EventssliderTime Out

Rainbow flag waving in all the proud colors of its political activism
against the sky of Madrid during a MADO festival

by Rose Maramba


The fiestas of Madrid Orgullo (Madrid Pride, aka MADO) is – would you believe? — the biggest Gay Pride festival in Europe. It is if it attracts some two million people each year to this exhilarating street party that lasts days on end – and it does.

When it comes to partying there are no people quite like the Spanish people and their friends, the LGBTIQ+ and all else.




Friday 23 June: CHUECA’s PRIDE
MADO celebrations kick off, albeit unofficially, with exciting local events in the iconic neighborhood of Chueca, the quasi-official seat of the gay movement in Spain., the LGBT quarters in Madrid.

Show you won’t stand for animal abuse as you show off your pretty pets. Pet party starts at 7:00 PM, Plaza de Pedro Zerolo.

Pedro Zerolo at a press conference in September 2013

Wednesday 28 June: PRIDE PROCLAMATION (Pregón del Orgullo)
The official start of MADO celebrations is proclaimed. Programming includes Welcome speeches, dance numbers (Rafaella Carra’s “Bailo Bailo” for one”), presentation of MADO 2023’s official hymn (“A quien le importa?”), and the Black & White fiesta.
Place: Plaza de Pedro Zerolo in – where else? – Chueca. From 8:00 PM.
Backgrounder in brief: Pedro Zerolo, for whom the plaza was named during the plenary session of the Madrid City Council on 24 July 2015, was an LGBT activist and former city councilor, running under the banner of the socialdemocratic PSOE party. He was president of the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Trans and Bisexuals (1997–2003).
The naming of the plaza was a homage to the charismatic activist who died of pancreatic cancer in June 2015.

The LGBTIQ Pride Week sprouts concerts in centrally located Plazas de Pedro Zerolo, Callao, España, and del Rey. At Plaza de España, expect famous artists the likes of Falete, Dani  Dutrera, Álvaro Sola and Marisol Bizcocho.

So plenty of music, but also dance, theater, poetry, puppetry. . .

Ankle-twisting back-breaking carrera de tacones

Thursday 29 June: HIGH-HEEL RACE (Carrera de Tacone)
A most popular race on Calle Pelayo. Try making it to the finish line on 6-inch heels! Ankle-twisting, back-breaking if you aren’t an ace in the balancing act. And yet the Tacones is now on its 23rd edition. From 6:00 PM

Also: MADRID SUMMIT 2023, Gay Pride’s International Conference of Human Rights. Prominent activists and experts from around the world gather together to fight for LGBTIQ+ equality and human rights, sharing experiences and putting forward specific proposals in support of LGBTIQ rights everywhere.

From 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM

Theme for 2023: #ORGULLOENMIPUEBLO (PRIDEINMY TOWN), to give visibility to the LGBTIQ community in rural areas.
Competitions in regions across Spain during the year preceding Gay Pride week. The regional contests highlight the different realities of the LGTBIQ collective via the personal stories and ambitions of the contestants. Finalists come to the Spanish Capital for the gala of spectacular dimensions at Plaza España.

Spectators by the thousands are expected to flock to the plaza

An estimated 25,000 are expected to attend. Line-up: live shows, celebrity guests, sexy finalists displaying their talents, the crowning of Mr Gay España 2023.

More than eleven million spectators will watch live in the media, on television and the Internet per the organizers´ reckoning.

Gala: from 10:00 PM

Saturday 1 July: PRIDE MARCH (Manifestación Estatal)
The pièce de resistance of all the MADO events. The Climax. Tradition rules that the march be held on the first Saturday of July. MADO’s is one of the most important Pride parades in Europe.

Pride parade, the festival’s pièce de resistance

Route: from Paseo del Prado, next to the Botanical Gardens, to Colón where thousands of ebullient Spanish folk and their effervescent guests from many parts of the world manifest, in an amazing atmosphere of diversity and fun, their unconditional support for LGBTIQ+ equal rights.

Floats, music, vibrant colors that only an amazing Rainbow can bring to life. Political activism. Hope.

Starts at 7:00 PM.

Sunday 2 July: MADO’23 CLOSING CEREMONY (Clausura MADO ‘ 23)
Curtain rings down on the GAYest of parties.

But it’s not closing time. It’s to bring MADO one day closer to celebrating World Pride legacy.

MADO announces: “In 2017, we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Spain ́s first Pride Parade in 1977, which marked the beginning of the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual rights movement in our country.” Those were exciting times. Spain was then “in the full transition process towards democracy after 40 years of dictatorship, being the LGBT community one of the most affected by the repression of the regime.” A bright and gay future was gleanable.

Homosexuality was highly illegal under the Franco dictatorship. Laws against homosexual activity were vigorously enforced and homosexuals were given harsh punishments for their sexual orientation. There were occasions when imprisonment was the least of the punishments.

Love has no gender? Say that to Vox.

Actually, if one chooses to look back into the dark past, one will find that Spain has a long history of gay persecution. In the year 589 – get that, the 6th century! – the Visigothic kingdom in Spain converted from Arianism to Catholicism, revising the law to conform to the laws of Catholic countries. These revisions include provisions for the persecution of gays and Jews.

Today, there is still so much work to be done, battles to be fought in Spain, a pioneer in gender equality. In 2005 it was one of only three countries to legalize same-sex marriage. Reuters reported in 2019: “Vox [the ultra-right political party] has pledged to curtail gay pride parades, heaped ridicule on diversity lessons it wants to scrap in schools and has even drawn parallels between homosexuality and bestiality.”

The LGTBIQ+ enjoys the support of wide swathes of the Spanish society

In the local elections held on 28 May 2023, said to be the dress rehearsal for the general elections set for this July, Vox was the third most-voted party, trailing just behind PSOE and moderate-right Partido Popular.

But once the fight has begun, the LGTBIQ community, with the support of wide swathes of the Spanish society, will win out, stumbling blocks and all notwithstanding. Can’t fail now.

Closing gala (“Orgullo Latino”): Plaza de España, from 8:00 PM


For complete programming:


Featured image/Onanymous, CC BY3.0. Cropped
Madrid poster, www.madridorgullo.comFair use
Pedro Zerolo/Jaime Lissavetzky, CC BY-SA2.0
Carrera de Tacones/Barcez, CC BY-SA3.0, cropped
Spectators by the thousands/David Mapletoff, CC BY2.0. Partial face blot-out supplied
Pride parade/Ybridex AngeloDemon, CC BY2.0
“Love has no gender”/David Mapletoff, CC BY2.0
LGTBIQ support/Diario de Madrid, CC BY.0