The Midsummer Canal festival is no longer a ‘gay culture festival’ since 2013. Utrecht and the surrounding area are more colorful and diverse than what you might think based on the term ‘gay’. We therefore celebrate the festival with our motto:
All generations celebrate diversity together
In 1997 Midzomergracht festival started as a two-day event to introduce Utrecht to the many beautiful sides of gay culture. Immediately it turned out that Midsummergracht also started outside the city of Utrecht. Thousands of people came from all over the country to the Oudegracht, where the spectacle took place on and around the medieval yards. Reason enough to give Midsummergracht a national design in the following years. Utrecht firmly put itself on the Dutch ‘rainbow card’.
As of 1999 Midzomergracht became a one-week cultural festival. That year the festival started with a Mega Pann party and an international volleyball tournament. It ended with a classic open-air concert and the traditional Midzomergracht Show. In between there was a literary evening, a film festival, a Master Class and a congress, an open stage, a historic pink city walk and various sports competitions. In the years that followed, the program of the festival was expanded.
May 5th 2002 Stichting de Overkant, the volunteer organization behind Midzomergracht festival, received the Tolerance Prize of the city of Utrecht – a serious milestone and a recognition for increasing tolerance towards homosexual men and women. The Tolerance Prize was awarded by the then mayor of Utrecht, Mrs. A.H. Brouwer-Korf.
In 2005 Stichting De Overkant drew up a vision document: ‘Diversity as a motive’. A highlight of the week, the freely accessible spectacular festival in the open air, took place around a bridge over the Oudegracht. In 2008 a trip was made to the also attractive square near the Jacobi church, but after that the tradition of celebrating parties together on the canal was restored.
In 2016 the jubilant Midzomergracht festival and COC Midden-Nederland joined forces for a first Utrecht Walk of Love. Together we celebrated not only the 20th edition of the festival, but also the sexual diversity and gender diversity, by walking through the city with the largest rainbow flag of the Netherlands.
On 17th June 2017 the Utrecht Canal Pride Foundation added a new chapter to the festival. During the ten-day Midzomergracht festival they organized a very successful first boat parade through the historical Utrecht canals. The event attracted more than 25,000 visitors. Mayor Jan van Zanen: “a new tradition is born”.
In 2018 Midzomergracht festival is an indispensable part of Utrecht. Volunteers still organize and facilitate ten days full of exhibitions, workshops, theater, lectures, literary meetings, debate, party, film, sports, music and much more. All this, hand in hand with the rainbow organizations and encouraged by Utrechters and Utrechtenaren.