Spanning eight days, 65 events and featuring more than 60 performers, Whistler’s 21st WinterPride Festival is bigger and better than ever, with a little something on offer for everyone.
One of Whistler’s biggest festivals, the LGBTQ ski week starts Sunday (Feb. 3) and will delight the more than 3,000 expected attendees with some of its more popular staple events to go along with several new and exciting offerings.
“We’re pretty exciting about what we have in store,” said WinterPride’s executive director Dean Nelson. “If people really want to have that full-on hardcore over-the-top Pride experience, they can do it … Or if they want something a little bit more low-key, they have the different sport elements available so they can go skiing with our different ski groups or they can go dogsledding.”
Check out The Question’s guide to WinterPride’s can’t-miss events and activities.
Sunday, Feb. 3
To get the eight-day extravaganza started the right way, there will be an après ski get-together on Sunday at Black’s Pub from 3 to 6 p.m. WinterPride’s après ski functions are always popular and are hosted at local bars on each day of the festival. If you still haven’t broken the ice after the fest’s first event, head on over to the Whistler Conference Centre (WCC) for the WinterPride Welcome Party from 7 to 10 p.m. Still feeling an insatiable urge to dance the night away? Buffalo Bill’s has got you covered with their Welcome Dance Party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. hosted by local dancefloor destroyer DJ Peacefrog.
Monday, Feb. 4
Festival organizers are setting the tone on WinterPride’s first full day of programming with a diverse selection of events and activities that should appeal to all attendees. There will be a guided snowmobile, ski and snowboard tours on Whistler Blackcomb for the more athletically-inclined in the morning, a lunch hosted at the Roundhouse Lodge at 2 p.m. and the Mix and Mingle Party at the Savage Beagle, starting at 9 p.m.
Monday is also the first day of WinterPride’s Dine Out dinners, with two different local restaurants offering special menus and seating sections each day from 6 to 10 p.m. for festival attendees looking to meet other guests in a more relaxed atmosphere. Tandoori Grill and Bearfoot Bistro are the first local resto’s welcoming WinterPriders to their tables.
Tuesday, Feb. 5
Kick off your dancing shoes Tuesday for TAG’s Natural Mystic Snowshoe Tour from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and follow that up with a scrumptious lunch at the Glacier Creek Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain.
Finally, throw on your spurs and 10 gallon for Buffalo Bill’s wild Cowboy and Cowgirl Party from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. DJ Byron James will be spinning country classics while Vancouver’s LGBTQ country western dance troupe, the Timberline Dance Society dosey does to and fro.
Wednesday, Feb. 6
Go ziplining, sking, snowboarding or inner tubing on Wednesday to get you all warmed up for the afternoon’s Whistler Tasting Tour where each of your seven courses will be enjoyed at a different fine dining restaurant in the Village. The tour costs $110 and runs from 5 to 8:45 p.m.
For the first year, the Whistler Museum will be hosting a WinterPride debate that’s sure to ruffle a few feathers, from 8 to 10 p.m. The question up for discussion is whether or not Pride is still relevant in contemporary society.
“It’s going to be a very interesting conversation,” said Nelson.
At 9 p.m., one of WinterPride’s most popular events, the Gender Bender Party begins at Garf’s and this year’s whimsical theme is Alice in Wonderland.
“This year we wanted to mix up the Gender Bender party a little bit, and make it a little more inclusive for those who might not want to spend too much,” said Nelson.
Thursday, Feb. 7
Thursday was named Whistler’s Official Pride Day by the municipality and it’s definitely one you don’t want to miss with several high profile events on the agenda.
At 1 p.m., there will be a charity ski race on Blackcomb Mountain, followed by the Pride March at 3 p.m. in Skier’s Plaza with attendees and Whistlerites blazing a rainbow-coloured trail through the Village.
At 8 p.m., one of WinterPride’s most anticipated events, Mr. Gay Canada Grand Finale and Fashion Show will finally be here. The show will feature eight of Western Canada’s hottest men strutting the runway in their best eveningwear, ski gear and fetish wear. Celebrity judge Chad Michaels, the world’s No. 1 Cher impersonator and recent winner of Ru Paul’s All Stars Drag Race, will also be performing in her first Canadian appearance since winning the reality competition.
“We’re really fortunate to have secured her,” said Nelson.
Friday, Feb. 8
With an effort to provide more women’s programming this year, the Vancouver Dyke March became involved with this year’s WinterPride, co-producing several events, including the women’s après ski and speed dating session at the Aava Hotel from 3 to 6 p.m. and Purrlesque, a bisexual and lesbian themed party at Black’s Pub starting at 9 p.m.
The WCC will again host the boys’ favourite, Furrocious, a leather, denim and uniform party, also staring at 9 p.m.
“That’s been a very popular night where some of the guys are able to put on their leathers, their fetish gear, dress up as a cop or a fireman or a nurse or doctor and just have fun,” said Nelson.
Rounding out Friday’s Triple Threat Night is Snowstorm, a club kid circuit party at Garf’s. Make sure to bring your glow sticks for this one.
Saturday, Feb. 9
If you’re flirting skills need a quick refresher, check out the Barefoot Wine Tasting and Health Initiative for Men’s (HIM) Art of Flirtation workshop at 2 p.m. at the Aava Hotel. Enjoy fine white and red varietals while the flirty boys of HIM lead this fun, interactive workshop on how to catch the right guy’s eye.
At 9 p.m. the Vancouver Dyke March is hosting its WOW! Women of WinterPride closing party at the GLC, with beats by Vancouver’s own DJ Kasey Riot and DJ SHE.
Finally, WinterPride’s premiere event, Snowball 21 will run until the early hours of the night at the WCC with international dancefloor superstar DJ Paul Goodyear getting the crowd going.
“It’s our coming of age party, so to speak,” said Nelson.
This signature event is one you sure don’t want to miss.
Sunday, Feb. 10
WinterPride wraps up its epic eight days on Sunday, with a farewell breakfast from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Dubh Linn Gate Pub.
Get all of the week’s toxins out of you from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Scandinave Spa before your trek back to Vancouver’s Ginger 62 for their post-WinterPride party XoXo, starting at 10 p.m.
For a full list of all of WinterPride’s programming, visit www.gaywhistler.com.