Despite climactic extremes and dramatic variations in sunlight, humanity near the North Pole has transformed inhospitable terrain into a playground of extreme adventure, remarkable culture, and fashionable nightlife. The progressive social and political views of Scandinavia reach even the furthest corners of the world's northernmost latitudes, where gay and straight life integrate and sexual preference stands insignificant. From openly gay mushers and seal hunters in Svalbard to Tromso's prolific Prince Harry doppelgangers to Stockholm's show stopping Viking pedigree, Santa Claus's stomping grounds are a land of beautiful people and unwavering tolerance. The polar bar scene unites all demographics and desires, including an eye-opening reverence for bisexuality.
Getting to the pub in Longyearbyen78?14'N: Barentz Pub in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
The Norwegian territory and polar ice caps on the periphery of the North Pole itself entice outdoor enthusiasts to discover a land of timeless white desert in winter and unparalleled serenity in summer, where polar bears, reindeer, and arctic foxes rule the land. The 2,300 residents of the Svalbard Islands graciously welcome hard-core travelers to explore uncharted territories at the top of the world and return to the luxuries of 4.5 star accommodations at The Radisson Blu Hotel Spitsbergen. Adjacent to the Radisson's entrance, Barentz Pub is the principal watering hole for the island's student population, those in the biz, and visiting tourists, with no shortage of rugged yet open-minded locals downing MACK Arctic Beers and sucking on fresh glacier ice cubes.
The night lights of Tromsø's harbor69?39_N: Verdensteatret Bar in Tromsø, Norway
For those living above the Arctic Circle, Troms? is the Paris of North, rich with cultural offerings and pockets of big-city sophistication. With more than 10,000 students in a city of 67,000, it's no surprise to find more than 1,000 gay profiles on Norway's principal hook-up website, Gaysir.no. While no gay bars exist per se, Verdensteatret Bar, the first cinema in northern Norway circa 1916, boasts a young and visibly gay crowd, wildly drunk come 2 a.m. on pints of local MACK Pilsner and anything but Swedish Vodkas. The real head-turners are the ginger muscle boys, largely unavailable in the other parts of the world but profuse in the superlative city for viewing the Northern Lights.
The dreamlike Absolut Icebar67?51'N: Absolut Icebar in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Imposters and outposts pale in comparison to the original Icebar, located in northern Sweden's infamous Ice Hotel. Surviving the frozen feat of architecture and design precipitates frequent trips to the adjacent Absolut Icebar, serving cocktails made from Sweden's signature, Absolut Vodka, to the sounds of the gayest of gay Eurovision songs and pop favorites (IceHotel.com).
Mälarpaviljongen's summertime scene59?20'N: M?larpaviljongen and Torget in Stockholm, Sweden
Just below the Arctic Circle, the gay scene grows in tandem with population size; and the must-see capital city of Sweden arguably flaunts the world's finest-looking gay men. Though recognized for its diversity, Stockholm's pure-bred neo-Vikings rule this city -- tall and muscular in stature, exceptionally well-endowed, with large, piercing blue eyes, meticulously defined jaw-lines, full, juicy red lips, and baby-soft yet thick blond hair. From May to September, the stunners storm the upscale outdoor café, Mälarpaviljongen, on the banks of the Riddarfjärden shore in the early evening, before heading for to Torget for a night of standing, posing, and dancing.