The Lake Parade – a large ‘techno-parade’ where thousands of people have gathered in lavish fancy dress by the lake of Geneva, Switzerland every July since 1997.
Well, having heard a lot of intriguing stories of intoxication, extravagance and foolery at the Lake Parade from my best friend who now lives in the city, I thought it was about time I made my own memories of this ‘gay pride’ equivalent – and boy did it deliver…
After booking my flights (£90 return from Luton) and hotel (£50 for two nights at the Ibis hotel) and having originally thought that Geneva was the city that the film ‘The Princess Diaries’ was set in (please don’t judge) I decided to quiz my friend who lives there and a couple of friends who had already visited about the ins and outs of the city.
‘IT’S EXPENSIVE’ were the two words which were constantly thrown at me – two words that do not bode well with a now unemployed graduate (me).
However, during my visit I discovered that although to drink and eat out was rather pricey if on a budget (approx £15.50 for a main course, £9.50 for a beer and £20 for a bottle of house wine) I found some ways to cut down on costs which yes, may not be… ‘allowed’ but worked well for me while I was there…
On our first night ‘out on the town’ we began the evening by sinking a mix of gin and vodka.
However, we were very quickly faced with the daunting realization that we did not have the luxury of a knife to cut our fancy garnish of cucumber with – so, what were we to do? Use an invented tool of a broken plastic cup – Bear Grylls style.
After solving that difficult task, we bounded enthusiastically towards the bus stop. Naturally, I made my way to the kiosk to pay for my ticket however, no one else seemed to be doing the same…
I soon discovered that the bus and tram drivers do not check tickets in Geneva.
Saving tip number one – (however do this at your own risk as I’m sure there is a hefty fine if you are caught).
After a fun-filled night of cocktail drinking and socialising at a bar called Barber Shop (£9.50 cocktails (the passion fruit cocktail was to die for) and £5.50 beers) and buying every single rose from every single child selling them in Geneva, we headed out to find some inevitable ‘drunk food’.
An hour and a half later we were left gob smacked… McDonald’s, – closed. Kebab shops – closed. Pizzerias – closed.
It was at this point that we questioned what sort of place we had come to – dominoes apps were downloaded and flights home were considered.
However, we took the high rode and decided to stick it out for Lake Parade (drunken first world problems eh!). Reluctantly, we retreated back to bed with a wrap from the hotel restaurant the size of a canape.
After a morning stroll admiring the delightful architecture of Geneva, a strong latte to eliminate the gin head from the night before and a pungent block of blue cheese for breakfast we were excited to get ‘hippifying’ ourselves.
Draped in tie dye, peace signs, flowery headbands, glitter, plaits, face paint, eccentric multi-colours and cradling a 4.5L bottle of Absolute vodka we made our way to the Pearl de Lac park for pre drinks (at 2pm).
Everyone had pulled out the stops and by 4pm I was surrounded by a haze of red Indians, police men, fire men, builders, a bizarre red Indian gimp (I know!), snow white, cowboys, bananas, the list could go on.
As we drunk, barbecued, bounded around socialising and meeting new people and sheltered from the rain for a brief downpour I was beginning to see why my friend had expressed such love for this ‘messy, messy’ day.
Yet, we hadn’t even made it to the parade yet…
After indulging in a few more alcoholic beverages we bundled into a questionable dingy boat to take us over to the parade.
Saving tip number two – you can take your own alcohol over on the boat but are not allowed to if you enter the parade on foot.
Que, plastic bottles of vodka.
As we piled cautiously of off the boat we were greeted by the pulsating sound of techno music blaring out of each of the moving floats.
Each float was decorated with their own unique touch – flamboyant, colourful, gothic, drag, you name it.
Energetic individuals, who had been dedicated enough to gather before the beginning of the parade to get onto the float, swarmed at the front dancing for the crowd’s attention.
We danced, we drank, we played frisbee, there were dance offs, we did the limbo, people jumped in the lake, we made new friends, phones were lost, phones were found, pizza was eaten (YES we found drunk food) and then it all becomes a bit of a blur…
So here are some pictures which will hopefully sum it up for you…
Lake Parade was one of those days where you wake up the next day and however hungover you may be – and I was HUNGOVER (I had to shower sitting down), you are gutted that you can’t go back in time and relive the exact same day again.
Despite not seeing many of the tourist sights Geneva had to offer, the city did me well on the fun factor front and I will be back next year to visit CERN. Not Lake Parade…
Until next year Geneva… Peace out.