Traveling on the EDGE: Where to Go in 2014, Spring
The second installment in a four-part series, EDGE's travel editor Matthew Wexler scopes out 12 months of adventure, relaxation and surprises for the LGBT jet setter.
Part One profiled Colorada, Vienna and Mexico. Part two continues the global journey as EDGE explores Madrid, England and the home of World Pride 2014 - Toronto, Canada.
APRIL -- MADRID
Spain's epicenter is a gay traveler's dream. Packed with a sizzling nightlife scene, the city also boasts more the 60 museums and over 1,000 weekly incoming flights from around the world. The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association hosts its annual convention in Madrid later this spring - a testament to the city's (and the country's) support of the LGBT community. Gay marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005.
"The IGLTA logo is a symbol of inclusion, an easily recognizable way for businesses to show they welcome LGBT travelers," says IGLTA President and CEO John Tanzella. "For many LGBT people in urban areas, particularly in North America and Europe, it's easy to take inclusiveness for granted, but visibility for gay tourism is still important. We have members in more than 75 countries who want to make the world safe and welcoming."
Location, Location, Location: The city center neighborhood of Chueca is where you’ll want to be for all the action, and since that doesn’t happen until after midnight, being close to your accommodations is a plus for when the night (or morning) winds down. The recently renovated Hotel Petit Palace Ducal Chueca offers a wide range of room options and is steps away from Gran Vía, which features grand architecture and shopping.
Drink, Sing and Dance: Even if your Spanish is limited to hola, show tunes are a universal language that most queers speak. Head to Bambalinas Bar to mingle with locals before heading to the ever-popular Rick’s. Early dawn is the best time to visit this popular Moroccan-inspired dance club, which keeps the beats throbbing until 5:30 a.m.
Day Trip: Spain’s rail infrastructure offers the ability to easily escape Madrid’s hustle and discover Old World charm. Hop on the train and head to Córdoba (a two-hour scenic ride) and discover the Great Mosque-Cathedral, an Andalusian horse show and plenty of affordable dining options featuring local tapas.
MAY -- ENGLAND
Create your own Downton Abbey experience with a bit of town and country. Gay marriage is slated to become legal in England and Wales as of March 29, so expect lots of gay flourishes this spring -- well, as much as British restraint will allow.
Town: For boutique luxury, stay at the Dukes London, a 90-room historic property and home of the famous "shaken, not stirred" martini coined by James Bond creator Ian Fleming. You’ll be only steps away from Buckingham Palace, but if you’re planning on taking the city by storm, pick up the London Pass for access to more than 60 attractions.
Country: Discover the gentle hillsides to the west of London and you may never want to leave. Thyme at Southrop Manor is an enchanting estate consisting of a small country-house hotel, bespoke cottages, medieval tithe barn and cookery school that draws on the bounty of the surrounding land. It is the perfect place to propose, get married or rediscover your love of nature.
Don’t Miss: The Chelsea Flower Show (May 20-24), presented by the Royal Horticultural Society, celebrates its 210th show this spring. This year’s commissioned gardens include the RBC Waterscape Garden - Embrace the Rain, which addresses global water issues, and the M&G Garden, inspired by the Persian concept of the Paradise Garden, among others.
JUNE -- TORONTO
June is the kickoff to Pride season, and there will be no better place to paint the world a rainbow than Toronto, which is hosting World Pride June 20 to 29. The city is expecting 1.2 million attendees for a weeklong bash that celebrates the history, courage and diversity of the LGBT community. Events include Pride, Dyke and Trans marches, a street fair, activism events and even a substance-free alternative space.
Walking Tour: All of that Pride celebration may leave you hungry for something more than a bump and grind. Join food experts on the city’s only chef-owned-and-operated food tour for a "Gaybourhood Gourmet" tour through the Church and Wellesley Village, where you’ll get a literal taste of Toronto’s LGBT cultural landscape.
Unwind: Celebrating can take its toll, which is all the more reason to book a treatment at the Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, ranked No. 1 on Travel + Leisure’s 2013 World’s Best Awards Top Hotel Spas Overall. The glass-enclosed suite offers stellar views of the city, but the Clarins men’s therapy menu (including the Blokes and Beer treatment) will leave a lasting impression.