With an estimated one in 10 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender residents it is no surprise that Cologne (in German, Köln) has been dubbed the gay capital of Germany. The huge number of bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs catering to a gay or lesbian clientele in the city attest to how important that community has become to Cologne’s identity.

The biggest date in Cologne’s gay calendar is ColognePride, which runs from June 18 to July, culminating in the city’s Christopher Street Day weekend from July 1 – 3, and is expected to draw a crowd of more than 500,000 people this year.

The Christopher Street Day weekend pivots around four major events: the Cologne AIDS gala on the Friday night, the Christopher Street Day Festival in the Old Town lasting Friday to Sunday, the huge Colour dance party on Saturday night, and the Christopher Street Day parade on Sunday.

The Cologne AIDS gala is held as a fundraiser for Aidshilfe Cologne and traditionally takes place at the Maritim Hotel.

With a top-class program, celebrity performers and a glamorous audience, the gala is among the most important social events on the Cologne gay scene.

Those unable to secure tickets to the gala can check out the market stands and entertainment at the Christopher Street Day Festival in the Old Town, from 6pm on the Friday with more than 20 hours of entertainment being delivered across three locations over the weekend.

The largest of these is located in Cologne’s Heumarkt Square, where the closing rally will take place on the Sunday following the parade, and features an array of big acts across the weekend.

For a mix of politics and cabaret head to the Politu stage, where the atmosphere is more downbeat, while at the Open Air dancefloor some of the world’s top DJs will incite the crowds to dance.

Then, from noon on the Sunday 30,000 participants in 80 groups will set off from the right bank of the Rhine in Deutz, meandering their way through the city to finish at Cologne Cathedral.

For those who have more than a weekend to stay in Cologne, there is also a host of GLBT events in the two weeks leading up to the Christopher Street Day weekend, including ‘Veedelsfest’ in the bar district close to Rudolfplatz.

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