The dates of Gay Ski Week vary by resort, but one thing is consistent across the board — the word “ski” is used very loosely in practice. You can hop on one or two planks and hit the mountain as much as you wish — there’s always a group of diehards ready to hike the bowl if that’s what you’re into — but the real action begins with the après-ski scene around 3:00 PM and stretches deep into the evening. Parties last anywhere from a few days to a full week, but you’ll learn on night one why dancing, drag, and fine dining are better at altitude. Here’s everything you need to know about the best gay ski weeks.
Aspen Gay Ski Week, Aspen, Colorado
January 12-19, 2020
Aspen is the anchor of the Gay Ski Week concept, hosting its annual week-long ticketed event since 1977. Don’t show up unless you’re ready for a full-on throwdown. The event is a three-way mashup of a festival, conference, and drag party, complete with an opening cocktail reception at the Hotel Jerome and town-wide decor that would make the artists of San Francisco’s Castro District proud. The event offers guided on-mountain tours of both Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands throughout the week, nightly dinners, and après-ski events, but what you really come for is the parties. The legendary AGSW Downhill Costume Contest takes place on January 17, and there are dance parties and after-hours events on the daily. Passes start at $375.
Utah Gay Ski Week, Park City, Utah
February 26-March 1, 2020
Elevation Utah heads to Park City to throw the best LGBTQ party in the state each February, a long weekend that is at once both raging and fantastically quaint. Park City is the epitome of everything a ski town should be: chalet-style lodging that almost convinces you that you’re in Switzerland, fine-dining establishments set in buildings that look like they used to be a schoolhouse, a bus that drops you right at the slopes, and, even in Utah, a baller après-ski scene.
The one party you absolutely cannot miss is called GEAR. On the second to last night, don whatever eccentric gear you have — preferably made of leather — and hit the dance floor at O.P. Rockwell until the chafing sets in. The night before is the infamous STAG party. A VIP Weekend Pass runs just $200, and you’ll save 40 percent off that price if you happen to live in Utah. You can also buy individual event passes. Utah Gay Ski Week grew popular enough that Elevation now hosts additional Gay Ski Week parties in Mammoth Lakes, CA, (March 18-22) and Tremblant, Quebec, (January 30-February 2) should one of those locations be more to your liking.
Telluride Gay Ski Week, Telluride, Colorado
February 22-29, 2020
Aspen gets all the glamour. Not only is the town the spitting image of all things expensive and chic, but it also gets the cheesy movies, the iconic writers, and lest we forget, the most notorious gay ski week. It may not seem fair, but don’t go booking that private jet just yet. There’s actually a small town down in southern Colorado where you can dress up just as provocatively, party just as hard, and spend at least as much money for accommodations. That town is Telluride, which played host to the filming of a far more badass movie and is also known to throw a killer party now and then. Plus, the on-mountain experience is better than Aspen’s, proven beyond a doubt by the selfie you’re bound to take as you ski right by Oprah’s mountain home.
Telluride Gay Ski Week mixes dog-sledding and ice skating with drag queens and dance parties, a combination sure to whet your fire even if you only spend one day on the hill. There are daily après-ski parties and group skiing, and you definitely want to hit the Friday night drag show at the historic Sheridan Opera House.
Whistler Pride & Ski Festival, Whistler, BC, Canada
January 26-February 2, 2020
Whoever said “everything is bigger in Texas” clearly hasn’t been to Whistler. Whistler/Blackcomb has over 8,000 skiable acres, making it North America’s largest ski area, and the parties in the three villages that make up the resort’s extensive base area are equally as huge. Whistler Pride & Ski Festival, the town’s annual pride event, takes over the village each January. After your pick of fetish parties, dinner parties, dance parties, and the closing party, you’re definitely not going to return home refreshed and rejuvenated. And that’s before you even get any skiing in.
At some point, you may realize you didn’t spend enough time taking in the mind-blowing natural beauty of the BC high country, but it’s all good — your crew likely has plenty of photos of you minimally dressed and shrieking with a mountain in the background. And if not, you can stare longingly out the window as you nurse your aching head on the Sea-to-Sky Highway while riding back to the Vancouver airport.
Arosa Gay Ski Week, Arosa, Switzerland
January 18-25, 2020
Arosa basically pioneered the gay ski week concept before there was even a label for it. Its location in Eastern Switzerland is more than worth the trip because the resort is hands down the world’s most gay-friendly ski area. The flag flies here all season, literally, not just for one week each January — so if you’re a skier looking for the right time to make a jaunt overseas, this might just be the moment. Arosa Gay Ski Week is not only a celebration but also a full-on right of passage for Europe’s gay skiing community. The fact that you’re partying above the treeline with the Weisshorn and Rothorn in the background only amplifies the awesomeness.
A top-tier pass runs about $245 and offers access to the constant schedule of parties, demos, and private get-togethers throughout the week. The event is known for its disco parties but also allows for plenty of time to sunbathe in the Tschuggen hut, relax over cocktails in the base area, play a game of ice hockey, and maybe even get some skiing in.
A version of this article was previously published on December 7, 2018, and was updated on January 13, 2020 with more information.