Whoever came up with that old entertainment industry adage that “the show must go on” probably wasn’t extending the saying to performers with broken femurs.
But don’t tell that to returning WinterPride singer and drag queen Courtney Act, who suffered a spiral fracture skiing at 2009’s LGBTQ festival only to grace the stage — in a wheelchair — a mere three days later.
“She decided to pick up some hot Canadian men and went to extreme lengths to do so and ended up going in for emergency surgery,” said WinterPride executive director Dean Nelson. “So we’re really looking forward to having a full-on Courtney Act act this year.”
The Australian Idol finalist’s performance will mark one of WinterPride’s most popular events this year, next Thursday’s (Jan. 30) Mr. Gay Canada Grand Finale and Fashion Show. It’s just one of many exciting things going on during the busy gay ski week, which runs from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2 at various venues.
With eight jam-packed days of programming and dozens of events that range from guided ski tours to friendly après meet-ups and raucous nighttime parties, Nelson said there’s something that will appeal to all of the more than 3,000 expected attendees.
“Our festival celebrates diversity, so we try and make the festival as inclusive as possible,” Nelson said. “We try and do different programming that will appeal to different segments, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
So without further ado, here is the Question’s guide to the 22nd annual WinterPride festival, highlighting some of the biggest events on the schedule.
Sunday, Jan. 26
DJ Buceey Bruce gets the party started in style with the WinterPride Welcome Party at Garf’s. Grab a pint or a cocktail and go meet some newcomers and festival regulars before you get WinterPride started on the right foot. The party starts at 9 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 27
After you’ve braved the outdoors on TAG Snowmobile’s FreshTracks BC tour, or picked up a few new skills during a ski tour of Whistler Mountain with LGBTQ guides, warm up at Maxx Fish from 9 p.m. for WinterPride’s Mixx & Mingle event. The interactive affair is designed to help you break the ice and meet new friends, or reconnect with old ones after plenty of drinks, games and beats provided by DJ Joni T.
Tuesday, Jan. 28
Venture into the Wild West for Buffalo Bills’ Cowboy and Cowgirl Party, where leather boots and 10-gallon Stetsons will be the encouraged attire.
Have a granddaddy of a good time starting at 9 p.m. with line dancing and classic country tunes by DJ Billy the Kidd, with special guests the Timberline Dance Troupe and all of this year’s Mr. Gay Canada delegates.
Wednesday, Jan. 29
Dressing in drag is never a drag at what has become a WinterPride staple, the Gender Bender Party at Garf’s.
Drag kings and queens will rule the land at this party, starting at 9 p.m., where accessories are a definite must and getting sweaty to the tunes of DJ Quest is highly recommended.
Thursday, Jan. 30
A handful of men will strut their stuff in everything from formal to fetish wear at the Whistler Conference Centre for the return of the Mr. Gay Canada Grand Finale and Fashion Show. All will be vying to represent Canada at Mr. Gay Worlds in Rome this summer.
Featuring a musical performance by the aforementioned Courtney Act, the night will also include 2013 Mr. Gay World winner and ballet artist Chris Olwage’s Black Swan-themed dance routine. Olwage is a guest celebrity judge for the competition along with Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.
Friday Jan. 31
Are you a sucker for a man in uniform? Then the Furrocious Military Ball at the Whistler Conference Centre should be No. 1 on your list of things to do this WinterPride.
Dress up in your finest military, police, leather or sports uniform and get down to the high-energy sound of Vancouver’s own Nick Bertossi, starting at 9 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 1
In case you thought this week was all about the boys, the Vancouver Dyke March Festival Society hosts the Women Of WinterPride at Garf’s for a circuit party like no other.
The evening will feature music from DJs Lisa De Lux and Kasey Riot at Whistler’s largest nightclub. Doors at 9 p.m.
Finally, put your party pants on (or better yet, leave them off) for WinterPride’s signature closing event, the Snowball Dance ‘Til Dawn, featuring two huge headliners — Barcelona’s own DJ Ivan Gomez and ‘Frisco superstar DJ Phil B.
This Euro-style circuit party at the conference centre won’t let up until 4 a.m., and will dazzle your senses with state-of-the-art lighting effects by Vancouver’s Showmax Events.
“We’re working with Showmax to create lighting effects that I don’t think Western Canada has ever seen yet,” Nelson said.
To get tickets and to view a full list of WinterPride events, visit www.gaywhistler.com.