The LGTB Friendly Guide to Rotterdam

If you’re looking to celebrate diversity in all its colours, or just curious, then put vibrant Rotterdam on your rainbow radar. The Netherlands has long been known for its progressive LGTB rights and liberal society, but did you know that it is officially one of the most LGTB friendly places in the world? Ranked #9 by the Spartacus Gay Index 2018 of LGTB friendly destinations and host to plenty of events and scene nightlife; this is a great place to explore what’s on offer. They even have Eurovision 2020 coming to town!  

The Open-minded Dutch

The reputation of us open-minded Dutchies is true! We are welcoming to everyone, and also not shy to tackle human rights and equality within Dutch society. In surveys, more than 95% of Dutch people consistently approve of same-sex relationships, and the oldest organisation fighting for LGBTI rights since 1946 is Dutch: COC Nederland. The world famous Amsterdam Gay Pride is one of the biggest events in the Netherlands and now Rotterdam sports its own Rotterdam Pride festival too. We also celebrate Roze Filmdagen, or Pink Movie Days, which is part of Amsterdam's LGTB Film Festival each March and the last Saturday of June since the 70s hosts Roze Zaterdag, or Pink Saturday, which was born from the original gay pride. Here it is not just people being open-minded but legislation also: homosexual activity has been legal since the 40's and LGTB discrimination illegal since 1993. Want a gay bar or a late night shimmy on the dance floor? Then what are you waiting for? Dive into Room Rotterdam’s LGTB friendly guide.

Exploring Rotterdam

Gay friendly in Rotterdam doesn’t just mean a neighbourhood; the city is welcoming as a whole. This is not just an edgy place famous for its huge port and progressive architecture, it is also known for its laid back locals and party scene. There is an abundance of lively bars and pulsating clubs to keep you out late, and even a well-known gay sauna: as they say, they’ve been keeping things steamy for over 30 years! From poetry and film festivals to Pride and naked parties; there’s plenty on offer in Rotterdam if you’re looking for a little variety.

LGTB Events in Rotterdam

Milkshake Festival has been bringing boys to the yard since 2012 when it hit Rotterdam with a high energy dance festival with a difference. Think Pink, and add in a bouncy castle and a slew of music acts and shiny outfits and you have this summer festival all wrapped up. Come along and celebrate diversity with an awesome crowd and enjoy a smorgasbord of musical delights. Milkshake is also throwing an indoor festival for Rotterdam Pride, so check out this debut event in September!

Rotterdam Pride – 22nd to 29th September 2019
Pride Festival is of course huge in Amsterdam and has been since the 90s, but now Rotterdam Pride is catching up with their September celebration of all things LGTB. Proudly presenting their 6th year of Rotterdam Pride, this year’s colourful theme and citywide celebration of all things LGTBQI promises to be a movable feast. From the well-heeled Pride Walk: Parade of Love, to fabulously glittering Drag Queen concerts and informative workshops. As most of you will know; Pride is all about recognising and celebrating diversity and respect, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This means that not only are there some serious talks and art performances which deal with issues surrounding discrimination and awareness for the LGTB community, there are also some outrageously fun parties!

If you’re fond of a rainbow flag and like dressing up with some flare and panache, then get yourself along to one of the free music concerts or join in the hip Pride Walk at Pride this September. The theme for 2019 is House of Colours, so bring your family, friends and lovers for a dazzling Pride experience. Everyone is welcome to this glittering inclusive and diverse event, the more colourful the better – be proud!!

Check out the programme of events here for the full list of concerts, poetry readings, workshops and theatre performances taking place in Rotterdam Pride Week.

Queer Poetry Nights
Poetic musings and vocal expression can be found aplenty at the Queer Poetry Nights hosted during Rotterdam Pride and Queer Summer Poetry Nights – check out what to expect from this open event here.

Gay and lesbian summer film festival
10th July to 4th September
Lantaren Venster’s Gay & Lesbian Film Festival has been a firm favourite in the pink calendar for years, with pre-premiere screenings and cult classics running on the reels. If films are you thing then get your popcorn ready some new releases and firm favourites for the Tuesday screenings of LGTBI themed movies all summer long. Find the programme of movies here

Underwear and Naked Party
Why not? If you like to have fun in the buff or show off your racy- lacey numbers then get yourself along to the aptly named Underwear and Naked Party. Hosted by The Moods Bar and aimed at men, there are several opportunities for you to enjoy stripping off, whatever the weather! Check here for the next chance to go, and don’t forget, the dress code is strict!

Eurovision 2020: 12th-16th May
Who doesn’t secretly love the Eurovision Song Contest? Calling all Conchita Wurst fans - you don’t have to be gay, but it does help! A slew of dazzling performances, glitter balls, costumes and drama; Eurovision is everyone’s guilty pleasure, and it’s being hosted in Rotterdam in 2020! The Ahoy Rotterdam Arena will be packed with expectant fans to see some of Europe’s most unique talent, some tactical voting, Scandinavian sagas, and pyrotechnics. Who will be the most controversial performance, and who will get the least votes?? The city will be looking forward to making a fabulous week of celebration as we welcome our Euro friends to take part and enjoy! Keep track of the latest here

Eye-popping Places

Nudist Beach at Kralingse Plas

If you like to take nature in your stride and bear all to the elements then get yourself in the buff to the nudist beach at Kralingse Plas: a little beach in the woods at Kralingse Bos surrounded by trees. A great place to relax.

Gaysauna Finland
Steamy windows and some rainbow fun are on offer at the confusingly named Gaysauna Finland. Ramp up the heat with this fun for all sauna – expect whirlpools, hot tubs and a dinner and drinks option! Weekends up until 2am, week days open until midnight.

Ferry Store
If you're looking for an arty spot in Rotterdam then check out the Ferry Store for an art gallery, book store, gift shop and cafe all-in-one. With an original selection of photography, art, film and literature; this is a great creative space to enjoy a light bite to eat too.  

Best Bars and Late Night

Rotterdammers like to party and the gay scene here is a lively one. Check out these hip and friendly places to hit the sweet spot.
Café De Unie is a local treasure housed in a modernist building that survived the WWII bombing. With a great ambience and social history, this has been a favourite place to hang out for everyone since the 1920s: expect food, cocktails, music, and some spankingly good parties. Keerweer Café is another cabaret spot for some cosy and camp performances. With a penchant for Drag, expect these shows to be a riot of fun; it’s a favourite local spot for an end of the night last drink and some light entertainment. Bonaparte is a straight up gay bar with a great selection of drinks and drag, served from 10pm to 6am. Café Strano is more of a dress to impressive trendy spot with a cocktail crowd. They are open late, so slip in here for an aperitif in their modern bar or swing by later for a dance on their well-heeled dancefloor.  

Head to the 10th floor of Maassilo for Now and Wow Club and some dancing fever. This place wows with electronic music but also hosts some special events and is a platform for up and coming artists. Performance Bar is a late night find which as the name suggests, focuses on artists, painters, and mixed media to make the night go with a bang. Expect an immersive and disruptive experience which can range from outrageous to surreal. Something a little different!

For something a little different, check out De Regenboog- our famous gay bar boat that takes a spin around the waterways and even to Amsterdam. Get on board for some rainbow fuelled fun and find some mates. Ahoy there!

Where to Sleep

ROOM Rotterdam of course! Everyone is welcome, just bring yourself and a positive attitude and our house is your house. We have themed rooms, live music and events, and a friendly bar and café where you can get cosy. Book your bed here and enjoy what Rotterdam has to offer!