Out Traveler: Europride Stockholm 2008

The last time Stockholm hosted EuroPride in 1998, I was here and I fell in love, both with the gorgeous Swedish capital and with my Finnish ex-boyfriend Kalle—we met here on his 30th birthday and became inseparable for the rest of the festivities. This year EuroPride has returned to Stockholm and so have Kalle and I, and we’re all celebrating a fantastic decade of international queer existence.

Amazingly, 1998 was actually the first year Stockholm ever held a Pride event; “amazingly” because in the years since EuroPride was last here, Stockholm Pride has morphed into one of the city’s largest festivals and the biggest Pride in the Nordic region. Last year, 50,000 people took part in the parade, while a whopping half-million watched from the sidelines. This year for EuroPride, as many as 700,000 are expected to do the same.

As was the case ten years ago, Stockholm EuroPride is a multi-day affair (this year expanded from a week to ten full days), with events and exhibits hubbed mainly at Pride Park (known as Tantolunden for the rest of the year) in the Södermalm area, and Pride House at Stadsteatern (within the Kulturhuset complex) at the city center. Themed “Swedish Sin, Breaking Borders,” EuroPride 2008 has wherever possible focused on the plight of LGBT people in Eastern European countries not so far beyond Sweden’s frontiers.

As the festivities ramp up in advance of Saturday’s big parade, Pride Park has been attracting literal throngs of locals and visitors, gay and straight alike this week, some coming for the huge variety of LGBT-related booths and activities, but even more for the Swede-centric entertainment slate on the main stage. Wednesday night’s performance by beloved ABBA tribute band Arrival drew 11,000, and tickets for Thursday’s Schlager Night sold out well in advance, packing upwards of 16,000 happy Eurovision- and Melodifestival- croon-a-longers into the park. The EuroPride party slate has also hit full tilt, the highlight thus far being Thursday night’s posh “Swedish Legend” event at the stunning Berns Salonger.

More to follow as Swedes sin, borders break, and EuroPride Stockholm continues to burst.

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Out Traveler: Europride Stockholm 2008