Outdoor hot tubs, cuddling by the fire and risqué trips to the sauna are just a few staples of a gay Canadian winter. While some Canucks are tempted to flee south for the colder months, those that are willing to brave the cold are often rewarded.
In a country as large as Canada, narrowing down your travel search can get overwhelming. Colin Sines, president of Travel Gay Canada offers up his top five Canadian gay winter getaways.
#5. Kelowna, BC — Sommelier-led food and wine paired tastings
(Kelowna, BC. Tourism Kelowna)
Winter in Kelowna is all about wine, food and more wine.
There couldn’t be a better time to visit wine country than winter! (Not that there’s ever a bad time for wine . . . ) Kelowna wineries are exhaling after busy summer traffic, and specialized programming allows visitors to have a much more intimate, one-on-one experience at their wineries. Several offer special winter events such as the sommelier-led food and wine paired tastings at CedarCreek, or the Westside Wine Trail events those put on around Valentine’s Day. With food, entertainment and of course wine, Kelowna offers endless ways to spend a romantic Valentine’s Day with vino in-hand.
#4. Quebec City, QC — Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
(Quebec City, QC. Québec Original)
Mountains just minutes from Quebec’s historic downtown.
Rich with history, Quebec’s capital is full of opportunity for any cultural enthusiast. Quebec City is also home to Carnaval de Québec, the world’s largest winter carnival, which takes place in January and February. The city’s gay scene runs along portions of quaint rue Saint-Jean, a street packed with cafés, bars and boutiques just outside the walls of the Old City.
Close proximity to multiple hills provides an added benefit for snow bunnies, and since snow doesn’t last forever, Quebecers make the most of it while it’s around! Frosty, foggy, fabulously snowy or dazzlingly sunny, the city has something for everyone to do.
#3. Jasper, AB — Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
(Jasper, AB. Jasper Canadian Rockies)
Hit the slopes at this World Heritage Site.
Jasper has long been known as gay-friendly, eclectic and open-minded, not to mention home to some of Canada’s best skiing. The snowy city warmly welcomes diversity, attracting travellers and adventure-seekers from all over the world. An LGBT-friendly travel destination, designated Dark Sky Preserve, and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jasper welcomes all those prepared to venture beyond the everyday.
Lodges throughout the park offer a perfect escape for couples and families alike. Early booking can lead to big savings, such as the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s “Ski for Free” deal.
#2. Niagara, ON — Icewine Festival: Jan 15–31, 2016
(Niagara, ON. Niagara Wine Festival)
Celebrating 20 years of liquid gold.
The person responsible for uniting alcohol and dessert deserves a national holiday, or at the very least a festival. For three weekends in January the Niagara Region is transformed into a wintry wonderland, celebrating one of Canada’s most cherished products — Ontario icewine. From gala evening toasts to chestnut roasts, ornate ice bars, ice skating and winery tours, the 21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival offers plenty for every taste.
#1. Whistler, BC — Whistler Pride: Jan 23–31, 2016
(Whistler, BC. Whistler Pride)
One way or another you’re sure to work up a sweat during this week-long party.
Our list wouldn’t be complete without including the coldest Pride party in Canada. From Thursday, Jan 21–Sunday, Jan 31, 3,000 guests from around the world descend on Whistler to partake in the 24th annual Whistler Pride and Ski Festival. Boasting a spectacular thigh-burning vertical mile, Whistler and Blackcomb are home to some of the longest runs in North America.
Expect daily après ski parties and night time theme events. Get your gear ready for the traditional long john party at Moe Joe’s and cowboy night at Buffalo Bill’s. It may be January but that doesn’t stop Whistler Pride from showing some skin — it’s sure to get a bit nippy out. Whistler’s Pride’s combination of parties and outdoor adventure earn it the top spot on our list.
(For information on these destinations and more check out the newly updated Travel Gay Canada website. TGC is Canada’s one stop for LGBT Canadian destinations. As Canada’s only national LGBT tourism industry association, TGC provides information to LGBT travellers to connect them to unique and vast travel opportunities and experiences available within Canada.
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