WorldPride and EuroGames Happening in Scandinavia with COVID-19 Safety Precautions

by Kelsy Chauvin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday May 27, 2021
Originally published on May 18, 2021

Malmö Pride 2018
Malmö Pride 2018  (Source:Andreas Paulsson)

In a year when the world seems ready to celebrate, Copenhagen 2021 is prepared to launch. Together with the Swedish city of Malmö, the Danish capital will host WorldPride and EuroGames this Aug. 12-22.

The extraordinary LGBTQ event marks the first time both international festivals will join in one destination. But with COVID-19 still a significant health and safety concern, Copenhagen 2021 organizers are forced to make substantial changes to in-person and digital event plans after the Danish government extended restrictions that continue through August.

"After five years of planning, we are, of course, disappointed to have to make the decision to scale back some of our events," said Benjamin Hansen, executive managing director of Copenhagen 2021. "But the safety of everyone has to be our highest priority, and we have worked with our safety company to create a meaningful and safe WorldPride and EuroGames experience for everyone."

WorldPride, a biannual celebration of equality and diversity, was last held in New York in 2019.

This year, the 10-day event brings an array of themed concerts, arts and cultural events, parties, family activities, and more to Copenhagen and Malmö from Aug. 12 to 22. Because the two cities are just 30 minutes apart via the Øresund Bridge, attendees can easily join various events across the two nations.

With them comes the Human Rights Forum from Aug. 17 to 22, a conference welcoming politicians, activists, media, government officials and the general public. The Forum includes a Global Interparliamentary Plenary Assembly at Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the Danish Parliament. More than 200 officials from around the world will convene to broaden awareness of LGBTQ issues and form action strategies to bring home.

Live + Digital Pride

This year, the pandemic is changing the scope of some WorldPride and EuroGames events to accommodate social distancing and other COVID-related requirements, including shifting some events online and reimagining in-person events in both cities.

While Copenhagen 2021 was initially expected to draw one million visitors, international travel restrictions and public reluctance to travel and join large events will reduce attendance. Organizers had hoped that rapidly growing COVID-19 vaccinations would inspire more Europeans and travelers from overseas to attend, but in May, the Danish government decided on a cautious approach for the sake of public safety.

On the bright side, planners are implementing more digital broadcasts that can be viewed by a global online audience.

One major change is the canceled WorldPride Parade, which was to take place on Aug. 21. Instead, several activism-led "Protest Walks" are planned, replacing the traditional large-scale celebration with several smaller marches on various routes that comply with capacity restrictions.

Another key change is replacing the Pride stage in Copenhagen's main square with a park viewing, where 5,000 seated guests can enjoy concerts and other performances live-streamed from smaller, indoor venues.

More than 50 cultural partners will host events throughout Copenhagen and Malmö (though Swedish authorities will determine their own COVID-related protocols). They include art, theater, and other exhibits taking place at major institutions such as the Royal Danish Theatre, Royal Library, Nationalmusee and the ultra-modern Royal Danish Opera House.

International travelers are encouraged to attend the Copenhagen 2021 festivities. However, Denmark will only allow visitors to enter the country with individual proof of vaccination, recent positive antibody test, or recent negative COVID test. Organizers have also budgeted for on-site virus testing, though details are still being coordinated while European Union health officials continue to monitor COVID cases and vaccination progress.


Twenty-nine sports events will be included in this year's EuroGames.
Twenty-nine sports events will be included in this year's EuroGames.  (Source: Kelly Hansen)

Aug. 18-20, the EuroGames will bring 29 different sports tournaments to Copenhagen and Malmö. Thousands of athletes are expected to participate, with registration open through July 12.

"It's the biggest EuroGames there's ever been," says Steve Taylor, Copenhagen 2021's communications director. "Twenty-nine different sports tournaments is really ambitious and incredible."

Between the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, athletes will compete in a range of competitions, including familiar sports like diving, tennis, volleyball and figure skating. Other tournaments headed to Copenhagen 2021 are ballroom and line dancing, artistic swimming, dodgeball, roller derby and Esports (video games).

Around town, "Sports to the People" invites residents and visitors to drop in and participate in sports like Drag Olympics, family sports, city-wide roller skating, skiing on the Copenhagen ski slope, and more.

Meanwhile, the Sports Leader Conference will add another dimension to the program that focuses on the inclusion and expansion of LGBTQ sports.

Throughout the EuroGames, Sports Village will host competitions and serve as a viewing plaza for live and broadcasted events. Visitors can socialize, dance, and explore the waterfront area of Islands Brygge Havnepark, just next to the Copenhagen Harbour Baths, which is open daily for swimming and sunbathing.

"I've been to many WorldPrides and many EuroPrides, but I've never seen sport really integrated — and yet most LGBTI+ people have an interest in sports," says Taylor. "I'm looking forward to seeing the way we bring these two events together, also the way that we bring the two cities together.

"Because it's not just two cities, it's two countries," says Taylor. "It's two slightly different cultures that we bring together, which I think is really exciting."


Copenhagen 2021 will embrace its theme, #YouAreIncluded, across social media. Organizers invite LGBTQ people worldwide to participate in a global campaign designed to shine a light on discrimination based on sexuality, gender identity, race, religion, appearance, economic status, nationality, refugee status, health, HIV status — or any other factor.

"We're asking people everywhere in the world to tell us what it would take for them to feel included," says Taylor. "We'll publish every response on an interactive map [and across social media]. That will really frame the Human Rights Forum by bringing real peoples' experiences and voices here so that we can amplify them in August."

To share thoughts on what #YouAreIncluded means to you in your town or city, school or college, workplace, at home, walking down the street, or elsewhere, complete this form, available in 13 languages. Your answer might be shared with global leaders and politicians to help them better understand the LGBTQ community and individual needs.

Another milestone comes with this year's event. For the first time, a member of the Danish royal family will officially stand up for the rights of the LGBTQ community. Her Royal Highness, the Crown Princess of Denmark, will serve as patron of Copenhagen 2021.

Taylor says there's an unparalleled slate of fun, enriching activities ahead for Copenhagen 2021, which will be more accessible and diverse than any prior WorldPride event.

"Denmark and Sweden are incredibly welcoming and friendly places," says Taylor. "And the cities are also small; what you'll get in Copenhagen and Malmö is a strong sense of community. You can walk from one end to the other in 20 minutes in each city. So, wherever you go, you'll run into WorldPride or EuroGames events taking place. And it will have that real Scandinavian feel of welcoming you into two of the happiest countries in the world."

Kelsy Chauvin is a writer, photographer and marketing consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in travel, feature journalism, art, theater, architecture, construction and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @kelsycc.