Tel Aviv readies for region’s largest gay pride parade

Major roads to be blocked for 20th annual parade Friday, expected to draw hundreds of thousands of revelers

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

Israelis take part the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, on Friday, June 9, 2017 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Israelis take part the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, on Friday, June 9, 2017 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Much of Tel Aviv will shut down on Friday as hundreds of thousands of Israelis are expected to flock to the streets to celebrate the city’s 20th annual Gay Pride Parade.

The parade is the region’s biggest gay pride event, showcasing Israel’s place as a rare beacon for LGBT rights in the Middle East.

The parade, expected to draw at least as many people as the 200,000 who attended last year’s event, is scheduled to take place from noon to 7 p.m.

The colorful parade will commence at Ben Zion Boulevard in southwestern Tel Aviv, and proceed to the beachfront, along Bograshov, HaYarkon, Frishman, and Herbert Samuel streets before concluding at Charles Clore Park, where a party is to be held into the evening.

A map showing the route of the 20th annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, taking place on June 8, 2018, as published by police. (Screenshot/Google)

Many of Tel Aviv’s largest streets will be blocked to traffic starting at 8:30 a.m., including along Allenby, King George, Hashmonaim, and Ben Yehuda streets.

Police said hundreds of officers and volunteers will be dispatched along the parade’s route and around the gathering areas to secure the revelers, direct traffic, and maintain public order.

The police statement also said no weapons will be allowed into the parade area. Glass bottles, bicycles, animals, and drones will similarly be banned.

Various artists will perform during the parade, including singers, bands, and drag artists. One of the main shows will be by Netta Barzilai, the Israeli winner of the 2018 Eurovision song contest.

In 2017, the Tel Aviv Pride Parade was briefly held up when pro-Palestinian protesters blocked the route.

Other Israeli cities are also planning pride parades over the summer, including Jerusalem, where the heavily secured event has grown in recent years.

Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.

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