11 JUN2019: New York City has always been recognized as the place where the modern day fight for LGBT rights began, both here in North America and around the globe. It took a few brave individuals to take a stand and declare, “enough is enough”. Between that fateful night back on June 28, 1969 at the tiny Stonewall Inn, to this year’s WorldPride celebrations taking place June 25 to 30, 2019 throughout all five boroughs, the fight for equality has made significant steps.

WorldPride and Stonewall 50 – what’s going on?

With an anticipated 4 million visitors, this will definitely be one of the biggest events the city of New York has ever experienced, and most likely will be the largest WorldPride celebrations in history as well. It’s the first time WorldPride is being held in the United States. Below are a few of the hundreds of events to choose from that are taking place within Manhattan and beyond.

The wonderful Whoopi Goldberg hosts a benefit concert as part of the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday, June 26th, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The evening also features performances by Cyndi Lauper. Ciara, Billy Porter, Chaka Khan, and Todrick Hall, while NYC nightlife legend, DJ Lina, keeps things grooving throughout the evening. The Closing Ceremony takes place on the evening of June 30, 2019 in NYC’s iconic Times Square, providing a full slate of influential speakers and global musical talents, including Melissa Etheridge.

The 50th NYC Pride March commences at noon, on June 30th, from 26th Street and 5th Avenue. Some 115,000 marchers will then continue along the route along Christopher Street, passing the Stonewall National Monument, the New York City AIDS Memorial, before dispersing in Chelsea for one huge party. Activists who believe that Pride has become too corporate are planning an alternative “Queer Liberation March” on the same day starting at 930am.

Five Grand Marshals were selected to lead both the 50th NYC Pride March and the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, including the entire cast of Ryan Murphy’s Pose, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Gay Liberation Front, The Trevor Project, and Monica Helms. Throughout the course of the celebration, all WorldPride events will fall within the theme, “Millions of Moments of Pride.” Many museums, galleries, and historical organizations are also programming LGBT-themed events this summer.

Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50 – Through July 14 New York Public Library, Bryant Park, Manhattan Explore the emergence of the LGBTQ civil rights movement during the 1960s and ’70s through photographs that sit alongside the library’s vast archives from LGBTQ history.

Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe – Through January 2020 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Features Robert Mapplethorpe’s collages and photographs, as well as the work of contemporary artists who reference the artist.

Art After Stonewall (1969 to 1989) NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, Manhattan and Leslie-Lohman Museum, Manhattan– through July 20 Presented in two parts, this is the first major exhibition to highlight the impact of the LGBTQ civil rights movement on the art world. Over 150 works of art and materials from artists, including Nan Goldin, Holly Hughes, Robert Mapplethorpe, Tim Miller, Catherine Opie, and Andy Warhol.

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall – Through December 8 Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Borrowing its title from the rallying words of transgender artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson, Nobody Promised You Tomorrow aims to expand understanding of the Stonewall Uprising beyond the image of protesters in the streets.

Stonewall 50 Exhibitions – Through September 22 New-York Historical Society, Manhattan Letting Loose and Fighting Back: LGBTQ Nightlife Before and After Stonewall explores the history of LGBTQ bars, clubs and nightlife in NYC during the second half of the 20th century. By the Force of Our Presence: Highlights from the Lesbian Herstory Archives examines lesbian lives both pre- and post-Stonewall. Special graphic installation, Say It Loud, Out and Proud: Fifty Years of Pride, features imagery from five decades of NYC Pride marches.

Pride – Through November Museum of the City of New York, Manhattan Examine NYC through the lens of photographer Fred W. McDarrah, who created an encyclopedic archive of culture and politics for The Village Voice; from the Beats of the 1950s to the counterculture of the ’60s, to the Stonewall Uprising and major political events of the early 1970s.

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project – Citywide, Year Round The first initiative to document historic and cultural sites associated with the LGBTQ community in all five boroughs. Sites illustrate the richness of the City’s LGBTQ history and the community’s influence on America. It should also be noted that the Leslie-Lohman Museum is the only dedicated LGBTQ+ art museum in the world, housing over 30,000 objects in its collections, and spanning more than three centuries of queer art.

Pride Island at Pier 17 (June 29-30) features the legendary Grace Jones, along with Teyana Taylor, Pabllo Vittar, and more. Pride Fest (June 30) is an annual street fair that combines exhibitors, entertainers and activities for a day of fun and celebration in the name of equality on 4th Ave between Union Square and Astor Place, 11am to 6pm.

Only in NYC – what to see and where to be

While all the Pride parties could easily keep you busy during your entire stay, there’s so much else going on all year round in this great city that you should be aware of. CityPASS is a great option for those wanting to hit some of the top “must see” attractions, including admission to several top museums, ferry and admission to the Statue of Liberty, and entrance to Empire State Building, which is open until 2am daily.

The One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower) was built to commemorate the tragedy of the World Trade Twin Towers. Visitors can take an elevator up 102 stories in 47 seconds to reach the Observatory, offering amazing views of the bustling city below. Make it a day and catch the ferry over to the nearby Statue of Liberty. A trip to NYC would not be complete without taking in a Broadway performance, and not to be missed is The Cher Show at the historic Neil Simon Theater, a dazzling homage to the music icon.

For something unique and unusual, stop by Spyscape, the world’s largest interactive spy museum features world-class architecture, artifacts, technology and experiences. Test your hacking, code-breaking and espionage skills to discover your inner spy. As well, the National Geographic Encounter offers a journey into the Pacific Ocean via this undersea experience that uses groundbreaking technology and photo-realistic animation. Both will wow your mind, not only with the exhibitions themselves, but the fact that they are located right in the centre of Manhattan.

There have been a few major new land developments and revitalization projects within the city that opened to the public earlier this year. The Shed is a new arts centre and cultural institution that’s housed in The Bloomberg Building, located on West 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. Hudson Yards is a pulsating hub of connectivity, community, culture and creativity. The site includes more than 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space, more than 100 shops, a collection of restaurants, approximately 5,000 residences, a unique cultural space, 14 acres of public open space, and a 200-room Equinox branded luxury hotel. Make sure to walk the Vessel, it’s spectacular and free, but ticketed. The Seaport District is located on the East River in Lower Manhattan with unparalleled views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the city’s iconic skyline. The area was recently revitalized into a top destination for unique culinary, fashion, entertainment and cultural experiences.

If you’re wanting the learn some local LGBT history from the experts, then sign up for one of the wonderful Oscar Wilde Tours. Centred around Greenwich Village, the heart of LGBT and counter culture since the 1920s, this walking tour provides information on the Beat Generation, Andy Wharhol’s Factory, and of course gay liberation. The tours are lead by Professor Andrew Lear, and begin at the infamous Stonewall Inn, and ends at Julius, one of the city’s oldest continuously operating gay bars.

Another unique tour worth checking out is, The Ride. It’s definitely not your typical stuffy recorded tour commentary. Instead, it’s an interactive event, whereby the tour hosts combine facts and figures with fun and frivolity. Seats on the bus are set up sideways in a somewhat bleacher type arrangement offering everyone a full street view. As the bus tours around the city, various performers appear whom the tour guides are able to communicate with, and guests can hear what’s going on at street level. There’s plenty of surprises to be had. The company recently added, Queen of The Ride, where commentary is done by local drag queen legends.

Rest and Relaxation – where to sleep and retreat

There’s no shortage of accommodation options within New York City, guaranteeing something to fit every style and budget. The Renaissance New York Times Square, recently went through room renovations and despite its location literally right in Times Square, the double pane windows guarantee almost silence when you are ready to call it a day. Make your travels extra special by treating yourself to one of their superior terrace rooms, with oversized balconies that let you observe all the action without having to leave your room. For the best views of Times Square, make your way to R Lounge, located on property. Grab a bite and a cocktail, watch the action below, including the closing ceremonies for WorldPride....and imagine being there for New Year’s Eve! Watch for special Pride-themed events happening here as well.

Several other hotels are also getting into the Pride spirit. Crowne Plaza HY36 is offering guests a gift bag stuffed with Pride-themed bandanas, fans, and Absolut Rainbow Vodka minis. There will also be a curated selection of classic and modern LGBT literature tucked away in the hotel's common area. Fairfield Inn Penn Station has an Over the Rainbow Premium Package that includes a limited edition Unicorn Headband, a World Pride bracelet, a celebratory Pride mini-flag, sweet treats, and two complimentary drink coupons to enjoy up at the hotel’s Skyline Rooftop Bar & Lounge. The Row NYC is an official WorldPride hotel partner, and will have live entertainment, specialty cocktails, and drag queen bingo.

In celebration of WorldPride 2019, Hilton has curated a selection of Pride-inspired cocktails throughout all nine properties across the city. Visitors can sip their way across New York City by following a cocktail guide with different Pride cocktails at each location, including five rooftop bars at Conrad, Embassy Suites Midtown, The Bernic, Fashion District, and Double Tree Times Square. Also add a bit of glitz to your WorldPride strut with Hilton’s onsite glitter glamour stations located in the lobby of select hotels (Fashion District, Midtown, Downtown, Tribeca) from 9am to 12pm on June 30. There’s also a Marriott-wide #LoveTravels WorldPride 2019 package at all NYC hotels, that includes a #LoveTravels bandana, discounts, and more.

While not downtown, the newly opened TWA Hotel at JFK Airport might be worth an overnight stay on your way in or out of the city. This retro-themed property is housed in the old TWA terminal that has been transformed into a leading edge travel destination, whether staying overnight, or grabbing a quick bite between flights.

There’s also no shortage of cool and quirky places to grab a relaxing drink while on your explorations. Lips and Lucky Cheng’s are two long-standing cabaret-type restaurants that offer a unique drag and dine experience. Club Cumming has quickly become one of NYC's favourite downtown hot spots, featuring weekly performances by the city's hottest talents, where celebrity sightings are common. Be sure to check out Linda Loves Bingo at various venues around the city, hosted by NYC’s number one ladylike, wisecracking Bingo Queen, Linda Simpson. Other LGBT bars to check out, include The Duplex, Monster, Marie’s, Cubby Hole, and Henrietta Hudson. While not LGBT specific, the following are hidden gems that are worthy of a stop - The Campbell, The Eddy, Castell Rooftop Lounge, and Employees Only.

Beyond NYC – extend your stay by visiting other parts of New York State

Camp Cumming is a magical weekend in the Poconos held at the recently refurbished Rainbow Mountain Resort, June 14 to 16, There’s a campfire sing-a-long hosted by indie rocker Jill Sobule ("I Kissed a Girl"), comedy by Catherine Cohen, poolside shenanigans with DJ Bright Light, Bright Light, surprise performances, and more. Plus powerhouse singer and comedienne Amber Martin and Daniel Nardicio recreate one of Bette Midler's iconic 1970s shows from NYC's Continental Baths, titled, Bette Bathhouse and Beyond. The audience will be required to don only towels to recreate the vibe of the famed bathhouse.

Pride on the Beach (June 21-23) is held on Long Island, the birthplace of Harvey Milk, and will kick off New York’s Pride celebrations with a three-day weekend filled with activities that attracts more than 30,000 people. Over 30+ LGBTQ events are planned, including the festival's 29th annual Pride Parade, the second annual Pet Pride Parade, live music, parties, and more. Pride on the Vines (June 25) is a day-long event in North Fork’s picturesque wine country includes tours, tastings, receptions and parties.

Accessible by public transportation from Manhattan, Fire Island offers two beaches: The Pines, and Cherry Grove. There are no paved roads and no cars in these beach communities, but if you follow the wooden boardwalks through the forest, you’re bound to find summer parties beyond your wildest dreams. Riis Beach is also accessible by public transportation, and is the summer playground catering more toward NYC’s queer artists and activists. There’s also a wide range of artisanal eats and treats at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar. If you’re more into staying put in the city, there’s always Central Park to stroll around in and explore, which offers a peaceful escape just steps from all the action.

So, there you have it. Now go get lost in New York City, and have an amazing Pride experience!


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