Gay tourists flock to Pink Lake Festival
For the seventh year running, the sleepy Carinthian town of Velden hosts one of Europe's most charming - if low-key - gay festivals.
Originally developed by Carinthian tourism officials together with specialist gay marketing company Communigayte as a way to showcase the region, and earn some so-called "pink dollars", the festival has grown into a must-see event for Europe's elite gay scene.
Known as the Pink Lake festival, the event runs for four days at the end of August, with highlights including the Almdudler Trachtenparty - an event involving traditional leather pants (Lederhosen) and cross-dressing in Austrian Dirndls - as well as a lakeside beach club, a casino club night with DJs and dancers, and a variety of exclusive side events.
One thing that visitors won't see that features in many big city gay festivals is a parade. Instead, the Pink Lake festival is seen as an opportunity to party with other LGBT folk and their friends in a low-key atmosphere, without unwelcome stares from gawkers and straights.
Event organizer and co-founder of Communigayte Jeff Wahl says that Pink Lake is very different from the usual pride festivals or white parties in other European cities.
"Rather, Pink Lake is an international four-day event for the international LGBT community (and friends of the community). The event is held in a picturesque town in Austria, located directly on a turquoise lake at the foot of the Alps. The mixed crowd of international guests enjoy great parties, sports, swimming, relaxation, music and great food... and of course, each other’s company", he said.
He continued by mentioning that the event has grown organically since its inception seven years ago.
"Last year more than 4,500 hotel rooms were booked as a result of Pink Lake, with 800 to 1,200 people attending each nightly event. This event is remarkable and rather unique, in that all sorts of people not only attend, but also actually mix and talk and laugh with each other."
"You don’t have the attitude and posing often seen at larger events. Rather, everybody checks his or her attitude at the door, relaxes and has a great time!", he enthused.
This year, Pink Lake will be held from the 28th to the 31st of August.