Winter weather lovers can choose among many glorious gay ski weeks
Vancouver hosts the Winter Olympic Games in 2010, but you can hit the same slopes as the medalists a lot sooner.
The top gay-travel destination in Canada two years in a row according to a survey by Community Marketing, Vancouver has been hosted a gay ski week for 16 years. WinterPride is the newly-launched version, which takes place in British Columbia’s capital in early February. Last year, organizers re-branded the long-standing Altitude as WinterPride, which combines four winter festival elements Sports, Culinary, Health/Wellness and Entertainment under one umbrella.
Returning events include dogsledding and ziptrekking excursions, a banquet with a performance by Cirque du Soleil’s “Mystere” troupe and an array of dance parties (including a costume ball and one called the “Brokeback Party” the film was actually shot in Alberta). Other planned programs include trips specifically for lesbians and the bear community.
But Vancouver isn’t the only game in town by any means. Here’s our annual run-down of 10 major gay ski events in North America (and one in Europe!). Some are targeted to specific segments of the gay community (African-Americans, snowboarders) but all welcome diversity.
Many suggest pre-registration to ensure you’re part of the fun, so Web sites, where available, have been listed.
2008′s Gay Ski Week Schedule
Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Park City, Utah. Jan. 9-13.The first major event of the season takes place in Robert Redford’s back yard, Park City, Utah, with a different mountain featured for each day of the event.
Aspen Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Aspen, Colo. Jan. 13-20. The granddaddy of gay ski weeks, Aspen’s week-long ski party has been around since 1977. On Jan. 10, before the official start date, is “An Evening with Rufus Wainwright.” Events include a downhill costume competition, a gay-vs.-straight ice hockey match and lots of parties. GaySkiWeek.com.
Vail Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Vail, Colo. Jan. 30-Feb. 4. Several different mountains (Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek) are singled out on various days of the week, with other events in the evenings.
Winter Rendezvous, Stowe, Vt. Jan. 30-Feb. 3. If you prefer the moister powder and lower elevations of the east to the Colorado Rockies, you can have your caked-on boots and eat ‘em, too. The same week as Vail’s gay blow-but, Vermont’s most famous skiing destination holds its 24th annual slopes party. And while you’re up there, why not turn the vacation into a honeymoon and get a civil union in the first state to permit gay couples equal rights under the law? Winterrendezvous.com.
WinterPride, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Feb. 3-10. The largest gay ski event in Canada formerly known as Altitude features DJ David Knapp headlining Snowball, comedian Debra DiGiovanni, Melissa Ferrick performing at the first Women’s Night of Music and the return of Cirque du Soleil. GayWhistler.com.
Telluride Gay Ski Week, Telluride, Colo. Feb. 23-March 1. Falling during the Academy Awards, one of the highlights of the annual Telluride Gay Ski Week is the yearly Oscar party. Also in attendance this year is a skiing party with HereTV star Charlie David. TellurideGaySkiWeek.com.
Winter Explosion, Kerhonkson, N.Y. Feb.15-18. Now 13 years old, this Upstate New York event (it takes place at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa over Presidents’ Day weekend) is targeted to queer African-Americans. The entertainment certainly is star-quality: Patti LaBelle will perform. WinterExplosion.com.
Lake Tahoe WinterFest Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Lake Tahoe, Nev. March 2-9. For a while, two different groups sponsored what can only be called competing gay ski events in the Lake Tahoe area; WinterFest is now the official Tahoe trip. Plans for events and guests are still being finalized, but the dates are certain. LakeTahoe-Winterfest.com.
Happy Gay Ski Week, Portes du Soleil in Avoriaz, March 29-April 5. This event on the border of the French and Swiss Alps is in its fourth year and features the allure of European slopes filled with gay skiers. HappyGayHolidays.com.
OutBoard, Steamboat Springs, Colo. April 2-6. It’s Lucky 13 (the official name) for this event, targeted to gay snowboarders rather than Alpine skiers. It’s back again at Steamboat Springs. OutBoard.org.
If skiing and winter weather in general is not your thing, there are some warm getaways that might be more to your liking.
Galveston Island’s Wyndham Hotels are offering winter rates as low as $95 for the rest of December (at Tremont House and Harbor House), going up to $119 at the Hotel Galvez in January and February.
Want to get even farther from Texas? Last month, the first five-star gay hotel in Latin America opened in Buenos Aires. It’s the second such accommodation created by Spain’s Axel Corp., which launched its first gay hotel in Barcelona in 2003. Describing itself as “hetero-friendly,” the hotel boasts a top floor that is a glass-bottomed swimming pool, so visitors entering the lobby can gaze up at bathers frolicking above them.
Gay travelers rarely need a reason to go to Palm Springs (pictured), but the first week of January offers one excuse: the 19th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, which will be showing about a dozen GLBT films. It runs Jan. 3-14.
Finally, Fort Lauderdale and the Greater Phoenix area are warm and wonderful this time of year. We’ll be doing full coverage on these GLBT destination in early 2008.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 21, 2007.