It all started as one big boy bacchanalia dance party in South Beach for gay men. But now, the Winter Party Festival has evolved into a weeklong celebration of LGBTQ people from around the world, with 10 dance parties taking place in Miami-Dade County and one in Broward.
This year, the festival runs Feb. 28-March 6. In addition to events at the Kimpton Surfcomber and the Nautilus South Beach hotels, dance parties will be held at clubs such as Score, Club Space and Heart Nightclub.
“The first thing that’s new is that we really have a great change of venue for the Saturday-night and Sunday-night parties,” says Stephen Seo, the chair of Winter Party Festival. “Our guests want more space to dance and more production. So for the first time, we’re going to take the party to the James L. Knight Center.”
Hunters Nightclub in Wilton Manors will host a free party, and an art show will open at FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios. All proceeds benefit the National LGBTQ Task Force, which in turn donates a portion to local groups. The Task Force reports that last year it donated $300,000 to LGBTQ organizations in South Florida and estimates that over the years the total is close to $2.7 million.
This is the 25th edition of the Winter Party Festival, which started in 1994. Seo thinks the festival has endured for two reasons.
“Going back to the roots of Winter Party, we fight for the rights of LGBTQ people,” he says. “The purpose remains true even 25 years later. I would say even more so after the election. We realized an election can change everything. I see the volunteers more passionate than ever. The other part, and this is my background in marketing speaking, this is a brand that marketers would love to work on. People are incredibly passionate about and really, truly believe in the brand. We’re almost entirely volunteer-run. It has an energy about it that is incredibly unique.”
Winter Party Festival will take place Feb. 28-March 6 at various venues. Admission costs from $20 to $225. For more information or to buy tickets, go to WinterParty.com.