Photo: LOVELOUD/Facebook

Every Single LGBTQ Event in the US You Need to Go to in 2020

LGBTQIA+ Travel Insider Guides
by John Garry Feb 14, 2020

Let’s get one thing straight — LGBTQ people know how to throw one hell of a party, and in the United States, there’s no shortage of creativity when it comes to curating a queer shindig. From ski-slope soirees to fetish-themed festivals, the only thing more difficult than choosing which events to attend in 2020 is choosing who to vote for in the Democratic primary. Luckily, choosing from this list of epic LGBTQ gatherings is a win-win situation.

Editor’s note: Queer culture doesn’t begin and end with Pride month, and while a zillion epic Pride events take place in the United States throughout the year, this list focuses exclusively on non-Pride related parties that appeal to all kinds of interests.


Photo: Elevation Gay Ski Week/Facebook

Elevation Utah — This February, Park City’s powder slopes are getting a little more fabulous for Elevation’s gay ski week. In addition to hitting world-class ski courses with the rest of the homos, attendees can choose from a series of apres-ski events, dinners, and dance parties offered all weekend long. The event caters to a predominantly male crowd and prides itself on being a laid-back event that’s great for making new friends.

Where: Park City, Utah
When: February 26-March 1


Photo: Winter Party Festival/Facebook

Winter Party — Miami’s six-day music festival is the perfect excuse to ditch America’s cold weather climes, don your most daring speedo, and dance until dawn all week long. Don’t worry — this iconic circuit party, going strong since 1994, isn’t only about hips gyrating to house music — a portion of the proceeds goes to the National LGBTQ task force, which supports 80 nonprofit organizations in South Florida. The Roundup, a multi-day conference for LGBTQ individuals in a 12-step recovery program, is happening in Miami simultaneously this year.

Where: Miami, Florida
When: March 4-10

Elevation: Mammoth — Located a scenic 45-minute drive from Yosemite National Park, Elevation’s gay ski week at California’s Mammoth Lakes is a picturesque place to get sweaty on both the ski slopes and the dance floor. This unpretentious gathering, now in its 18th year, regularly attracts 2,500 skiers for five days of outdoor adventures and indoor shindigs.

Where: Mammoth Lakes, California
When: March 18-22


Dinah Shore Weekend — Every spring, thousands of women gather in the desert to celebrate all things female for five days filled with pool parties and all-night dance ragers. Now in its 30th year, Dinah’s long-term success is undoubtedly due to its spirit of inclusivity. You’ll find lesbians of all ages, races, and identities among the diverse crowd. Fun Fact: Dinah Shore, the entertainer after whom the party is named, was not a lesbian herself — she just happened to throw popular golf tournaments in the 1970s that were infamous for attracting gay women. The legacy lives on!

Where: Palm Springs, California
When: April 1-6

Spring Diversity Weekend — This unassuming enclave nestled in the Ozarks is an LGBTQ haven, and several times throughout the year, the town hosts a Diversity Weekend featuring drag shows, pool parties, and family-friendly entertainment to celebrate their queer community. The April festivities are an ideal time to visit — the steep hillside town comes alive with the first signs of spring.

Where: Eureka Spring, Arkansas
When: April 3-5

Photo: Saint At Large/Facebook

The Black Party — New York’s hedonistic fetish fete is a springtime celebration of sex and debauchery. Wear your favorite harness and dance until you drop (to your knees). Be warned: This dance party is heavily boy-flavored, and if others plan to attend, they should possess an unflappable sense of sexual adventure.

Where: New York City
When: April 4-5

Cherry Weekend — Cherry trees aren’t the only thing in full bloom during this annual springtime DC dance party — the local gays emerge from hibernation just in time for this shirtless-boy soiree, too. The Cherry Fund, which organizes the party, is the country’s longest-running non-profit queer dance festival; since its inception, they’ve raised $1.3 million in support of mental health and HIV/AIDS service organizations. This year marks the event’s 25th anniversary.

Where: Washington, DC
When: April 16-20

White Party — With over 30,000 people in attendance every year, this Palm Springs music festival is one of the largest LGBTQ circuit parties in the United States. The line-up always makes it worth shipping yourself out to the desert for at least one packed pool party and a pop star sighting — past performers include the likes of JLo, Mary J. Blige, and Kesha.

Where: Palm Springs, California
When: April 24-27


Photo: RuPaul’s DragCon/Facebook

RuPaul’s DragCon — If you know that Alaska is way more than a state and Aquaria isn’t just the plural of”aquarium,” you’ll have a hoot meeting the fishiest and funniest queens in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory. On top of getting some one-on-one time with America’s drag superstars, visitors can attend talkbacks, watch live performances, and spend three full days gagging on all the eleganza.

Where: Los Angeles, California
When: May 1-3

Purple Party — Thousands of people flock to Dallas every spring for this circuit-queen mainstay, which bills itself as the largest non-profit, volunteer-run dance party in the country. The Purple Party is one of several events thrown by the Purple Foundation, which raises money for those affected by HIV/AIDS and in support of the local LGBTQ community.

Where: Dallas, Texas
When: May 7-11

International Mr. Leather — IML is basically the Miss America competition, only the pageant queens are burly dudes decked out in fetish gear, and the title for which they’re competing is International Mister Leather. Chicago’s premier leather event features myriad fetish-forward dance parties and meet-ups where contestants mix and mingle with attendees throughout the week.

Where: Chicago, Illinois
When: May 21-25

Sizzle — Memorial Day Weekend in Miami is for men of melanin. Sizzle, a circuit festival catering to gay black men since 2002, serves up five days of late-night raves, all-day pool parties, and at least one well-attended takeover of the naturist section at Haulover Beach.

Where: Miami, Florida
When: May 21-25

AIDS/LifeCycle — AIDS/Lifecycle, the seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, may sound like a real banana-seat in the ass, but for many who participate, it’s a joyful, life-changing experience. Since the event began in 1993, participants have raised over $200 million to help fund services related to HIV/AIDS, and the friendships formed along the bike route last long after the ride ends.

Where: San Francisco to Los Angeles, California
When: May 31-June 6


Photo: LOVELOUD/Facebook

LoveLoud Festival — Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds founded Salt Lake City’s LoveLoud Festival in 2017 to raise awareness and understanding for the LGBTQ community. Benefits from the concert — which feature the top names in EDM, pop, rock, and hip-hop — benefit LGBTQ organizations around the nation.

Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
When: Dates in June TBD. Check the website for more info.

One Magical Weekend — This annual trip to the House of Mouse is half circuit party, half fairytale fantasia. Put them together, and what’ve you got? One Magical Weekend! A portion of the proceeds goes to KindRED Pride Foundation, a non-profit that promotes diversity, equality, and inclusion. Girls in Wonderland, a non-affiliated Orlanda-based circuit party for lesbians, happens to take place at the same weekend, and for a good reason. On the first Saturday in June, LGBTQ individuals are encouraged to wear red shirts within Disney World to promote awareness and acceptance for queer folks.

Where: Orlando, Florida
When: June 4-8

Trans March — The Friday before San Francisco’s epic Pride celebrations, the Bay Area’s trans community has a march of its own. Since the inaugural parade in 2004, this volunteer-run event has grown into one of the largest trans-focused gatherings in the world. A series of speakers and performers takes to the stage post-parade, followed by a handful of afterparties catering to the trans community.

Where: San Francisco, California
When: June 26

LadyLand — For the past two years, Ladyfag (the queen of NYC’s nightlife scene behind bashes like Battle Hymn and Holy Mountain) has thrown one of the most prized events during Pride weekend: a two-day queer music festival featuring a seriously dope lineup of LGBTQ artists. Hosted in the open-air Brooklyn Mirage, the immersive event space is reason enough to check out the festivities; everything else is rainbow-colored icing on the cake.

Where: Brooklyn, New York
When: Dates in June TBD. Check the website for more info.


Events on Fire Island

Photo: Pines Party/Facebook

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, this car-free sandbar on the Long Island Sound becomes one of the country’s go-to gay getaways. While there’s most likely a wild party to attend every weekend, these two events are the island’s most popular:

Invasion of the Pines — After a wig-wearing lad was denied entry at a Fire Island Pines restaurant in 1976, a gaggle of drag queens hopped on a boat in nearby Cherry Grove and stormed the Pines Harbor in protest. The invasion was so popular that queens revive the happening every July 4 for thousands of onlookers. Like an ultra-campy passion play, this is the perfect way to kick off celebrations honoring the red, white, and blue… and every other color in the rainbow.

Where: Fire Island Pines, New York
When: July 4

Pines Party — Fire Island’s most hyped event is the Pines Party — a weekend-long circuit festival where mostly naked men dance under the stars until the sun comes up. There’s a new theme every year, and revelers always come dressed to impress. Local lodging fills up quickly for this weekend, and those looking to attend should start planning their trip ASAP.

Where: Fire Island Pines, New York
When: July 24-26

Events in Provincetown

Photo: Provincetown For Women/Facebook

In summer, the population of this quaint Cape Cod village swells from 3,000 to 60,000. Although the events for LGBTQ folks are seemingly endless and all-inclusive, certain weekends cater to specific crowds. Choose your weekend wisely.

Bear Weekend — The bears go wild during this week dedicated to furry men and their admirers. Don’t worry — there’s no need for bear spray. These burly boys are a welcoming bunch.

Where: Provincetown, Massachusetts
When: July 11-18

Girl Splash — Lesbians and those who love them dominate the streets of P-town for this week filled with shows, dance parties, and meet-ups geared toward women.

Where: Provincetown, Massachusetts
When: July 23-27

Gay Wine Weekend — This LGBTQ gathering in Sonoma County’s wine country is a week-long palate pleaser. With tours and tastings at local wineries, food and wine pairings created by the area’s best chefs, and a Twilight T-Dance in Northern California’s rolling hillside to cap it all off, this laid-back weekend is an ideal way to unwind with chosen family.

Where: Sonoma, California
When: July 16-22

OutFest — With screenings of over 200 movies, LA’s 11-day queer film festival is a must-do for LGBTQ folks in and around Hollywood.

Where: Los Angeles, California
When: July 16-26


Photo: Alexey Kamenskiy/Shutterstock

Rendezvous — LGBTQ nature enthusiasts have been pitching tents together since 1992 at Rendezvous, the largest LGBTQ Pride camping event in the Rocky Mountain region. Located in Medicine Bow National Forest between Laramie and Cheyenne, this five-day outing is open to people with all levels of outdoor experience. If you’re having trouble pitching that tent, don’t fret — one of the 500+ attendees is bound to give you a helping hand.

Where: Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming
When: August 5-9

Market Days — Chicago’s 39th annual Northalsted Market Days is a two-day outdoor festival with five stages of live performances and nearly 100,000 annual attendees. A half-mile stretch of Halstead Street, which runs through the heart of historic Boystown, shuts down so the party can take over. The largest queer street festival in the Midwest, this popular summer party attracts diverse crowds from around the country.

Where: Chicago, Illinois
When: August 8-9

Carnival — Nearly 90,000 visitors flock to Provincetown for this week filled with art fairs, costume balls, and Bacchanalian bashes. It all leads up to the Carnival Parade, which will take place on Thursday, August 20. This year’s theme is “holidays” — don’t forget to bring your sexy Santa outfit.

Where: Provincetown, Massachusetts
When: August 15-22

Transmission — Located in Upper Lake, California, Transmission is a four-day wilderness retreat for trans, non-binary, and genderqueer people featuring workshops and activities where guests can reconnect with nature and build community all at the same time.

Where: Upper Lake, California
When: Dates in August TBD. Check the website for more info.


Southern Decadence — The corner of Bourbon Street and Ann Street is always the center of queer life in New Orleans, but from the Wednesday before Labor Day until the Tuesday following, it feels like the center of the universe. Nicknamed “gay Mardi Gras,” this carnal carnival celebrating summer’s end turns the city’s historic French Quarter into an adult Disneyland for the entire LGBTQ community.

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: September 3-7

Folsom Street Fair — Folsom ain’t your grandma’s street fair — unless, of course, your grandma owns a leather harness, a puppy mask, and is into some serious nipple play. Either way, around 400,000 people ranging from fetish-curious first-timers to BDSM connoisseurs fill the streets of SoMa for San Francisco’s annual leather event. Although this festival isn’t nearly as hardcore as it used to be (Up Your Alley now scratches that itch), perusing the many booths selling sex toys and giving live performances is still a delightful window into the BDSM lifestyle.

Where: San Francisco, California
When: September 27


Photo: Aqua Girl/Facebook

Aqua Girl — At this time of year, no one is wearing swimsuits in the north, but the girls in Miami are still getting wet at Aqua Girl — a Miami Beach party geared toward the lesbian community. Billed as the country’s largest gay women’s charity event, a portion of the proceeds go to the Aqua Foundation for Women, a Florida-based LGBTQ non-profit.

Where: Miami, Florida
When: Dates will be announced once an event space is booked. Check the website for more info.

Gay Days Anaheim — A sea of red shirts swarms California’s Disneyland every October for Gay Days Anaheim — a three-day festival celebrating the LGBTQ community in the Happiest Place on Earth. Over 30,000 people participate in the family-friendly event every year. Disneyland doesn’t officially sponsor the bash, so it’s best to check the Gay Days Anaheim website for details.

Where: Anaheim, California
When: October 2-4

Events in Provincetown

In case you missed out on Provincetown’s summer activities, two autumn weekends attract large groups of LGBTQ folks, making the trip to Cape Cod worthwhile.

Women’s Week: Last year, P-town hosted over 350 events during this celebration, including whale watching, wine tastings, live shows, and dance parties. The plans for 2020 are equally ambitious. If you’re reticent to visit a New England beach town in October, don’t be — you’ll beat the summer heat and get to enjoy some seasonal leaf-peeping during your stay.

Where: Provincetown, Massachusetts
When: October 12-18

Spooky Bear Weekend: What better place to celebrate gay Christmas than in the country’s most gay-friendly resort town? Provincetown turns into a perpetual costume party in honor of the homo-riffic High Holy Day with plenty of tricks and treats to be had throughout the week. Accommodations fill up fast — plan well in advance if you’d like to attend.

Where: Provincetown, Massachusetts
When: October 29-November 1


San Francisco Transgender Film Festival — In 1997, San Francisco became the first city in North America to host a transgender film festival. Today, the festival’s mission remains the same: provide opportunities for trans and gender-nonconforming artists to share their voices on the big screen, and engage audiences in creating a dialogue that reaches out long after the festival ends.

Where: San Francisco, California
When: Dates in November still TBD; film submissions are open from May 1-August 21. Check the website for more info.

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