You surely have heard of Mykonos, one of the most famous party islands in the world, a Greek gem in the Aegean sea. You probably also heard about it as the ultimate gay destination in Europe. The place became popular among gays in the last few decades of the 20th Century, and it had been famous since the 60s when Jackie Kennedy Onassis started to visit the island regularly as she fell in love with this little paradise and, of course, her second husband the Greek magnate Aristotle Onassis. This gave Mykonos its reputation of chic and exclusive holiday destination, while it proudly preserves its rustic and charming architecture and traditional lifestyle.
Perhaps less chic and exclusive today – still prices are high for accommodation with a great number of luxury hotels, shops and restaurants – the island has become more of a mainstream destination in the Mediterranean. The tourism industry is the main source of work and revenue for most in the island, and during summer time hotels, restaurants and beaches are packed with tourists from all over the world. In the month of August, a big proportion of those visitors are gay men. They come from all over the world, particularly Europe and the Middle East, but also many from the USA. Most do a stop-over in Athens for a day or two, while others fly directly from other major European cities.
Today, one big reason for such high concentration of gays in this little island is the XLSIOR summer festival.
Launched only in 2009, XLSIOR was created to take advantage of the island’s popularity among gays, and to become a getaway vacation that combines fun, music, beach and a the wonderful settings of Mykonos. The island is indeed tremendously beautiful, and the parties usually take place in outdoor or semi-outdoor venues – day and night – with breathtaking views to the nature of this island, rocky mountains and cliffs dipping into the blue waters of the Med sea, gorgeous sunsets and incredible sunrises. The music is in charge of some of the best DJs in the Gay Circuit scene, and some of the attendees are considered “la crème de la crème” of the gay world.
This year the Festival took place in late August, and it usually coincides with the dates the gay cruises in the Med sea make their stop in Mykonos. As in many of these summer festivals you can buy a bracelet (or its VIP version) that allows you access to all the parties. However, the truth is the price has gone so high that just a few actually buy it. A more sensible option to your budget is to choose the parties you want to go and just pay the fee at the entrance, if you don’t mind the queue. One of the most popular parties is the beach party at Elia beach, which is also the main gay beach on the island – a really nice one by the way – with transparent turquoise waters and plenty of sexy guys. There is also pool parties during the week of the festival, and one big party every night. Naturally, the main XLSIOR party is the biggest one, at famous Cavo Paradiso, something not to be missed. Besides Elia beach, other beaches are also popular among gays, especially Paradise and Super Paradise, where the trendy chic lounge bar Jackie’O is located. Be sure to spend at least one evening there.
Mykonos has a lot to offer, besides XLSIOR. Local Mediterranean Greek food is wonderfully delicious, so don’t be shy to try smaller and more local places around the island. Grilled calamari is one dish you must order. Mykonos town and around it is a good base to find accommodations – unless you look for something really exclusive – and it is easy to move around the island. If you can ride a scooter or motorbike then you are set. Renting a car is also possible but mind the traffic and parking. Bus is another option, and XLSIOR festival organizes buses to and from the party venues. Renting a motorbike, scooter or quad is the best option to move around the island. Don’t forget to ask for a helmet, as locals don’t really use them.
Oh! and remember, Mykonos, as most of the Greek islands, is really really windy! Bring a light jacket or hoodie, especially if you are getting on a bike. The truth is, after all the parties, beach and sun – plus the wind – most leave Mykonos with a little cold or bad sinus; but also with fantastic memories, and most probably new friends from all around the world. So it’s definitely worth it.
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