Words by: Sebastian Morgan
There’s something special about Pride events. Over the past two decades, as many parts of the world have become more open and inclusive, they’ve turned into perhaps the only annual celebration that allows for individual expression whilst also allowing visitors to a city to experience it in a unique way. Taiwan Pride which takes over the city every last weekend of October is no exception. What’s more, this year’s edition is the one to be at. (Read also: Pride Hopping this Fall? Here’s Why Taiwan Should Be Your First and Only Stop)
Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in 2019
First, a quick recap on why 2019 is so special. Earlier this year, Taiwan passed Asia’s first ever same-sex marriage law. This was after almost two years of nail-biting uncertainty and fierce opposition from a marginal group of anti-LGBTQ organisations.
It was a landmark event, and not only because thousands across the country could finally marry the people that they loved. It was a bold statement to the rest of Asia and the rest of the world—homosexuality is not cultural, and it has a deserved place in every society.
5 ways to celebrate Taiwan Pride
So, Taiwan Pride 2019 is history in the making, but it’s not all about the parade. How can you make the most of both the experience and your trip to the island? With knowledgeable LGBTQ-friendly guides and private-to-small group sizes, MyTaiwanTour offers a uniquely local Pride experience that shows off the best of Taipei history, culture, drinking and dancing. There’s several different packages on the menu, all of which can be tailored to your liking. Here are our top five picks for a Pride weekend worth bragging about. (Read also: Ultimate Taipei LGBT Map)
1. Dig Beneath the Surface of Taipei’s Underground Art Scene
Ask around if you don’t believe us, Taipei has a reputation throughout Asia as a hub of queer culture and creativity. Experience the best of it by taking a customized tour through the maze of galleries and boutiques that make up Treasure Hill, Taipei’s charismatic art district.
Visit the Rabbit Temple, a secret Taoist shrine that is famous for blessing LGBTQ couples, and pay your respects to the long-eared deity before gearing up for some killer street snacks at Gonguan Night Market. (Read also: 10 foods you need to try in Taipei)
Then, sit down for a front row experience of the city’s live music scene at not one, but two favourite local haunts, live music venue The Witch House and drag institution, Belle Taipei.
2. Drink (And Eat!) Up Some Old World Culture in Taipei’s Oldest District
Extend your parade route with a tour through Daodacheng, the historical heart of the city, starting 5:30 pm from Beimen station. Join your local guide on a ramble down this nostalgic neighbourhood’s romantic red-brick lanes. (Read also: 15 suggestions for a day in Dadaocheng)
You’ll stop off at the Xia Hai City God Temple, home to Taipei’s resident “Cupid God,” before enjoying a private tea tasting at one of the city’s most established brewers. (Read also: Pursue Your Happiness: How You Can Pay Respects to Yue Lao, the God of Marriage and Love)
Taking in all that culture is hungry work, which is why next you’ll hit up Ningxia Night Market, which has been cooking up Taipei’s finest street eats for over a century.
Try fresh seafood, sweet treats, and traditional specialities by the Hakka people, Taiwan’s largest minority group. Then raise a glass at Red House, queer Taiwan’s favourite watering hole.
3. Werk Hard, Play Harder
Yes, you heard us. Taipei’s most established drag party is set to serve one of the most raucous Pride events of the year.
After following them and their party float as it slays its way down the pride parade’s south route (anchor’s away at 1:30pm on Ketagalan Boulevard), join up with MyTaiwanTour for a cheeky riverside sundowner and some killer street-food at Ningxia Night Market. (Read also: Seven Taiwan Night Markets Everyone Needs to Visit)
Then, it’s off to Werk’s official afterparty for a night of boozing, beats, and campy fun. With drag performances by the likes of Magnolia la Manga and resident queen Mangelica Blast already confirmed, this evening is set to be nothing short than…well…stunning!
4. Hit up LEZS’s Sweet After Party
Pride gets packaged as a bit of a guys’ game in many parts of the world. That’s not the case in Taipei. At CSPACE, join established queens of Taipei’s lesbian scene LEZS 女人國 at their fifteenth annual Pride after-party. This year, it’s a confection-inspired rave on the menu.
Dress code is rainbow candy “candid,” so come cute and colourful for a neon all-nighter of drag, house music and a surprise guest DJ.
5. Get Some R&R at Luxury Relaxation Tour
We all know that Taiwan pride is one big celebration, but perhaps raucous raves and street parties aren’t really your thing. If you’re looking for a really special, subdued way to make the most of the weekend, slip away from the crowds on Saturday afternoon and join your private tour guide for an authentic induction into Taipei’s legendary spa culture. (Read also: Five Taipei Spas Worth Visiting)
First off, enjoy a thermal dip into an authentic Japanese onsen, followed by a rooftop tipple against one of the best backdrops in the city. Follow that with foot massage by some of the best-trained hands in the city, and then either hit Belle Taipei for a live show or be whisked back to your hotel for some well-earned slumber—heavenly. (Read also: Five Best Places to Get a Foot Massage in Taipei)