It was 20 years ago that Whistler – North America’s top-ranked ski resort – took one small step for gay skiers and one giant leap forward for the Pride movement. Upset over the passage of anti-gay legislation in Colorado, local activists decided to boycott the famous Aspen Gay Ski Week and start their own celebration. A few hundred skiers and boarders showed up for a low-key week on the slopes.
Fast-forward to the present and WinterPRIDE is ranked one of the top ten gay ski weeks on the planet by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, attracting up to 3,000 revelers every year. And the party is anything but low key.
Things kick off this year on Feb. 5 with a welcome party at Buffalo Bill’s, a Whistler nightclub institution with a long history of wild nights. But don’t party too hardy because there’s a full week of fun ahead. Days are spent outdoors – skiing or boarding on Whistler’s world class slopes or partaking in group adventures, including a three-hour snowmobile excursion through the pristine Callaghan Valley.
But things really heat up at night with special parties at top Whistler clubs and bars. Celebrations this year include the Irish-themed Up Yer Kilt Party, the down-home Echo Valley Ranch Cowboy/Cowgirl Party and the Holiday Inn Aruba Pool Party, not to mention the Mr. Gay Canada Competition.
Of course, Whistler Village has plenty of charms all of its own: an award-winning culinary scene, designer shopping, museums, galleries and some of the most breathtaking natural scenery in British Columbia.
As usual, the culmination of WinterPRIDE is the epic Snow Ball, held this year on Feb. 11. International DJ Manny Lehman is the headliner at this all-night dance party on the slopes. For more information and to purchase tickets, check out the WinterPRIDE website.