In London – as is the case in many major cities – it can sometimes seem that having fun as an LGBTQ+ person is synonymous with getting drunk or ending up at a queer bar. And while London does boast incredible LGBTQ+ nightlife, including clubs like Dalston Superstore and Heaven, the UK’s capital is also a bustling place for queer tourists and locals alike to visit if you’re sober, under-18, or just don’t feel like nursing a hangover during your visit.

With an increasing number of young people choosing to avoid alcohol, it’s important to know that enjoying LGBTQ+ culture and history in London doesn’t need to involve drinking at all, with a wealth of museums, cafés, and activities to fill your trip with booze-free fun. 

Here’s Vacationer’s guide to the best spots to visit if you’re both queer and sober, with both permanent fixtures to experience any time and upcoming activities during the 2023 spring and summer seasons. 

BFI Flare

The famed BFI Flare is an annual queer cinema event usually scheduled to start the second week in March and it features the screening of dozens of contemporary LGBTQ+ movies. 

If you missed the Flare, Queer East Festival takes place shortly after, screening at the BFI and seven other London venues from April 18 – 30, 2023. This festival celebrates LGBTQ+ East and Southeast Asian filmmakers.

Address: 0 Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XT

London LGBTQ+ Community Centre

Located by the River Thames, London’s LGBTQ+ Community Centre first opened as a pop-up to provide “comfort and solace” for the LGBTQ+ community after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Now a permanent spot providing much-needed health and well-being services, the center is also a café, an event space hosting cinema screenings, poetry workshops and even scarf-making, and what it describes as a place to “simply just be”. 

The LGBTQ+ Community Centre is perfect for longer visits to London when you have more time to relax and enjoy less touristy destinations.

Address: 60-62 Hopton Street, London, SE1 9JH

Queer Britain Museum

The Queer Britain Museum is the first dedicated museum of British LGBTQ+ history and culture, and it’s a must-visit stop for those looking to soak up some queer culture during their stay in the capital.

The Kings Cross-based museum opened in 2022, ahead of the 50th anniversary of Britain’s first Pride March, and features the voices, artifacts, and photography from over 100 years of queer life in the country. 

Address: 2 Granary Square, London, N1C 4BH

Queer Britain Museum (Photo Credit: Queer Britain)
Queer Britain Museum (Photo Credit: Queer Britain)

The Common Press

An independent LGBTQ+ bookshop in East London, The Common Press is also an event space that hosts vogueing workshops, yoga, dance parties, and even a comedy night entitled “Queer Diary,” featuring brave volunteers reading sections of their cringy and angst-filled teenage diaries. 

The Common Press is also a café, making it a cozy spot to visit during a quieter day of your trip. 

Address: 118 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 6DG

The Common Press is a queer intersectional bookshop. (Photo Credit: The Common Press)
The Common Press is a queer intersectional bookshop. (Photo Credit: The Common Press)

Dragged Around London Walking Tours

Forget drag brunches and try something different! Drag walking tours are a unique and fun way to get a sense of London’s vibrant LGBTQ+ culture while visiting a number of historic spots around the city. 

Dragged Around London offers private walking tours – for groups of over five – or public walks for an exciting and educational experience that requires no alcohol at all. Dragged Around London also donates 10% of its ticket sales to the LGBTQ+ shelter The Outside Project. 

The Corner Café 

Looking for a chilled-out afternoon? Visit Corner New Cross, an LGBTQ+ café and art space decorated with a gorgeous queer mural and located in South East London.

Part coffee shop, part art exhibit, the café also runs crafting events and queer coffee mornings where you can meet new people in a sober environment.

Address: 117 New Cross Road, London, SE14 5DJ

Gay’s The Word

Open since 1979, Gay’s The Word is not only the UK’s oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop, but its most iconic moment was when it was featured in the movie Pride (2014). 

Visit to browse the store’s wide range of queer reads, or schedule your visit during an event, author signing, or discussion group. 

Address: 66 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AB

Pride in London and UK Black Pride

Okay, so quite a few people at Pride parades will be drinking, but a trip to London over the summer wouldn’t be complete without the capital’s famous Pride and UK Black Pride events. Keep in mind that many visitors will choose to celebrate sober. 

Pride in London, annually attended by around 1.5 million visitors, will take place on the first Saturday in July. This year it takes place on Saturday, July 1. 

Details for UK Black Pride – which celebrates LGBTQ+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American, and Middle Eastern descent – have not yet been announced for 2023, however, the event usually takes place around the same time.