The Town Hall Square is Copenhagen’s iconic square and was one of the focal points for Copenhagen 2021. Renamed as WorldPride Square, it was open every day from Friday 13 to Saturday 21 August and was built as a lounge area with chairs, tables, bars, food carts, etc. and a center stage. We had:
- bars and wine bars that served a wide range of drinks, including our own wine brand.
- a street food market with tasty and innovative cuisine from Copenhagen food carts.
- Livestream performances and debates from our other venues on the big screen
- live performances / talks / interviews in Pride Studio
- live music and DJ set, bingo, garden party and a celebration of Copenhagen Pride’s 25th anniversary.
- information points together with merchandise shop and activities with our partner hummel and stands from civil society organisations and companies.
- ‘All Out’ photo exhibition of images depicting how the LGBTI + community got through the pandemic. This was the first physical exhibition of the images following a virtual launch in Times Square, New York
Due to pandemic restrictions, we had to rethink WorldPride Square from the beginning in early July, but even though we had a very short time to create a new stage, there was a lot of support from the audience – far greater than we had dared to hope for. During the day there was a good cozy atmosphere, where many met with friends and acquaintances, as well as met new people, while in the evening there was entertainment, DJs and performances.
We estimate that 75,000-100,000 visitors joined us in WorldPride Square during the event. Visitor numbers ranged from 2,000-5,000 daily on week days, and up to 20,000 daily on weekends.
WorldPride Parade and Marches
A mandatory element of a WorldPride is a political march with the participation of activists, civil society organizations, international guests and everyone else who wants to participate in the celebration and celebration of equal rights and opportunities for LGBTI + people.
The march is a highlight in a WorldPride celebration and also at WorldPride in Copenhagen the planning of the WorldPride march had high priority and we had an expectation that we would break all frameworks for previous marches in Copenhagen, both in terms of number of participants and the amount of spectators.
The starting point was to follow the usual route from Frederiksberg to Copenhagen, but to move the assembly area to the streets at Aksel Møllers Have, to have better space for all participants and ensure a convenient start of the march. On Vesterbrogade at the intersection of Hammerichsgade, a grandstand with seating was to be set up, so that the international guests could be escorted directly from the parade to have the opportunity to see the parade.
As the situation developed during April and May 2021, regarding pandemic restrictions, it became increasingly uncertain whether it would be possible to complete the march in the planned form. This assessment was based in part on considerations of legality – that is, what restrictions would be in force at the time we had to phase them out – and not least on integrity – that is, how we could act in a way that of the general public and not least of the LGBTI + community would be considered responsible and fair.
The issue of integrity was further complicated by the fact that we would no doubt be able to carry out a march as planned – no matter what restrictions may exist on 21 August, as long as our march is recognized as a political manifestation and as such would be exempt from restrictions.
So while the march itself could be carried out and that it would be within the limits of what was allowed, there was further concern that any organizer of events that attracted the audience in large numbers was then legally responsible for it and the crowd that the event gave rise to and in that connection we had to comply with the assembly restrictions. We therefore felt it was impossible to hold the usual ‘open’ march without barriers, as it would make us responsible for any spread of infection among spectators.
We had to consider our reputation publicly as a responsible and caring organization. If we deliberately went up to (or in the opinion of some, over) the limit of what was considered sensible and considerate and ended up as a so-called ‘super-spreading’ event, the argument that we were in our good right to hold the march would be irrelevant, as it would be the consequence and not the intention that the critique would focus on. Thus, there was no agreement between what was legal and what would be perceived as responsible or ethical.
In addition to the Opening Parade at Malmö Stadium, the solution was to hold six smaller WorldPride Marches, each with its own starting area, each with its own route and arrival at Fælledparken at different times. In Fælledparken, three separate sections had been created and here those who had joined together in the march would remain together in the same section, as every march participant would have a place in one of the three sections. That way, we wanted to avoid the confusion and inherent infection risk of large crowds.
The marches went from:
- WorldPride Square
- Højbro Plads
- Den Sorte Plads
Along all routes there was an audience, which indicates that they managed to still have great popular support, but at the same time by spreading the crowd across the city the infection pressure became less. We had approximately 12,000 participants in the Marches, and perhaps as many as 100,000 spectators.
The international Pride guests joined the march from WorldPride Square alongside the Prime Minister and Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, while EuroGames athletes joined the March departing from Churchill Park.
Copenhagen Pride & All Out March for Hungary and Poland
On Saturday 14 August, approximately 200 activists from across Europe joined a march that departed from the Hungarian Embassy and made its way the two kilometres to the Polish Embassy, 8km north of Copenhagen. This was organised in partnership with All Out, to highlight the worsening situation for LGBTI+ people in both countries.
Speakers at the rally outside the Hungarian Embassy included Viktória Radványi of Budapest Pride and Matt Beard of All Out, and outside the Polish Embassy speakers included Nina Matusik, a member of the Copenhagen Pride board who has Polish heritage, and Lars Henriksen.
KB Hallen served as an indoor concert venue. Our consideration was that even if we fenced off an area in the urban space as a concert venue and held the concerts, we would be responsible for guests who crowded outside the fence to hear artists, and with names like Todrick Hall and Mø, we had to expect that quite a few guests would gather if they gave a concert in the open urban space. Therefore, it was decided to move the majority of the live concerts indoors, where we could control Coronapas and where the guests sat down, and then broadcast them live to Fælledparken. All concerts were also broadcast live via social media and elements have since been posted online for re-viewing, although some artists did not allow their performances to be streamed or for them to be posted online in perpetuity.
The originally planned nine outdoor concerts were also reduced to four to ensure that we had the finances to deliver the double production.
KB Hallen worked fine for the purpose, and considering the restrictions, there was plenty of toilet and bar capacity. Overall, we had also wanted more audiences.
Our technical team did well and we got, albeit quite late in the process, a sound technician on the transmitted live sound to Fælledparken, so our live streaming worked smoothly.
We did not have the great need for volunteers in KB Hallen, as they had their own bar staff. Security was a relatively simple task as our security for the entire event was also the preferred partner at the location, which is why the collaboration went smoothly.
Both before and after the pandemic restrictions became a reality, our goal was to have as high a representation of LGBTI+ artists as possible, as well as to ensure that there was a geographical distribution that reflected the international character of the event. Our goal was 75% of the total line-up were self-identified LGBTI+ artists, and after narrowing the total line-up and having to cancel bookings of artists who due to travel restrictions could not travel to Copenhagen, we ended up with about 95% representation by LGBTI+ artists.
The travel restrictions had to be considered in the international bookings, which meant that there were artists who either could not be booked or who had to be canceled. We chose to keep three theme nights out of the nine we had already planned: Under the Rainbow, Drag Night and Closing Ceremony, as well as the opening ceremony for EuroGames.
Our previous experience is clearly based on the outdoor concerts that we have held over many years. An indoor concert has a completely different dynamic – and especially when the audience is forced to sit down during the entire concert.
- Opening Ceremony and Opening Show for EuroGames, Wednesday 18 August (See the section on EuroGames)
- Under The Rainbow, Thursday 19 August
The indoor format meant the show turned out to be too long and it didn’t draw enough audiences the first few hours. However, there was a really good atmosphere in the last half of the show, even though it was not sold out.
The line-up consisted of artists from one of the canceled evenings, Danish and international:
- Jean Michel
- Ivy Rosenauer
- Theo X
- Matias Vestergaard
- Rebecca Lou
- Princess Nokia
- Drag Night Friday 20 August 2021
Drag Night has become a kind of signature night for Copenhagen Pride and is one of the world’s biggest drag shows, which draws a large audience every year. So too this year, when it was clearly an evening that people had been looking forward to and booked tickets for well in advance; tickets sold out quickly. There was a good atmosphere throughout, seen by a global audience online thanks to our partnership with Time Out magazine who streamed the event globally. The line-up consisted of:
- Megan Moore
- Bobby Bitchslap
- Notorious Nicki
- Adriana La’crème
- Diana Diamond
- Paloma Negra
- Foxxy Femme
- Mizz Privileze
- Adam All
- Annie Rection
- Britney Corvette
- Di Di Cancerella
- Luke Ravens
- Vinegar Strokes
- Karli Kuff
- Les Kweens
- Betty Bitchslap
- Zaddy Salem
- Closing Ceremony, Saturday 21 August 2021
Our Closing Ceremony was very long for an indoor format. We tried to take into account both Fælledparken and KB Hallen, but it was a big task to put together a program that could work both at our indoor concert venue, as well as outdoors. With high sun and popular outdoor venues, KB Hallen became the place that drew the shortest straw. The audience, which for the most part had participated in the marches, showed up late in KB Hallen and some chose to stay away completely. The pandemic restrictions had required that tickets could only be booked in advance, so it was not possible to have the available seats reserved at the door. However, there was a really good atmosphere at both locations.
- Cantus Obliqius
- Keep Dancing Inc.
- SARA JO
- Sander Sanchez
- Todrick Hall
The place: The site was divided into three sections – each containing:
- Two food stalls (capacity too small at 2,500 people per section)
1 bar (12 x 6 m. With 12 taps beer and 6 taps cider, 12 bartenders) – appropriate or slightly at the lower edge for maximum number of guests.
- Toilets: 25 pots and four urinals per. section
o A bit oversized, but nice for the guests that there was no queue
o Advantage: There was no peeing around the fences
o Disadvantage: Cost
Stage: 110 sqm triangular stage with three large screens of 52 sqm
Sound: DAB (scaled to 360 degree sound image)
Light: Standard festival light
- We generally had a shortage of volunteers. This meant that we had to hire staff for practical tasks. Especially at peak times, such as when the marches arrived at Fælledparken, or when main names went on, we were hugely pressured in the bars and in particular in food carts.
- There was professional security on site, who had prepared all security plans in conjunction with the police.
- The cooperation with the security officer on site worked flawlessly. We had meetings several times a day on all active days.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 7,500 people in three sections of 2,500.
Saturday: 10,000 people evenly distributed in the three sections.
Wednesday: EuroGames Opening Ceremony (see section on EuroGames)
Thursday: WorldPride Viewing Area
- Broadcast of live shows from KB Hallen
Friday: WorldPride Viewing Area
- Broadcast of Drag Show from KB Hallen
- Aqua live in Fælledparken
Saturday: World Pride Closing Ceremony
- DJ Wonder Boy
o HRH The Crown Princess of Denmark
o Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen
o Copenhagen’s Lord Mayor, Lars Weiss
o WorldPride to Syndey 2023
o EuroPride to Belgrade 2022
o EuroGames to Nijmegen 2022
- Broadcast of live shows from KB Hallen
- DJ / VJ Robin Skouteris
- Closing speech from Lars Henriksen, Copenhagen Pride, and Christian Bigom, Pan Idræt.
In connection with WorldPride, three official receptions were arranged for Danish and international guests.
The City of Copenhagen hosted a reception on Wednesday 18 August, where the city, led by Mayor Lars Weiss, welcomed the many foreign guests. The reception was held in the City Hall and was initially approved for 2000 guests. Under the restrictions as they stood in June / July, this number was reduced to 200. These guests were selected as almost exclusively international guests and we tried to ensure that one person per organisation was invited. However, this was made more difficult by the fact that the two owners’ associations shared the amount of guests between them. Therefore, the relief was great when, under the relaxed restrictions, on 17 August, we were allowed to increase the number of guests to 500. In a hurry, another 300 invitations were sent out to international guests and to Danish LGBTI+ organisations.
The speakers at the event were Lord Mayor Lars Weiss; Chairperson of Pan Idræt, Christian Bigom; Chairperson of Copenhagen Pride, Lars Henriksen; Co-President of InterPride, Hadi Damien; President of the European Pride Organisers Association, Kristine Garina; and Co-Presidents of EGLSF Hugh Torrance and Sarah Townsend. The guest of honour was HRH The Crown Princess of Denmark.
In the City Hall, which was decorated with the original 30m long Gilbert Baker flag from 1993 (loaned by the European Pride Organisers Association) in the ceiling and rainbow flags in every other pole around the hall, was also exhibited the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress and an exhibition from the Copenhagen City Archives and the Marriage Office about the registered partnership history at Copenhagen City Hall.
The entertainment was provided by UKULELLA – a lesbian, Icelandic ukulele ensemble. In addition, photography of HRH The Crown Princess was arranged with representatives of Sydney WorldPride 2023.
After the speeches, there was a general reception atmosphere, and the city hosted City Hall pancakes and accompanying drinks.
On Thursday 19 August, the Danish government held a reception at Hotel Admiral for about 150 guests. The government was responsible for the guest list for the reception, with input from Copenhagen 2021. The government’s focus was to a large extent that the guest list should be a combination of representatives from Danish organizations in a mix with international guests, which reflected the event’s international profile. The limitation on numbers naturally presented a challenge, and collectively Copenhagen 2021 and the government were thus extra attentive in relation to diversity and representation. As organisers of WorldPride, we submitted, by appointment, a list of 60 names who were invited. This list consisted of 100% international guests.
The host of the reception was Minister for Gender Equality Peter Hummelgaard, who spoke on behalf of the government, while Lars Henriksen, chairperson of Copenhagen Pride, spoke on behalf of WorldPride.
As tradition dictates during a WorldPride, all Pride delegates gather for a WorldPride reception whose hosts are InterPride, as well as the holding and upcoming WorldPride host city, as well as if WorldPride is in Europe and thus also a EuroPride, EPOA and the upcoming EuroPride host city. In the case of Copenhagen, Sydney and Belgrade co-hosted the reception together with Copenhagen and InterPride.
The reception, which had 700 guests, was held on Friday 20 August in the amusement park Tivoli in the heart of Copenhagen. Rosenhaven up against the concert hall was closed off to the guests, who thus got a sense of the park while the reception took place.
Speakers at the reception were Co-President of InterPride Hadi Damien; WorldPride Committee Chair Rahul Upadhyai; President of the European Pride Organisers Association, Kristine Garina; CEO of WorldPride Sydney, Kate Wickett; Director of EuroPride Belgrade Marco Mihailovic; and Chairperson of Copenhagen Pride, Lars Henriksen.
During the reception, DJ Simon Witzansky played. It was decorated with items from Tivoli’s warehouse that guests could take photos with and there was access to Tivoli’s aquarium. The entrance ticket also included that all guests had the opportunity to stay in Tivoli and explore the garden. On the lawn, in connection with the reception, there was a live concert with the Danish LGBTI + icon, Anne Linnet. There should have been a concert with the international icon Grace Jones, but due to the pandemic, this performance was replaced with a Danish name.
All international WorldPride guests, incl. everyone who attended scholarships was invited and the reception was attended by over 70 countries.
In addition to the above receptions, a number of embassies also held receptions on the occasion of WorldPride:
• On Monday 16 August, there was a reception in the garden of the British Ambassador’s residence. The reception was co-hosted by the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and British Embassies.
• On Monday 16 August, the Dutch embassy hosted a reception on the occasion of the installation of The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress at Copenhagen City Hall
• On Tuesday 17 August, there was a reception at the Belgian Embassy. The hosts were the Belgian Ambassador and the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister, Petra de Sutter.
• On Friday 20 August, the Bureau of the Folketing hosted a reception for international parliamentarians and elected representatives who had attended the interparliamentary plenary session.
At Rainbow Square, a 500 sqm Hospitality tent had been erected to which all accredited guests had access. In the tent there was free serving of drinks and offers of free food, which was provided by our catering partners.
The tent had two primary purposes, partly to ensure that all our guests, and here especially those who were here on scholarships from countries with a lower average income than Denmark, had access to food and drink without having to consider whether they could afford it.
Partly to facilitate as easy access as possible to international meetings and networking opportunities. A WorldPride is a big event and one can easily disappear into the crowd. By ensuring that everyone who was accredited had access to the hospitality tent, there was an obvious meeting place and the opportunity to create new networks across.
The tent was open daily from 10-23.
In collaboration with Clio, we prepared the teaching material “What is your Pride?” for the oldest classes of the primary school in Denmark.
The purpose was to inform about the Pride movement and our history in a way that is relevant to all students, and at the same time inspire young people to engage in democracy as activists or advocates for issues that are close to them. In the communication, emphasis has been placed on sharpening the students’ source-critical sense.
The material uses the story of the Pride movement exemplary as the story of a group of people who, faced with discrimination, decided to actively do something to change their situation. The Pride movement is thus not the focal point – it is the active commitment to democracy and society.
After learning about the Pride Movement, students are encouraged to consider when they themselves are experiencing redress or discrimination and to take a stand on what would be important enough for them to do something active to change it. There are also creative courses on campaign preparation, message formulation and much more.
The material is freely available on Clio’s website, and is not behind any kind of payment wall. It can be downloaded by any teacher who wants to use it. It is also posted on the City of Copenhagen’s learning portal.