Let’s face it: we’ve all had enough of 2020 and we need something to look forward to in 2021. Two Scandinavian cities – within a two-hour flight for most Europeans and direct flights from every region of the world – have just the answer.
For ten days in August, Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmö in Sweden will host WorldPride and EuroGames in a huge combined event called Copenhagen 2021. It’s the first time that the world’s most significant Pride has combined with Europe’s largest LGBTI+ multi-sport event.
Hosted by Copenhagen Pride and Pan Idræt – the Danish capital’s LGBTI+ sports association – and in cooperation with Malmö Pride, Copenhagen 2021 will combine extensive and exciting programming in arts and culture, human rights, sports, activism and – of course – the opportunity to party, dance, and set yourself free.
This is also the first time that WorldPride has taken place in two countries. The program opens with a Parade and concerts in Malmö, with nine nights of concerts in Copenhagen’s City Hall Square and the WorldPride Parade with hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators. All concerts and stages are free of charge, although some may be ticketed depending on the state of the pandemic at the time.
In Copenhagen, our culture team are curating four separate arts spaces including specific activities for children and families, young people, and a sensory space called ‘Arcadia’ with incredible sound, light and sensory installations. We’ll also have a space, Fluids, where all programming will be by and for women, trans and non-binary visitors. More than 100 events will be hosted by cultural partners including the National Museum, Royal Theatre, and Opera.
EuroGames will attract up to 6,000 athletes to competitive tournaments in 29 sports including badminton, ballroom dancing, diving, triathlon, volleyball and water polo. E-sport will be included in EuroGames for the first time, with Counter Strike and FIFA tournaments.
We’ll also be hosting public sports events, through the ‘Sports To The People’ program, allowing visitors and residents alike to try their hand – or feet – at more than 20 different activities including roller-skating, Drag Olympics, and skiing on Copenhagen’s dry slope.
Athletes, their friends and spectators alike can kick back and relax in our Sports Village on the vibrant waterside at Islands Brygge. The one-mile Pride Run from Islands Brygge to City Hall Square will deliver athletes to the EuroGames Opening Ceremony, with spectators and supporters lining the route.
But we’re not just creating an event for ten days next August; we want Copenhagen 2021 to have a lasting legacy for LGBTI+ people worldwide. As part of our EuroGames programming, we’ll host a Sports Leader Conference where we explore LGBTI+ participation in sports and look at how we can build on the success of campaigns – including Rainbow Laces – to enhance and strengthen inclusion in sport, especially for trans and non-binary athletes.
Creating a better future for all LGBTI+ people is also a core aim for our human rights program. The Human Rights Forum will be the world’s biggest LGBTI+ rights event of 2021, and possibly ever, with a three-day Human Rights Conference for 2,000 activists and campaigners from around the world, with keynote speeches from political and world leaders and the Patron of Copenhagen 2021, HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
Danish MPs will invite parliamentarians from around the world to a plenary at the Danish Parliament to talk about enhancing LGBTI+ equality worldwide, with a special focus on the Global South. In Malmö, a summit on refugees, borders and immigration will recognise the city’s strategic importance in the resettling of refugees from conflict zones in recent years. A five-day open-air democracy festival will allow visitors, activists and politicians to talk openly and freely about the challenges still faced by LGBTI+ people around the world.
And after all that serious business, we’ll need to let our hair down and celebrate how far we have come. Party and protest have gone hand-in-hand at Pride for 50 years, and at Copenhagen 2021 we’re making sure there are amazing parties for everyone to enjoy. Every night we will have inclusive Signature Parties at venues around both cities, open to everyone and with affordable ticket prices.
Concerts – featuring live music from the LGBTI+ community and acclaimed artists – will be taking place in Copenhagen and Malmö every night, and they will be free to attend. Copenhagen Pride’s world-famous Drag Night will certainly be one night you don’t want to miss.
And let’s not forget the diverse LGBTI+ bars that we have to offer. Street parties take over a large part of Copenhagen during Pride, and 2021 will be no different. The famous bars of Studiestræde and one of the world’s oldest LGBTI+ bars, Centralhjørnet, will keep the entertainment flowing every evening.
It’s by being immersed in our lively bar scene that visitors will see why Copenhagen has been voted the best city in the world to be LGBTI+. These are friendly and welcoming cities where equality is simply a way of life. Danes and Swedes are proud of their cities, their countries, and their cultures of openness and acceptance. And this is a long-standing culture; Copenhagen 2021 also marks the seventieth anniversary of the first gender confirmation surgery in the world, which took place in Denmark. It’ll be 88 years since homosexuality was decriminalised, and 32 years since the world’s first civil partnership took place at Copenhagen City Hall, the setting for the main square during Copenhagen 2021.
Away from the Copenhagen 2021 activities and the LGBTI+ scene, you’ll find amazing places to eat, shop and explore. There’s a beguiling charm that hooks you in and makes you want to explore more, and it’s one that’s kept me coming back here since I fell in love with it 15 years ago. Whether you want independent designers and clothes stores, or the latest in Scandinavian design to bring a bit of ‘hygge’ home with you, there are great finds to be had.
Whilst it’s true that the cost of living is higher in Scandinavia, visiting doesn’t need to break the bank. There’s lots of advice online on how to visit Copenhagen and Malmö on a budget, and you can get a decent meal in a restaurant for under €20 and you can find a good bottle of wine in a supermarket for under €8. And the size of the cities mean you don’t need to spend money on public transport.
For a capital city, Copenhagen is compact and remarkably easy to get around; you can walk the city centre from end to end in 30 minutes. It’s famous for its cycling culture and you can get anywhere in the city by bike in fifteen minutes. There’s a 24 hour Metro, and an extensive bus and train network, including across the iconic Øresund Bridge which connects Copenhagen and Malmö’s city centres in under 30 minutes. A ticket from the airport to Copenhagen Central Station costs around €5.
There are hotels for every budget and thousands of apartment rentals. You can find some great hotels at reasonable prices around Vesterbro and close to the harbour and the airport, and you could even stay in some of the beautiful countryside surrounding Copenhagen and Malmö or in one of the neighbouring towns or cities – none of which are more than 30 minutes away by train.
Of course, the shadow of the pandemic looms large over our planning for Copenhagen 2021. We are making various contingency plans and whilst our current expectation is for a full event but with COVID security measures in place, our experience with this year’s Global Pride and Copenhagen Pride gives us the ability to think about how we deliver WorldPride and EuroGames in the safest possible way. And whilst we hope it won’t be necessary, registration fees for our own events are fully refundable should we need to cancel because of the pandemic.
So as the nights draw in and you ponder wonder what next year will bring, consider a visit to Copenhagen and Malmö for WorldPride and EuroGames. We’ll be working hard to deliver an incredible event where #YouAreIncluded – and we don’t want you to miss it.
Copenhagen 2021 takes place from 12-22 August 2021. Visit copenhagen2021.com and connect on social media.
Steve Taylor is Director of Communications for Copenhagen 2021.