G+L_300x250-NYNEW York is the mother of gay pride parades the world over. One of the city’s largest parades, it takes place on the last Sunday of June with estimates ranging anywhere from one to two million parade spectators and attendees.

The parade kicks off at 12 noon this year on Sunday, June 28 at 36th St and Fifth Ave. It is the only major parade in New York heading south rather than north of this major thoroughfare, ending at Christopher and Greenwich streets in Greenwich Village. The procession passes New York City icons like the Empire State Building at 34th Street and the Flatiron at 23rd Street, but the best photo opportunity is at the famous Stonewall Inn itself at 53 Christopher St, near Seventh Ave. Ian McKellen is one of this year’s Grand Marshalls. That day, other pride events include the Pridefest Street Fair on Hudson St, near the Meatpacking District, with its vendors and musical entertainment. Meanwhile, the post-parade after party is the Dance on the Pier event, with headliner Ariana Grande on Pier 26 overlooking the Hudson River in Tribeca.

New Yorkers are genuinely friendly, so feel free to flirt and chat with strangers. The city is much safer than its 1970s past, but happy drunk crowds make you pickpocket-bait, so watch your valuables. Throughout Manhattan, bars will be packed. In Greenwich Village or West Village, try Ty’s at 114 Christopher St, or Pieces at 8 Christopher, or the Hangar Bar at 115 Christopher, or head to Boots & Saddle in its new home at 100 Seventh Ave South. Check out whatever is going on at the Duplex at 61 Christopher St on the corner with Seventh, close to the Stonewall Inn. Head just slightly uptown to Chelsea, where the G Lounge reigns at 225 West 19th St, between Seventh and Eighth avenues — or even further north to Hell’s Kitchen for its hot, devilish scene, especially Industry at 355 West 52nd St or Therapy across the street.

If you have been to New York a few times, explore the sandy wilds of the city’s hinterlands. Among them is fabled Fire Island, just off the southern shore of suburban Long Island. There is probably no place on earth with as high a percentage of LGBT people as in the beach communities of Cherry Grove and upscale Pines. To get there, take a train from Grand Central to Sayville, then a taxi to the ferry station. You’ll know the right boat to this magical barrier island without even asking.

For details on NYC Pride, visit nycpride.org/events

Laverne Cox was one of the starts of NYC Pride Parade 2014. (PHOTO: Michael Luongo)

Laverne Cox was one of the starts of NYC Pride Parade 2014. (PHOTO: Michael Luongo)

Alternatively, you can attend PINES PARTY on Fire Island, an easy trip just outside of New York City. July 25, 2015.

NEW YORK: HOTEL INFORMATION

Manhattan NYC an Affinia Hotel, New York

Inclusions: Five nights accommodation at the four-star Manhattan NYC an Affinia Hotel in a guest room. Return seat in vehicle JFK Airport to hotel transfers and a 60min harbour cruise of New York.

Price: $989 per person

Travel Dates: July 1–September 7, 2015

Details: Click here

For other gay and lesbian-friendly holidays, visit flightcentre.com.au/holidays/gay-and-lesbian

Flight Centre also has the US covered. Visit flightcentre.com.au/holidays/united-states

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(PHOTO: Michael Luongo)

The Empire State Building watches over NYC Pride Parade. (PHOTO: Michael Luongo)

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