Tel Aviv's immensely popular Pride Parade – the city's 20th annual march celebrating LGBT rights – kicked off Friday morning. The event attracted huge crowds, with over 250,000 people attending, including about 30,000 foreign tourists, and is themed as "This year, the community makes history."
It's the biggest event of its kind in the region and draws people from around the world to party.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted that he was proud of those marching in the parade, saying that advancing human rights has long been U.S. policy.
Cordelia Lange, from Germany, said Tel Aviv is "a very vibrant city, it's a city that embraces everything connected to gays, lesbians and LGBT and I think it's a combination of city at the beach and good vibes."
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Israel has emerged as one of the world's most gay-friendly travel destinations in recent years, in sharp contrast to the rest of the Middle East, where gay culture is often not tolerated and homosexuals are persecuted in some places.
The 2018 Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade features a tribute to longtime LGBT activists. The official parade was preceded by events on Ben-Zion Boulevard beginning at 10 A.M. The parade will conclude with a massive party at Charles Clore Park, near the city's Mediterranean shoreline, which will continue into the evening.
Musical offerings will include favorites from the Eurovision Song Contest over the years, a performance by longtime members of the LGBT community of "Golden Boy," as well as a drag show and an appearance by the Israeli Arab diva Nasreen Qadri.
10 A.M.: Ben-Zion Blvd.: Performances, vendors and activities for children and adults
Noon: Departing Ben-Zion Blvd.: Parade kickoff by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai
The parade will proceed west (towards the sea) on Bogroshov Street, right on Hayarkon Street, left on Frishman Street, and left on Herbert Samuel Promenade to Charles Clore Park.
1 P.M.: Parade of 13 floats departs from the intersection of Frishman and Herbert Samuel
2:30 P.M.: Main performance stage opens, hosted by Gal Uhovsky and Lucy Aharish at Charles Clore Park
3:30 P.M.: Final floats enter Charles Clore Park
3:00 to 6:45 P.M.: Main stage performances by star performers, including Israel's Netta Barzilai, the winner of this year's Eurovision competition. The adjoining area will include a shaded space with activities for children, a teen area operated by the Israel Gay Youth organization, and stands selling food and other products.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.