Every summer, Vancouver plays host to the largest – and probably the most fun – pride parade in Western Canada. More than 650,000 people turned out for last year’s weekend-long festival, which included street parties on Davie Street, themed celebrations and, of course, one unforgettable parade through downtown.
Many people don’t realize, however, that B.C. also plays host to an internationally recognized and exceedingly popular winter event aimed at the LGBT community. This year marks the 19th installment of WinterPride – a weeklong ski festival in Whistler. The fun starts this year on Jan. 30 and runs through Feb. 6.
WinterPride, just like the Vancouver Pride Parade, has its roots in protest. The event dates back to 1992 when Whistler locals, angry over the passage of anti-gay legislation in Colorado, decided to boycott the famous Aspen Gay Ski Week and start their own party. WinterPRIDE now draws approximately 2,800 revelers every year and is rated one of the top ten gay ski weeks in the world by the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
This year’s event has a full line-up of skiing, parties and outdoor adventure activities. Days are spent on the slopes, with specially trained ski and snowboard volunteer guides on hand to introduce newcomers to the mountain. To ensure that visitors get a full taste of what the BC backcountry has to offer, organizers have also scheduled snowshoe and snowmobiling tours and even dogsledding adventures.
Another highlight of the festival are the afternoon apres-ski events at venues throughout Whistler. These are followed up by group dinners at Whistler restaurants and themed parties at popular nightclubs. Tickets for all of the parties, dinners, outdoor activities and skiing are available on the WinterPride website.
And even if you can’t make it to Whistler, you can still get in on the action. WinterPride kicks off on Saturday, Jan. 29 with a special Avalanche Party at Celebrities nightclub in Vancouver.