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The Hornet Guide to Gay Provincetown

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Every gay man should visit Provincetown at least once in his life to explore this quaint New England town. Sitting on the very tip of Cape Cod, P-Town’s gay presence can be traced all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century, as Provincetown was an artist’s haven and was home to some of the first experimental theaters.

Summer months are the best time to visit this resort town. Few people live in Provincetown year-round, and people begin to filter in late spring, eventually taking off before snow covers the entire town. Most weeks during the summer are themed weeklong parties, including Bear Week, Carnival Week and others.

Commercial Street

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Boatslip Resort

Commercial Street is the main thoroughfare of Provincetown, with plenty of restaurants (offering some of the country’s best seafood), cafés and boutiques (both high-end and touristy souvenirs). There are also tons of gay bars scattered down both sides of the street.

The Boatslip, for example, is renowned for its daily T-Dance that runs from 4-7 p.m. every afternoon. On a sunny day, of which there are plenty during the summer, half-naked men pack the deck to mingle, flirt and make plans for the rest of the evening. Drink stations surrounding the packed patio offer beer, cocktails and the Boatslip’s popular Planter’s Punch.

The Wave Video Bar is another popular spot to party. Part of the Crown and Anchor complex — which is comprised of several venues under one owner — it offers Top 40 music every night of the week, with an outdoor patio surrounding the swimming pool that is great for dance breaks. Also in the complex are Paramount, a space that often hosts circuit DJs and big events, and The Vault, a cruising bar featuring porn on the TVs and plenty of dark corners.

Atlantic House, or A-House, is P-Town’s year-round dance club, playing host to circuit events and the weekly amateur drag competition Showgirls. It’s part of a huge complex that also houses Little Bar and Macho Bar. Little Bar is a hole-in-the-wall spot with low ceilings and a great jukebox, while Macho Bar is the upstairs leather bar, quite a change of pace from most of the town’s dance clubs. Macho Bar is perfect for those gays who prefer leather, Levis and uniforms.

Popular Weeks

gay provincetown carnival parade
Miss Richfield 1981 barrels through the Carnival parade, photo via Flickr

Bear Week and Carnival are without a doubt the two most popular times to visit Provincetown in the summer. Bear Week, typically taking place the second week of July, welcomes bears and their admirers and hosts a slew of fantastic parties. Carnival — held in mid-August — is similar to a Pride celebration, but since everyday in P-Town is Pride, it’s a week the entire town really goes all-out. Thursday is the week’s big parade, always with a new theme each year, and it features drag queens, costumed partiers and the occasional celebrity.


Featured image courtesy of Provincetown Tourism Office

  • Vincent Detroit

    My first visit there was Halloween. What a great time. Well worth the visit.

  • getoffmylawn

    I liked it better in the 70s and early 80s when it was a mixed town with a year-round economy and catered to society’s outcasts and misfits. A mix of people that could be found nowhere else. Today it is a gay carnival in the summer and a deserted ghosttown in the winter with no jobs, few yearround people and almost everything closed. Apartments are impossible to come by because everything is warehoused for summer rentals. And the eclectic population that once made up the town is long gone. Theres still nowhere like it but its a shell of its former unusual self.

  • Spyke Pond

    As a lesbian, originally from the west coast, Ptown is our “look-forward-to” event of the year. It’s one of the few place that still hold events for women, by women, that benefit other women. But even the other themed weeks are enjoyable for everyone.