There’s always something to discover in Munich – whether you have four hours to spare or 24, a long weekend or even a whole week. Here are a few highlights from the city’s LGBTQ* scene!
The LGBTQ* scene in Munich has a long history: as well as being one of the first cities to hold Christopher Street Day celebrations (the German and Swiss equivalent to Gay Pride), the Munich-based political party Rosa Liste was the first gay and lesbian electoral group in Europe to take up seats on a local council, in the 90s. But much earlier than that even, at the end of the 60s, the Ochsengarten opened here: one of Germany’s first leather bars. Its visitors since then have included Freddie Mercury, who would go there for impromptu birthday celebrations and drag parties. Many LGBTQ* events and venues were and still are based in the Glockenbachviertel district, though a number of queer locations and events can also be found in other areas of Munich.
If you’re looking to start your evening in a cosy bar, the Glockenbachviertel is still the best place to go. Although there are not as many specifically gay bars and clubs here as there were in the 1980s and ‘90s, there are several venues in the area which always attract a good crowd. Younger revellers in particular are very comfortable partying in mixed bars these days. Wednesday is generally known as “gay day”, when the area is buzzing with young people and the bar is open for the evening at the Diversity Café, a queer meeting place for young people and adults aged up to 27.
Another popular meeting spot for pre-drinks is Kraftwerk, as happy hour drinkers can grab a €1 beer or enjoy a cocktail offer. Located at the corner of Müllerstrasse and Thalkirchner Strasse, this cafe-bar is particularly lively in summer – clientele come for coffee, cake and snacks during the day, and drinks and burgers in the evenings. If it’s too busy for you there though, you could try your luck at the Ksar Bar on Müllerstrasse – a pub that always brings in a lot of gay patrons on Wednesdays. For the slightly older crowd, gay bar Café Nil is a comfortable spot which opens at noon and offers a menu featuring simple dishes such as schnitzel, alongside its drinks offering.
The Edelheiss in Glockenbachviertel is all about traditional Bavarian dress and an older crowd. It gets crowded during Oktoberfest, though for the rest of the year it’s a fine place to enjoy a relaxed drink at the bar and the traditional ambience. It’s worth knowing that bearded punters get their second beer on the house here, every Thursday after 8.00 pm! Visitors are drawn to Bar Rendezvous on Müllerstrasse for its summer terrace and soundtrack of cheery pop “schlager” music. Though it’s not a particularly big place, when the karaoke gets going the atmosphere here is like no other! Nearby Aroma Kaffeebar hosts the After Work gay night from 6.00 pm on the first Tuesday of every month.
Anyone who lives for happy hour and a breakfast of Weißwurst (Bavarian veal sausage) should definitely pay a visit to Bar Zur Feuerwache. Meanwhile, for great cocktails and stylish surroundings, Holzstrasse gay bar Jenny was a friend of mine is sure to impress. The guests here tend to be more middle-aged, and a lot of them seem to know each other already: a bunch of confirmed regulars! Bar Ochsengarten has survived through the gentrification of the neighbourhood, having opened as Germany’s first leather fetish bar for men in 1967 – and you can still have a great evening here! Munich’s largest dark room, Camp bar, is located beside Ochsengarten.
If you want to go dancing, you should head to lively Club Prosecco, which you’ll find on a side street off Müllerstrasse. There are regular Gay Schlager music parties here, but the venue also draws a crowd for its After-Oktoberfest, Easter and Christmas events. The Blitz Music Club, found on the same island as the Deutsches Museum, is very LGBTQ*-friendly – and its top-notch line-up makes it one of the most popular techno clubs in the city, where revellers can party until dawn. There are no limits on the outrageousness of outfits at the Blitz – you can even go topless if you like. Though there are always gay and lesbian clubbers here, the venue also holds two monthly events which are especially geared towards the LGBTQ* scene: Playground and Cruise.
Another institution on the scene is the Harry Klein, which has long been renowned for its drag queen shows and regular LGBTQ* parties. Garry Klein is the name of the weekly Wednesday gay party night, which generally attracts a young crowd including many students who do not need to get up early the next day. Given it’s held on a weeknight, the party regularly attracts an impressive crowd. The atmosphere is informal – and the highlight is undoubtedly the drag show, which starts at 1 am!
As well as the many clubs which are part of Munich’s LGBTQ* scene, there are also various regular club nights which take place in different venues around the city. One relative newcomer to the scene is Lovers Munich, a young party collective whose regular balls – which include dance contests and dressing-up events – are very popular. If the Lovers aren’t in residence at the Folks Club, the Senatore Bar or Utopia, you can probably spot these living works of art wandering around the Kunst Block Balve art and cultural venue. This is where the collective organises its regular CREAM event, Munich’s first sex-positive party. And of course, let’s not forget Jenny tanzt, Munich’s largest gay party which takes place every few weeks in the Oberangertheater or in the Isarpost! You can dance the night away to pop and Schlager hits here – but we recommend you arrive early, as these parties are always popular.
The NY Club is another firm fixture on the gay club scene, as it is Munich’s only exclusively gay club. Freddie Mercury has danced here! The crowd is very young, especially on Fridays, and the music is poppy. Saturdays draw a somewhat older crowd, as the DJ plays house and electro music. Just around the corner you’ll find the 8below club, which holds gay and lesbian parties and is also well-known on the LGBTQ* scene for its ‘90s parties. For after-hours drinks, you can head to Pimpernel, which is open daily and plays house and techno. Although it is not explicitly a gay venue, the club is extremely LGBTQ*-friendly.
If you’re looking for lesbian club nights, you could head to DJanes Delight, for example – though the crowd here is a little older. A younger, more eccentric crowd can be found at the regular She-La night, which takes place in the Milla Live Club. Other key events for gay women include the Amazonas party nights and 8below’s regular Uschi Einhorn nights and Pink Heaven parties for very young guests. The Harry Klein also organises the Marry Klein feminist club festival every year: an entire month during which there are exclusively women on the turntables, and which is very lesbian-friendly. For regular updates, you can subscribe to the mailing list for the events organised by the feminist WUT collective or the LeZ centre (lesbian and queer centre).
One of the most important LGBTQ* events in the city is CSD Pride-Week, which in recent years has taken place every July in Munich. The event includes multiple street parties such as the lesbian Angertor street party and Rathaus-Clubbing, which is popular with tourists and an older crowd. The CSD programme also includes a host of concerts, parades, film events, parties and multiple cultural and show stages to enjoy every year. Munich’s first Christopher Street Day took place in 1980, when a small political parade of 150 gay men and 30 lesbian women marched with placards through the city before heading to the beer garden at the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) for drinks. CSD was first celebrated in Berlin, Cologne and Bremen in 1979, with Munich joining just a year later.
And of course, the world’s largest folk festival also has plenty of LGBTQ* events on the calendar. There is the Rosa Wiesn for example, a series of gay Oktoberfest events which traditionally kick off on the first Sunday of the festival, which is known as Gay Sunday. On the same day, gay and lesbian festival-goers gather in the Bräurosl festival tent from midday to celebrate together. People are generally big fans of the community here, where the motto is: “A bisserl Leder braucht a jeder!” (Everybody needs a bit of leather!) Rosl Montag, which takes place on the first Monday of Oktoberfest, is another popular gay and lesbian meet-up during the festival. The Prosecco-Wiesn takes place on the second Monday of Oktoberfest every year, in the Fischer-Vroni festival tent – though if you don’t have a reservation, you have no hope of getting in! Revellers come together again on the last day of the festival, meeting at the food counter in the Schottenhamel tent to mark the end of Gay Oktoberfest.
There are also a number of places and venues where the LGBTQ* scene holds events during Fasching – Munich’s week-long carnival season preceding the start of Lent, known elsewhere as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. On Rosenmontag, the Monday before Lent begins, prizes are awarded for the most beautiful and elaborate costumes at the city’s largest gay Fasching ball. The event is organised by Sub (Schwules Kommunikations- und Kulturzentrum München/Gay Communications and Cultural Centre Munich), the Munich Lions’ Club and the Forum Homosexualität, and takes place in the Oberangertheater. The big Fasching party day is Tuesday, when gay and lesbian partygoers congregate at the Viktualienmarkt food market to celebrate at the “entrance” to the Glockenbachviertel district – where the Altstadtring meets Reichenbachstrasse. After that, they will move on and continue the revelry in front of the Deutsche Eiche hotel or at the Fasching street party between Gärtnerplatz and Reichenbachplatz.
Other exciting events in Munich include the Queer Film Festival, which has taken place annually for the last few years. The Sub centre also organises many regular events, such as the colourful Hans-Sachs-Strasse street party, which attracts 10,000 visitors and has become a highlight for the entire city. Held on warm summer days in August, the event fills the streets with dancing, drinking and celebration. All the other street parties in Glockenbachviertel are also LGBTQ*-friendly, of course! Another highlight of the year is the Pink Christmas gay and lesbian Christmas market, where visitors can expect to enjoy mulled wine, bratwurst and Christmas music, as well as Schlager music shows, drag artists and a prosecco bar. However, the Christmas market has become very commercialised in recent years, and has long lost its hidden gem appeal.
The Munich LGBTQ* scene is not solely made up of nightlife and festivals such as Oktoberfest though; there is a wide variety of other events to discover. Queer movie night at the Arena cinema takes place on the second Wednesday of every month, while Mongay at the City cinema sees a gay film screened every Monday. If cabaret is more your thing, don’t miss the drag shows at the Oberangertheater. The Deutsche Eiche hotel is another legendary venue; a place where patrons can not only recall famous historic guests as they eat in the restaurant, then sweat it out in Germany’s largest men’s sauna (the best time to go is Sunday midday and afternoon), but also relax on what is perhaps the most beautiful roof terrace in the city. The Underground in Obersendling is another great venue; it’s a fetish club which attracts a somewhat younger crowd, and where parties usually have a motto and a dress code.
The Galerie Kunstbehandlung on Müllerstrasse houses a collection of contemporary gay art. For some uniquely Bavarian fun, there’s always the Schwuhplattler, the world’s first homosexual Plattler folk dancing association. Aspiring members are invited to audition on the first and third Friday of every month. The association also makes appearances at parties all over the city – check their website for a list of dates and venues. It is not only Bavaria which can be welcoming to everyone, but the Catholic Church can too, as proved by the queer Mass which is held in St. Paul’s Church on the Theresienwiese (Oktoberfest fairground) every second Sunday.
A summer hotspot for the scene is Flaucher beach on Gay Island. You can swim and spend time with others here – and naturism is also permitted at these places along the Isar. The best way to reach the island is from the Flauchersteg pedestrian bridge – but you’ll need to wade through the water twice, so be warned! At the newly launched Queer Brunch at Café Regenbogen, diners can gorge themselves on the all-you-can-eat buffet, toast drag queens with prosecco and also do some good: all proceeds go towards the Münchner Aidshilfe AIDS charity!
Also interesting: More LGTBQ-friendly events and dates can be found at muenchen.de!