), and because it generates a decent amount of money for the Sao Paulo economy, the city invests heavily in it too.
It is worth noting that while the Sao Paulo Gay Pride Festival wasn’t really born out of the ‘struggle’ like many other gay pride events, it has still had a huge impact on the way that Brazil works. Each and every year, Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride event has a slogan behind it. You can think of this slogan as a bit of a mission statement about how gay rights should improve going forward. For example, shortly before gay marriage was legalized in Brazil, it was one of the leading messages at the Gay Pride festival in Sao Paulo. In recent years, the aim has been to push Brazil toward being a secular state in a bid to make being gay much more accepting from a legal perspective (even though Brazil has some of the best gay rights in the world, especially throughout South America).
As Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride is already the biggest event of its kind in the world, we only see it getting bigger over time. It seems as if almost every single year of the event outdoes the previous one. In fact, it is long past the point where people are even able to guess how many people are in attendance. It is millions of them. Most people seem to think around the 5,000,000 mark (although, the Brazilian police estimate that the figure is much lower than this). One thing is for sure – as long as people continue to hear about how great Sao Paulo is, and as long as the government continues to invest in the event, it is just going to keep going. Who knows what social change the event is going to have as time goes on?
Things To Do During the World’s Biggest Gay Pride Festival
So, you already know that Sao Paulo’s Gay Pride Festival is the largest gay pride festival in the world, so what types of things can you do there? Well, truth be told, it isn’t that much different from other pride festivals that you have been to in the past. It is just a non-stop party atmosphere. Let’s walk you through what we believe are the highlights of the event.
Sao Paulo Gay Pride Parade
The highlight of the Sao Paulo Gay Pride Festival is the Gay Pride Parade. This is where the bulk of attendees will be. It is a pretty hefty parade too. It is 2.6 miles long, and it lasts around 7-8 hours.
The parade always begins at the Museum of Art of Sao Paulo, before heading all the way through to Downtown Sao Paulo. Obviously, you can watch the whole event from anywhere on the route.
The parade meeting always starts at 12 p.m., although you won’t move until around 2-3 p.m. Obviously, you don’t need to be at the meeting point if you are purely there to watch the parade. But, if you are at the meeting point, you’ll have the opportunity to follow everybody the length of the route.
As we said a little bit earlier on, the parade is going to have a lot of floats there (and a lot of live musicians on some of these floats), but the real highlight of the parade will be the number of people that have come together to celebrate their identity. It is enough to bring a tear to your eye knowing that, for once in many of these people’s lives they are feeling accepted for who they are.
Check Out the Jardin District
The Gay Pride event festivities start a week, sometimes up to three weeks, before the actual parade. As we said, this is a city that really comes alive to celebrate LGBTQ causes.
If you want to stay at the heart of the gay community in Sao Paulo, then you need to stay in the Jardin District. While there are gay bars and clubs located all over the city, the vast majority of gay-friendly businesses are in the Jardin District, and that’s where you could meet a few people to chat with.
Once the parade is over, you should head straight to the Jardin District. There’ll be plenty of parties happening, and there’ll be thousands and thousands of people in the streets throughout the night. In true Brazilian style, you are going to have an awesome street party there!
Head Out of the Jardin District
If you are in Sao Paulo in the week leading up to gay pride, then we suggest that you head out of the Jardin District a little. While most of the city is gay-friendly throughout the whole year, they really kick it to another level once the pink money starts to roll into town. You’ll see plenty of cultural events aimed at gay people, lots of gay parties, and more.
If you want to know what is happening when Gay Pride rolls around, you’ll find a calendar of events on the official Sao Paulo website.
Check Out Some Theater
One of the highlights of Pride in Sao Paulo is the theater. When Gay Pride rolls around (often in the 2 to 3 weeks before), theater groups around the city will start to put together some amazing plays celebrating sexual identity. We suggest that you head to one or two of these. It is a great way to get involved with Brazilian culture, and many of these plays are going to be performed in English. If they aren’t performed in English, don’t worry too much. We still suggest you go and watch them because they are a real spectacle.
Check Out Some Street Markets
Sao Paulo is home to a lot of street markets during Gay Pride. Check out a few of them. You are going to want to pick up some souvenirs from your trip to this amazing city. You may even be able to pick up a few affordable pieces of clothing that you can wear when you are marching down the road with millions of other people!
LGBTQ+ History Tour
We have been to the Sao Paulo Gay Pride Festival plenty of times, and one of the highlights is the LGBTQ+ history tours that happen around the area. Following an experienced tour guide, you’ll learn more about the impact that Sao Paulo has had on gay rights both in Brazil and around the world. You’ll also discover some of the cool gay hotspots that you can check out later on.
There are plenty of history tours that run through the area, so check out a few review sites to see which one would be best while you’re there. Remember, they are going to get booked up quite quickly due to all the tourists!
If you want to visit the biggest Pride Festival in the world, then you need to make a beeline for Sao Paulo. Millions of people do it every single year. If you don’t live in Brazil, then it is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. However, we promise you that it is going to be an event that will have memories that you can treasure for years and years to come!
Remember – if you want to go to Sao Paulo for Gay Pride, you will have to book your accommodation in advance. It books up incredibly quickly, owing to the millions of people being there, so if you don’t book several months in advance, you probably won’t have anywhere to sleep and, trust us, you are going to want to be doing a lot of sleeping after the festivities of the Sao Paulo Gay Pride event have worn you down!