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Bystander Ian Pierce says: “This is brilliant, first time I’ve been, but I’m definitely coming back next year. It’s so funny.”For the tug of war, two haphazard teams take their places on the stage with a rope. The whistle goes off, and the two teams start to pull to deafening cheers – the winning team comes dangerously close to falling off of the stage. 

The best part about this event is that absolutely anyone can join in – it’s open to drag queens and kings alike and there is a dedicated beautician who will help to transform you into a dazzling drag beauty, should you wish to join in the fun. Fancy being part of 2013’s celebrations? Well it’s completely free to enter (if you need some Dutch courage, the contestants get free booze, which is awesome), just don’t forget your wigs and stilettos – even if you’re a drag king, you will need to wear heels. 

As for those who’d rather just spectate, there’s plenty more to see and do in the city during the same week, as the Drag Queen Olympics are part of the wider Amsterdam Gay Pride celebrations. These take place all over the city and include a boat parade, street parties and a Pride march.

One regular Pride participant I spoke to, David Markes, summed up the inclusive atmopshere: “I love the way the entire city seems to be behind the day.” Who could resist a party like that?

Drag Queen Olympics take place on August 2, starting at 7pm. To enter as a queen or king, arrive at 5pm;


Getting there Fly from London Luton to Amsterdam from £65.98 return with easyJet.  


Eat, drink, sleep


Budget: Kop Van Jut has a great atmosphere, with photos and memorabilia adorning the walls. The traditional Dutch grub is served in generous portions and the restaurant is always full, so call ahead to make a reservation. Mains from £12.(Leidsekruisstraat 24; tel. 002 0320 7722)

Midrange: The Dutch might not have a stellar reputation for service, but Rijsel is the exception to the rule. On top of great staff, the food here is excellent. You also have the option to go off-menu for more unusual fare, such as calves brains or dove. Mmm. Mains from £16. 

Luxury: Elkaar does Dutch fine dining in a laid-back atmosphere – almost to the point of feeling as though you’re entering someone’s home. Take a seat outside in the hot summer months. Mains from £20.(Alexanderplatz 6 1018; tel. 002 0330 7559)


Budget: With a great atmosphere, and regular live music, Hannekes Boom (above) is one of the best bars in Amsterdam. When it’s sunny, sit on the terrace which looks out towards the Science Center NEMO. Pints from £2. 

Midrange: Spacious Cafe de Jaren is great for drinks or dinner. There is a separate dining area for customers who wish to eat, so bar-goers – a hipster, mixed-age set – have the downstairs floor to themselves.  Wine from £3 a glass. 

Luxury: With one of the best views over Amsterdam, SkyLounge is situated on the top floor of the Doubletree Hilton Hotel. During the daytime you get spectacular views, and the city looks pretty lit up at night, too. Cocktails from £10. 


Budget: Formerly housing Amsterdam’s most famous brothel, chic boutique hostel Cocomama (above) is the place to be in Amsterdam. With chandeliers, high ceilings and a garden to chill out in, it’s the perfect base from which to explore the city. Doubles from £45pn.

Midrange: A short walk away from the bustling nightlife at the Rembrandtplein, The Hampshire Hotel has spacious bedrooms and free wifi. It’s quiet too, so is good for getting some well-needed shut-eye after a party. Doubles from £112pn.  

LuxuryThe Hilton Amsterdam is famous for hosting John Lennon and Yoko-Ono in 1969, when they staged their bed-in for peace. Go here for the added bonus of a health club, complete with sauna and whirlpool. Doubles from £250pn.  

Photos: Getty; Thinkstock;; Facebook


Amsterdam's Drag Queen Olympics: The creme of high-heeled athleticism battle for gold
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