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.
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
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
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
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.