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Special Guest Blogger: Barb Snelgrove

Ski vacations often involve the obvious choices: snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, maybe warm drinks by a fire but LGBTQ travelers attending GayWhistler’s WinterPRIDE 2013 can dig into a whole lot more. Food and wine tastings, a Mad Hatter party, progressive dinners, a pool party, burlesque performances, even a Mr. Gay Canada contest, WinterPRIDE (February 3-10, 2013) offers something for pretty much everyone! Throw in a mountain-top parade and daily T-dances and there’s almost more fun to be had than a single week can contain.

Whistler, long famous for deep powder, big mountains and inviting hospitality, pulls out all the stops when PRIDE comes to town and the result is one of the biggest and most inclusive winter celebrations on the world Pride circuit.

Whistler Mayor announces Pride Day LEFT: Happy WinterPRIDE attendees. RIGHT: Whistler Mayor announces official recognition of Gay Pride Week in Whistler.

“What makes Whistler special is that it’s the only civic government that has given civic status to a gay ski week,” says WinterPRIDE organizer Dean Nelson. “That is huge because it lets our guests know that not only the merchants but also the community is behind us and that is a big deal for many of our attendees who may not enjoy the same civil rights we have here in British Columbia.”

With so much to see and do, here are The Whistler Insider’s top 5 must-attend events for WinterPRIDE 2013. Enjoy!

1. Get some wind in your hair.

Whistler’s big mountains and long ski runs are world-renowned but WinterPRIDE also boasts a veritable potpourri of other fun outdoor activities including snowmobiling, breathtaking snowshoe tours, exhilarating inner tubing, zip-lining, a 5K run/walk and bobsleigh on the Whistler Sliding Centre‘s 2010 Winter Games track.

2. Ski or Snowboard in a parade.

Why march when you can slide? WinterPRIDE 2012 saw the start of a truly unique tradition as hundreds of participants skied an over-sized rainbow flag down the mountainside where it was then hoisted aloft and paraded through Whistler’s pedestrian Village attracting tourists and locals alike. The Ski Out and March is one of the most boisterous events of the week and occurs on the afternoon of February 7th, 2013. Everyone is welcome to celebrate, after all, when was the last time you marched in ski boots?

Happy WinterPride participants

3. Everybody Dance Now.

It wouldn’t be Pride without the parties and WinterPRIDE pulls out all the stops! From daily Après Ski get-togethers and numerous minglers at local watering holes, to the specialty parties such as the women’s PURRlesque dance, the FURRocious “Bear” party, the popular Pool bash or the legendary SNOWBALL, there is definitely a party for everyone and every budget. Check out all the complete line up of diverse events and custom-pick your faves.

4. And The Winner Is…

After a host of preliminary contests held across the country the Mr. Gay Canada contest culminates in Whistler at WinterPRIDE 2013. Fielding questions, performing runway “struts,” and modeling the latest in leather and (of course) swimwear, the winner will represent Canada at the Mr. Gay World Contest in Belgium. This year’s event features Chad Michaels of the hit reality series RuPaul’s Drag Race and Canadian recording artists DESTINEAK. This is a definite addition to your Pride week bucket list.

 Pool party

5. Oh Heeeyyyyyy!

5. Oh Heeeyyyyyy! Seeing and being seen is practically an event unto itself at any Pride function and as people watching is almost an official sport in Whistler, THIS is the time to truly “strike a pose”. With restaurants and pubs around every corner, Whistler Village offers ample opportunity to show off your latest “ski suit” at one of the many outdoor seating areas. There are also are a multitude of shops in case you need to upgrade your winter wardrobe to stand out in the crowd.


5. Ladies, start your engines!

Not to be outdone by the boys, the women of WinterPRIDE have seen a definite increase in numbers in recent years and WinterPRIDE features two signature events for the ladies in 2013. Don’t miss the PURRlesque (Burlesque performers melt the snow with some of the top entertainers in the field) and the always packed WOW (Women of Whistler) closing party. Check out all the details for these any any other pride events at and hit up for accommodation or more information on Whistler. See you on the slopes!

WinterPride Parade


Feet Banks moved to Whistler at age 12 so his parents could live the dream and ski as much as possible. He ended up living it too. After leaving home Feet did a few good stints in warmer climates and 4 years of writing school before returning to the mountains to make ski movies, hammer out a journalism career and avoid the 9-5 lifestyle as long as possible. He’s been a hay farmer, a hole digger, a magazine editor and has a jump named after him on Blackcomb Mountain, Feet’s Air. It’s tiny.