Pride on points: How to celebrate Pride in 6 international cities using points and miles
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Pride month is in full swing and while we’ve shown you how to do Pride on points in the U.S., there are lots of events planned internationally. We know how much you’re all eager to travel abroad, especially those of you who have been vaccinated recently. What better way to end a year stuck at home than to attend a Pride event – a celebration of freedom, sacrifice and joy.
We’ve rounded up ways to book airfare and hotels to Pride festivals around the world. Keep in mind that while these events have been scheduled, we live in unpredictable times. Things may get canceled and moved to a virtual format, so keep an eye out for announcements before and after you book your travel. Also, award rates in dynamically-priced programs may be different by the time you book.
Without further ado, here are six international cities offering in-person Pride events and how you can get there on points.
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Paris (June 26, tentative)
Looking for a last-minute international pride event? Look no further than Paris Pride on June 26.
France recently reopened to international tourists from most countries. Americans can visit so long as they’re vaccinated against COVID-19 or possess a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen). You can read more about the entry process in our full guide to entering France as an American.
2021 marks Paris Prides’ post-pandemic return. You can expect a parade this year and events around the city that extend into July. However, it is worth noting that this year’s Paris Pride will operate without floats or a podium. Regardless, expect a day of equality advocacy, visibility and fun. The route will take parade-goers from Pantin to the Place de la République, via avenue Jean Jaurès, the rue Lafayette and boulevard Magenta.
You’ll have to book tickets fast if you plan on attending Paris Pride. You’ll find Air France award tickets from New York-JFK to Paris (CDG) the week of Paris Pride for as little as 44,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip, plus roughly $220 in taxes and fees. You can transfer Amex, Capital One, Citi, Chase and Marriott points to Flying Blue.
Keep an eye out for cheap cash tickets too. You can book a United round-trip ticket from Newark (EWR) to Paris at the end of the month for $635 in basic economy. If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, you can redeem just 42,334 points for the ticket through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.
Paris is home to countless hotels in all the major loyalty programs. You can use your World of Hyatt points to book iconic properties like the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome and Hotel du Louvre or newer concepts like the Hyatt Paris Madeleine. Whatever you choose, you’ll be close to the parade’s starting point via the Paris Metro. You can transfer Chase points to World of Hyatt.
Or, you can use Marriott Bonvoy points (or free night certificates) to book a handful of properties. Many have already sold out, but the Renaissance Paris Republique Hotel can be booked for 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. This puts you close to where the parade ends, so you can avoid expensive Ubers and crowded Metro rides.
Finally, those with IHG Rewards points may opt to use their points to stay at the Crowne Plaza Paris Republique. 25,000 IHG points will get you a free night at the hotel, just down the street from where the parade ends. There are other IHG properties scattered around Paris with openings too.
Madrid Pride (June 28-July 7, 2021)
Spain has officially reopened to fully vaccinated American tourists so you can safely book your trip to Madrid Pride. While there will be festivities from June 28 (International Pride Day) to July 4, the main event will be on Saturday, July 3.
The majority of activities will be held in the Chueca neighborhood, but there will festivities across the entire city. Expect concerts and shows in Plaza de Pedro Zerolo, Plaza del Rey, Puerta del Sol and Puerta de Alcalá. The parade will go from Atocha (Paseo del Prado next to the Botanical Gardens) to Colón.
There are nonstop flights to Madrid (MAD) from most major U.S. airports, such as Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA) and New York-JFK, as well as lots of connecting options.
The cheapest option is often directly through Spain’s flag carrier, Iberia. Flights from the U.S. East Coast to Spain can be booked as few as 17,000 miles one-way in economy and 34,000 in business class during some parts of the year. However, because Madrid Pride falls under “peak” dates, you’ll be paying at least 20,000 miles in economy or 50,000 in business class, which is still pretty good.
There’s plenty of last-minute award availability for economy, though business class is hard to find. If you find flights that work for you, you can transfer points to Iberia from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy.
Alternatively, because cash fares are so low right now, it could be worth redeeming your points directly through Chase’s travel portal. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points at a fixed 1.5 cents each through the portal, while those with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card can redeem at 1.25 cents each. So, if the cash fare for the flight you want is $500, for instance, you’ll pay about 33,000 points total with the Sapphire Reserve. Plus, you’ll earn frequent flyer miles and elite-qualifying credit for your flights.
If you want to stay near all of the action, you’ll want to book a hotel in or near the Chueca neighborhood. That said, it’s extremely easy to get around the city by foot, bike or public transport so don’t worry if your hotel is a bit further away.
Marriott Bonvoy offers options for everyone. If you’re on a budget, you can book the Aloft Madrid Gran Via for 25,000 points per night. Some nicer options include The Westin Palace, Madrid for 50,000 points per night and Hotel Palacio Del Retiro, Autograph Collection for 60,000 points per night. Marriott also has several properties that are already sold out.
If you’re looking to redeem World of Hyatt points, three hotels are available: the Hyatt Regency Hesperia Madrid for 15,000 points per night, the Hyatt Centric Gran Via Madrid for 20,000 points per night and the Urso Hotel & Spa, Madrid for 25,000 points per night. The Urso Hotel is part of Hyatt’s partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), so you’ll get perks like free breakfast, early check-in, late check-out and a room upgrade even if you don’t have elite status.
IHG fields some more budget-friendly options. There are two Hotel Indigos you could stay at and one Holiday Inn. There’s the Hotel Indigo Madrid Gran Via from around 23,000 points per night, Hotel Indigo Madrid Princesa from 15,000 points and the Holiday Inn Madrid Piramides from 12,000 points. Of the three, the Hotel Indigo Madrid Gran Via is located closest to the festivities.
With Hilton, your only option is the Atocha Hotel Madrid, Tapestry Collection by Hilton as the nearby DoubleTree is sold out. It’s a beautiful, modern hotel, but at 65,000 points per night, the rate is much higher than usual.
Keep in mind, depending on the hotel program, your status and what credit cards you have, you may be able to get a fourth or fifth night free when redeeming points on longer stays.
Amsterdam (Aug. 6-8, 2021)
While the Netherlands is still closed right now to American tourists right, we do know the European Union will reopen to fully vaccinated American tourists this summer. So it seems like a nice hedged bet that if you’re American, you will be able to attend Amsterdam pride.
Amsterdam’s pride features a citywide celebrated festival that is widely regarded as one of the largest pride festivals celebrated in the world, with hundreds of thousands flocking to the city each year. The peak of the festival happens to line up with the ‘Canal Parade’ this year, so you can get to experience special celebrations in one. Amsterdam’s pride festival this year features street parades, a canal parade, an open-air cinema, along with 300+ other events!
There are tons of options to get to Amsterdam on points. Being a KLM and SkyTeam hub, the first place to look is with Virgin Atlantic flying club. Just be mindful when using programs with stops, you may want to double-check you are avoiding countries like the United Kingdom or Germany that tend to have higher taxes on tickets.
If you don’t have many miles to pull from, Virgin Atlantic flying club may be a great choice, especially for those on the East Coast. Be mindful that you will be hit with taxes while stopping in London, but it’s nothing too heavy. Virgin Atlantic being a transfer partner of both Chase and American Express provides many options with wide-open availability. Upper Class is available but for 66,500 each way plus taxes.
Another great option is booking with Aviancas’s LifeMiles rewards program. With a 25% bonus from Capital One for a limited time, you can effectively earn 25% on all your tickets booked with points. This means you’ll only need 22,500 miles for a one-way economy ticket with United Airlines from plenty of destinations along the coast. A one-way ticket in business class is only 61,000 miles normally, which comes out to only 45,250 LifeMiles with the bonus. That’s a relatively good deal given the availability in August!
One of the last places you should always check, no matter what, is Chase’s travel portal. Using Chase’s travel portal allows you to accrue miles and status on your tickets booked with points. In this case, you can even elect for a stopover in Portugal now that they recently re-opened to Americans. Though not the best deal we have seen, it may be worth looking at, especially if you are chasing status in 2021.
Amsterdam is a city that is plentiful for hotel rewards. I would recommend checking your accounts to see if you have any current transfer bonuses when transferring points to hotel rewards programs. American Express is currently offering a 30% when transferring points to your Marriott Bonvoy account. While we don’t recommend this, it is a solid way to top off your account for an upcoming stay.
Marriott offers a great number of resorts not far from the action. If you are looking to use one of your 35k certificates, it may be worth staying closer to the airport as Amsterdam has a cheap train directly into the city center. If you can dish out a few extra points or have a 50k certificate, you have many options to choose from.
Hilton Honors has fewer options, but it would be a crime not to recommend you to the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, one of the best-regarded hotels in the Hilton network. While availability is limited, there is some scattered availability for 95,000 points a night with eligibility for space-available upgrades with status. If you are sitting on recently extended free night certificates from your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, it may be a great place to cash out.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
There are quite a few really great boutique hotels in Amsterdam that don’t operate under any large brand. A quick check of the Chase Travel Portal offers up some pretty slick deals on hotels that have you only feet from the action. Staying just feet from the canals of Amsterdam has been a bucket list adventure for me personally, so check out the portal for some great deals.
London (Sept. 11, 2011)
London’s 2021 Pride parade will take place the weekend of Sept. 11, 2011. The rest of the weekend will feature lots of fun and informative events, including advocacy forums, themed brunches, parties, speed dating sessions and more.
There are lots of cheap options to fly to London for Pride weekend, using points and miles. Hands down, the cheapest is using British Airways Avios for an economy class award out of the East Coast.
You’ll redeem just 13,000 miles and $64 on the outbound segment. That’s right, for about the cost of a domestic award ticket, you can fly from New York to London. British Airways classifies these tickets as off-peak, which explains the incredibly low redemption rate.
The return segment gets tricky because the taxes are much higher, so you’ll redeem 26,000 Avios and $320. While that may sound like a great deal, you can actually find SAS fares between Newark (EWR) and London (LHR) from just $326 that weekend.
I would book one of these fares, enjoy a stopover in Copenhagen and cover the cost with miles from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
London’s Pride parade will make its way through Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. Though a detailed route with a starting point hasn’t been announced, you can get close to the action by staying at Hyatt’s Great Scotland Yard Hotel for 25,000 points per night. Room rates during Pride weekend are well over $400 per night with taxes, making this a solid Hyatt redemption.
The nearby Waldorf Astoria is also a good choice. Room rates are over $400 per night with taxes. With award rates going for 80,000 points per night, you’re just under TPG’s 0.6 cent valuation for Hilton points.
The W London is also a good choice, being located to Soho’s LGBTQ. As a Category 7 hotel, rates range between 50,000-70,000 points per night. Unfortunately, the hotel is sold out for Pride weekend, but it’s definitely worth checking in a few weeks before the event to see if availability has opened up.
Taiwan Pride (Oct. 29-31)
Taiwan Pride is a multi-day event that features a parade on the last Saturday in October each year. Typically, rainbow bus tours with drag queens are scheduled to highlight key LGBT attractions in the city. And the Saturday parade typically starts at Taipei City Hall at 2 p.m. Parade attendees split into two groups that go on separate routes:
- North route: Taipei City Hall to Ren’ai Road to Dunhua South Road to Zhongxiao East Road to Yixian Road to Taipei City Hall
- South route: Taipei City Hall to Ren’ai Road to Guangfu South Road to Xinyi Road to Dunhua South Road to Ren’ai Road to Taipei City Hall
After parading through the streets, attendees usually arrive back at Taipei City Hall. There’s typically a stage with entertainment as well as stalls supporting gay charities and organizations. There are also generally other events and parties, including a Saturday night party at the W hotel.
Taiwan is currently closed to tourists; only travelers with a valid Alien Resident Certificate are allowed entry. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know whether Taiwan will reopen to tourists without a required quarantine period before Taiwan Pride. As such, you’ll want to make fully refundable travel plans if you don’t live in Taiwan. So, let’s consider how to get to Taiwan using miles and stay using points.
Typically, we’d recommend some of the best sweet spots in this section. But, since it’s unclear whether Taiwan will reopen in time for international tourists to attend Taiwan Pride, it’s best to use points you already have in your accounts with programs that offer minimal change or cancellation fees on awards. As such, in this section, we’ll focus on awards you can book using miles you may already have with three U.S. airlines.
First off, if you want to redeem Delta miles, there’s excellent award availability on some routes. For example, here’s a look at economy award availability between Atlanta and Taipei for a two-week trip around Taiwan Pride.
Here’s an example set of flights that you could book in economy class for 100,000 Delta miles plus $46.25 per person round-trip. If you need more miles before booking, check out our guide to earning more Delta miles.
If you want to redeem United miles, we found good saver economy availability between New York City and Taipei. You can fly in economy class one-stop each way for just 70,000 miles plus $46.25 round-trip. Check out our guide to earning more United miles if you need to top-off your account.
If you want to redeem American Airlines miles, there’s also good availability. For example, here’s a look at availability between Los Angeles and Taipei.
For example, here’s an economy round-trip through Tokyo on the outbound and Hong Kong on the return for 75,000 miles plus $80.15. It’s free and relatively easy to cancel an award and redeposit miles with AAdvantage, so there’s little risk in booking this award now. If you need more miles, check out our guide to earning more American miles.
There are many great hotel options in Taipei. But, as with airfare, I recommend using hotel points you already have in your account to book your stay instead of transferring points from a transferrable currency. So, here are five of the best hotels for attending Taiwan Pride.
There are many Marriott Bonvoy hotels in Taiwan. But, if you’re looking to save points, the Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel is just a short subway ride from Taipei City Hall. You can redeem 110,000 points or pay $1,601 for a five-night stay. So, if you redeem Marriott Bonvoy points, you’d get a redemption value of 1.46 cents per point.
But, if the W Taipei is the venue for a huge Saturday night party this year, you may want to splurge to stay at the W. A five-night stay will cost 220,000 points or $1,518. As such, you’d get a redemption rate of 0.69 cents per point, which is below TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each.
If you’re loyal to Hyatt, the Grand Hyatt Taipei is an excellent choice. This hotel costs 15,000 points per night for a standard room, so you could use Category 1-4 award night certificates to book your stay. For example, a four-night stay during Taiwan Pride would cost 60,000 points or $1,003.
As such, you’d get 1.67 cents per point, which is slightly lower than TPG’s valuation of Hyatt points. So, it might be better to book a fully cancellable paid rate and earn World of Hyatt points on your stay.
The Kimpton Da An Hotel is an appealing option on Ren’ai Road along the parade route. And, if you have an eligible IHG Rewards credit card, you can get a fourth night reward when you redeem points for a stay of four nights or longer. With this fourth night reward, a four-night stay during Taiwan Pride would cost 94,000 points or $736.05.
Finally, there aren’t any Hilton Honors hotels within walking distance of Taipei City Hall. However, if you want to use Hilton points on this trip, the Hotel Resonance Taipei (part of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection) is a short subway ride away.
You’d need to redeem 58,000 Hilton points per night for this property, but Hilton elites get a fifth night free when redeeming Hilton points for a stay of five nights or more. Check out our guide to earning Hilton points if you need to earn more for this redemption.
Johannesburg (Oct. 30)
Johannesburg Pride will host the Pride of Africa Celebrations on Oct. 30, 2021, in Johannesburg. Specific details for this year’s event aren’t available yet, but Johannesburg Pride typically holds the event in the Sandton suburb of Johannesburg.
On a usual year, thousands gather for a festival and to march through the streets. Johannesburg Pride says the march is to stand for self-acceptance and legal rights but also to celebrate pride. The festival and parade are typically open to the public at no cost.
South Africa reopened to tourists back in Nov. 2020. And, TPG’s Zach Honig recently went to South Africa on United’s inaugural flight from Newark to Johannesburg. So, Johannesburg will likely be a feasible location to celebrate Pride later this year. Now, let’s take a quick look at airfare and hotel options if you want to attend the Pride of Africa Celebrations.
My favorite way to get to South Africa with points is to redeem American Airlines miles to fly Qatar business class. After all, there’s usually excellent award availability for at least two seats. And I enjoy flying the Qatar Qsuite product. Plus, it only costs 75,000 American Airlines miles plus about $16 of taxes and fees per person each way to fly from the U.S. to South Africa via Doha. Check out our post on how to earn American Airlines miles if you need more miles.
However, American Airlines miles can be challenging to earn. If you prefer to redeem United miles, you’ll be happy to know there’s excellent saver availability for economy class awards and decent availability for business class awards.
For example, you could depart Newark on Oct. 24, 2021, to fly non-stop to Johannesburg in economy class for 40,000 United miles plus $5.60 per person one-way. If you need it, see our guide on how to earn more United miles.
If you’d prefer to redeem Alaska miles, you can fly one way in economy class from Seattle to Johannesburg any day in October. On most dates, you can redeem 47,500 miles plus $29 to fly one-way in economy on Emirates. However, avoid the British Airways-operated awards as these carry high taxes and fees. Check out our guide to earning Alaska miles if you need more miles.
Of course, there are plenty of other options. So, check your favorite loyalty programs to see what’s available for your preferred origin and dates.
If you want to redeem hotel points to stay in the Sandton suburb of Johannesburg for the Pride of Africa Celebrations, there are three great options. However, since the organizers haven’t yet announced the parade route or location of the festival, it’s challenging to determine which hotel is best.
The Hilton Sandton has an executive lounge and a free scheduled shuttle you can use to visit nearby destinations. If you have elite status with Hilton, you can get a fifth night free when you redeem points. After the fifth night free, you’d need to redeem 92,000 Hilton points for a five-night stay from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1, 2021.
Alternatively, you could book this stay for $522 — which might be a better option since you’d only get 0.57 cents per point of value when redeeming Hilton points (which is below TPG’s valuation of 0.6 cents per point). Check out our guide to earning Hilton Honors points if you need to earn more points.
Meanwhile, the Holiday Inn Sandton Rivonia Road provides excellent value. And if you have an eligible IHG Rewards credit card, such as the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you can get a fourth night reward when you redeem points for a stay of four nights or longer.
With a fourth-night reward, you’d only need 39,000 points for a four-night stay from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, 2021. This same stay would cost $465, which means you’d get a redemption value of 1.19 cents per point if you redeem IHG Rewards points. If you need more IHG points, check out our guide to earning IHG Rewards points.
Finally, the Protea Hotel Johannesburg Balalaika Sandton is a Category 1 Marriott hotel that provides excellent value. All Marriott Bonvoy members get a fifth night free when redeeming Marriott points. So, a five-night stay from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1, 2021, would cost just 30,000 points. This same stay would cost $662, so you’d get 2.21 cents per point on your redemption. Compared to TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents, this is an excellent redemption rate. Check out our guide to earning Marriott Bonvoy points if you need to earn more points.
Reporting by Andrew Kunesh, Benji Stawski, Ariana Arghandewal, Ryan Patterson and Katie Genter.
Featured image by Ink Drop/Shutterstock
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