Tourist Tip #255 / The Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade

The parade flows through half the city and deposits participants on the beach for a massive communal party.

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Most cities around the world celebrate Gay Pride over the course of a weekend. Tel Aviv is so proud that it stretches the fun over a week. Elsewhere, the Pride Parade kicks off the fun, but here it's the cherry on top.

This past week the city has welcomed thousands of foreign tourists who made the trek for what, in the last few years, has become one of the most popular gay events on the international calendar. Rainbow flags flap along major boulevards and every night guests can choose from a smorgasbord of parties and events. (It's no accident: Tel Aviv has winked and flirted and beckoned all these revelers, investing tens of thousands of shekels on publicity abroad.)

All of this culminates Friday in the Tel Aviv Pride Parade which flows through half the city and deposits its participants on the shores of the Mediterranean for a massive communal party.

Festivities get under way at 10 A.M. at Gan Meir, a modest, shaded park in the center of town (on King George Street between Allenby and Bugrashov streets) where Tel Aviv's impressive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center is located. The park is the holding grounds for all the floats and groups planning to march and will also boast live music, info stands, merchandise stations and likely a roving pack of drag queens.

The parade is slated to get underway at around 1 P.M., moving up Bugrashov Street, turning right onto Ben Yehuda Street and left on Arlosoroff Street, ending at Gordon Beach (in front of the Renaissance and Herod's hotels) where DJs and famous Israeli singers will serenade the crowd into the sunset. The party will begin at around 3 P.M. and carry on until about 6 P.M.

Another thing that distinguishes the Tel Aviv Pride Parade from others is that, unlike other cities where orderly delegations wave to stationary observers as they pass by, here in Tel Aviv, everyone sort of moves with the parade, weaving between floats and pausing to dance in front of a mobile DJ. So don't expect to stake out a spot and just watch. At Tel Aviv Pride, you're expected to jump right in.

Gan Meir is the starting point for the annual Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade, a citywide celebration each June that winds through the streets and ends at a party on Gordon Beach. Credit: Moti Kimche

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