Whistler’s WinterPRIDE Festival has grown from the pride party circles to being recognized as the top gay ski week in the world by PlanetOut in 2008, but now the 21 year history of this event is facing major growth challenges to compete with other pride events at top ski resorts. For years, Whistler has been recognized as one of the top places to come for the global LGBTQ community because of Whistler’s gay friendly liberal personality for accepting and celebrating who we are without the need to be fearful.
This year’s WinterPRIDE festival begins on Sunday, February 3rd, and has grown substantially to include four key themes of sports, culinary, health and wellness and entertainment. In addition, there is a larger focus on welcoming women with numerous WinterPRIDE female-oriented activities and talks. However, for a festival that started as a small gay ski week 21 years ago to one that was recently recognized as the top gay ski week in the world, Whistler’s WinterPRIDE Festival isn’t getting a lot of financial support from the local community for funds it needs to grow the event.
Whistler’s Lack of Financial Justification to Support WinterPRIDE Festival.
The challenge for all WinterPRIDE stakeholders is that Whistler Blackcomb’s recognition as the top ski resort in North America and one of the top ski resorts in the world draws record numbers of skiers and winter visitors every year. Unfortunately, the WinterPRIDE festival takes place in one of Whistler’s busiest months and has little need to financially support an event when the hotel occupancy rates are nearly sold out.
This may become an interesting topic at the Whistler Debates WinterPRIDE event on Wednesday night as attendees debate the role of celebrating pride in Whistler in an age where the LGBTQ community is becoming more and more accepted around the world.
While Whistler’s WinterPRIDE continues to grow the diversity of its events and themes, the festival also now overlaps with the new BC Family Day long weekend (Feb. 8-11) and may find an even tougher time to justify future economic support of one of the longest running gay ski weeks in the world. However, to keep the cost down for attendees, group accommodations at a vacation rental for Whistler’s WinterPRIDE may be something worth considering. This may help bring more attendees and ticket buyers to Whistler WinterPRIDE if the continued financial challenges hamper the growth of this 21 year long-running gay ski week festival.