Cultural events, beach parties, exhibitions, parades, festivals, music and dance shows, lectures and special tourist attractions are just some of the ways that Tel Aviv will be celebrating Gay Pride Month 2013, which starts officially this Friday.

It won't just be Israelis who will enjoy the festivities. Organizers are expecting over 20,000 foreign tourists to arrive for the pride events, which will carry on throughout the month of June.

The main event will be the central Gay Pride March, which will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 7. This year the Tel Aviv Pride Parade is marking 20 years of pride in the city. It will start with a community happening at Meir Park with musical performances, celebrity appearances and speeches by public figures such as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Culture Minister Limor Livnat, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich, Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, and Knesset Member Dov Henin (Hadash).

The parade will begin at 1 p.m. and will include a procession of floats and organized groups of marchers who will be accompanied by thousands of supporters waving pride flags and enjoying the fine summer weather. The parade, which will include floats with DJs from the four main gay clubs - Evita, Shirazi, ADD and Dreck, will leave Meir Park, travel down Bograshov Street, then pass through Ben Yehuda Street onto Arlozorov Street, ending with a beach party at Gordon Beach starting at 3 p.m. The beach party will be hosted by Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli. It will include live performances by popular stars such as Omer Adam, Michal Amdursky and others, along with DJ sets by FFF, DRECK, Arisa, 3S0ME, Forever, Evita and Popring.

Tel Aviv Pride 2012

Last year, an estimated 100,000 people took part in the parade, carrying colorful banners calling for equality. Organizers expect even more participants this year.

Additional pride parties will be held during the entire weekend across town, kicked off by an opening reception at Beit Ha'ir. The exhibition Night Stamp, which marks 20 years of gay nightlife in Tel Aviv, will be on display.

From May 30 until June 6, Hilton Beach will be decorated with gay pride flags and chill out music will entertain locals and tourists alike. The beach, which is popular among the local gay community and was recently voted as one of the top 10 gay beaches in the world, will host some of the city's leading clubs between midday and sunset everyday that week.

For those who want the full lowdown of all the up-to-date events, a brochure in Hebrew and English outlining the different Gay Pride Week events will be distributed on the beach.

Fountain in Rabin Square lit up with colors of pride flag

The city has already been painted the colors of the rainbow, with official pride flags flying proudly along many of the major streets, such as Ibn Gabirol. A huge rainbow flag was hung in Rabin Square made up of pictures sent by the public to the municipality through Facebook under the banner "Proud in Tel Aviv." Also in Rabin Square, the water fountain will be lit up with the colors of the rainbow every evening during pride month.

For those looking for something a little more cultured to get in the mood before the big parties begin, there will be a cultural festival held at Tel Aviv's Pride Center until June 6. The festival will include theater, music and dance performances as well as lectures and speakers.

Gay Pride flags along Ibn Gvirol Street, Tel Aviv

If the build-up events and the parade weren't enough, the pride festivities will continue when the 8th Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival comes to town between June 8-17. The festival will feature some of the most cutting edge gay and lesbian cinema from Israel and abroad (www.tlvfest.com).

Tel Aviv Municipality has dedicated NIS 590,000 to the pride events this year and another NIS 225 have been invested in a campaign to target gay tourism in the city.

"The Pride Parade has become one of the symbols of the city," said Huldai. "Tens of thousands of participants and tourists from Israel and the world take part every year. I believe that Tel Aviv-Jaffa, a city of tolerance, will serve as a lighthouse and compass for other cities in the country in regards to this issue." 



The official music video for Tel Aviv Gay Pride Week was released Monday and features a song written by Doron Medli and performed by singer Omer Adam.

The video, which was filmed on location in Tel Aviv, features gay actor and model Eliad Cohen as well as dancers from Arisa, a popular line of gay parties.

Even local businesses are getting involved in the Pride fever.



Popular coffee shop chain Espresso Bar has launched a limited edition ecological take away cup that features the rainbow colors of the pride flag. Throughout the month of June the coffee shops will serve takeaway drinks in the special cups, which will replace the regular black and white design.

As part of their commitment to the gay community, the chain will donate some of its earnings from sales of coffee to IGY, Israel's gay youth organization.

City council member and chairman of IGY, Yaniv Weizman, praised the initiative. "I hope that more and more businesses and companies will choose to help the community and work towards improving the image of the gay community," said Weizman.

For more information on all the upcoming events see www.telavivgayvibe.com



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