The popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race has raised the profile of drag across the globe. Drag culture is more prevalent in mainstream society than ever before, and LGBT+ tourism is attracting international travellers to the most popular gay nightclubs and extravagant pride events in Europe and around the world.
The UK recently screened the finale of the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, with The Vivienne being crowned the UK’s next drag race superstar. As more gay men begin to explore the world of drag, new talent is being driven to the UK’s most popular LGBT+ scenes, meaning travellers have even more choice.
From London and Liverpool, across to Dublin and down to Brighton, cities across the UK are equally filled with camp drag theatricality and head-turning looks. While London is one of the world’s capital cities for LGBT+ nightlife, there are still many more UK cities that have something equally special to offer. Here’s a list of top spots to head to for your drag race fix, and to get a head start on your favourites for the second season of Drag Race UK, due to air in 2020.
London: Soho and world-famous Heaven
Soho is the UK’s most famous gay district. A constant hub of activity, the bars of Old Compton Street cut through Soho to connect the district’s most popular gay bars – and when midnight strikes, the parties move to nearby clubs around the corner.
Admiral Duncan, one of the oldest gay bars in London, is a second home to several drag queens, including Drag Race UK stars Sum Ting Wong and comedy queen Baga Chipz. Known both locally and internationally as an accepting, fun and embracing venue, Admiral Duncan has various entertainment options throughout the month that cater to a wide range of LGBT+ and drag interests. One regular queen to watch is Mary Mac, a camp comedy queen with a dirty mouth and wits as sharp as her Scottish-inspired looks.
Heaven, the gay nightclub found under the arches at Charing Cross, is a cultural bastion for both gay and straight communities. Featuring dance-remixed pop songs and a 2am balloon drop, Heaven is where the world’s most popular drag queens take the stage, performing some of their most well-known sets, giving iconic looks and signature on-brand quirks.
These venues host London’s top drag performers who are already superstars on the scene and will undoubtedly be in line for season 2 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, the casting call for which has already come and gone.
Dublin: The George
In May of 2015, Ireland legalised same-sex marriage, and it’s changed the face of Ireland’s gay nightlife, especially in Dublin, where older venues have found new popularity, and with new venues popping up around the capital.
The George is the heart of the LGBT scene in Ireland. Featuring drag shenanigans and drag DJs nearly every day of the week, The George has been, and continues to be, a long-standing staple of the Irish nightlife scene.
Brighton Club Revenge
Brighton has a large LGBT+ community – so much so that it’s known as the gay capital of the UK.
The Powder Room at Club Revenge hosts the biggest stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Self-proclaimed as the South Coast’s number one LGBTQ+ venue, Club Revenge hosts award-winning club nights and is renowned for being the ultimate party destination where you can go nuts on the dance floor and feel safe from start to finish.
Liverpool’s Stanley Street Quarter
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK winner, The Vivienne, is set to become the most famous drag queen from Liverpool. The Viv frequently performed at GBar, infamous for its after-hour parties. Having won countless awards and notoriety over the years, GBar in Liverpool is one club not to miss.
One queen to keep an eye on: JodieHarsh, who was rumoured to be working with Rupaul and his team prior to the first season of Drag Race UK. Having not been cast in season 1, perhaps Jodie will be in the second season’s line-up?
Also found in Stanley Street quarter are Superstar Boudoir and Heaven, where you’ll find some of RPDR’s most famous queens.
Drag artists performing at these famous venues across the UK will undoubtedly feature their city’s top-performing drag acts to rival the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of Drag Race’s current superstars. No matter where you’re travelling to in the UK, a vibrant LGBT+ community of drag is not far away and it’s never been easier to stalk your favourite Drag Race queens! There certainly won’t be any shortage of drag culture in 2020.
Compiled by global contributors at Culture Trip, this guide to seeing your favourite UK Drag Race queens will ensure you know where the hotspots are and which queens to look out for in season 2.