Winter may be a no-go for most places in the USA, but that's why God invented Palm Springs! For men and women of any persuasion who wish to get a bit of sun or take a dip in the pool or hear the best popular musicians or just get away from the snow and the cold, there are plenty of events in the first third of the year to choose from. Here are some of the most notable, and why they matter to Gay Palm Springs.
Links, schedule and appearance information will be updated as they become available.
International Bear Convergence
February 8-12, 2018
Celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2018, this four-day gathering is “the premier winter event for bears and their admirers.” Held at the Hard Rock Hotel in Downtown Palm Springs, the weekend features DJs by the pool during the day and energetic dance parties at night for “bears, muscle bears, cubs, chasers, chubs and admirers.” This year's gathering will feature a performance by the veteran dance chart-topper Martha Wash (“It's Raining Men”, with The Weather Girls; “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”, by C+C Music Factory), whose own early career was encumbered by an industry that considered a woman of her size to be “unmarketable.” Of course, IBC makes a point of welcoming all shapes and sizes, and, not for nothing, proceeds benefit AIDS Assistance Program / Food Samaritans Palm Springs.
Palm Springs Winter Warm-Up Presented by United Airlines
February 8-12, 2018
Coinciding with the convergence of international bears, the National Gay Pilots Association's flagship West Coast event lands at the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel in February. Friday takes off with the NGPA Industry Expo, which features talks from a flight attendant from US Airways Flight 1549 (which crash landed in the Hudson in 2010), and two retired air traffic controllers who worked on September 11, 2001. More uplifting events include banquets, barbeques, a performance from Chicago comedy duo Amy & Freddy, and the annual Queen of the Fleet contest.
Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend
March 28-April 1, 2018
First produced in 1991 by Mariah Hanson and named after the singer and women’s golf benefactor (Shore wasn’t gay, but the festival coincides with the LPGA Tour, which she founded), “The Dinah” is by many counts the largest lesbian event in the world. The weekend gathering and music festival draws crowds of 20,000+, and has developed a reputation for divining future music superstars in its performer lineup, including Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Kesha, Tegan and Sara, and early “get” The Pussycat Dolls. Event and performance schedules for 2018 are to be announced later this month.
Cathedral City LGBT Days
March 30-April 1, 2018
California’s first Pride event of the year lights up this next-door neighbor city to Palm Springs just as spring comes to the desert. This yearly event on the Civic Center Plaza gets the Pride season off to a great start with the 2018 theme “Remember the Past. Create the Future.” Featuring live performances by local and celebrity guests, a Battle of the Bars competition, variety shows, rainbow RV camping, pool and foam parties, Leather Fetish Ball, and the “LGBT Days Bed Race,” Cathedral City proves that Pride isn't just a creature of one month in the summer, but celebrates on the whole year round.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
April 13-22, 2018
Arguably the desert's biggest event will bring upwards of 250,000 people to Indio over two weekends for performances by headliners The Weeknd, Beyonce, and Eminem, plus tons of support acts at the Empire Polo Club. LGBT performers for this year include St. Vincent, Perfume Genius, Hayley Kiyoko, lead singer Lynn Gunn of PVRIS, and Declan McKenna.
Jeffrey Sanker Presents White Party Palm Springs
April 27-30, 2018
In certain circles, at least, Palm Springs is best known as the host locale of this massive dance party, attracting an eye-popping 30,000 beautiful people from all over the world. Promoter Jeffrey Sanker’s flagship circuit party features pool days in the sunlight at venues like the home base Renaissance Palm Springs hotel, enormous dance parties like the Sunday T-Dance under the big top, choreographed performances and exhibitions, a giant ferris wheel, and grand fireworks display timed along to the music. Events aren’t cheap (individual ticket prices range from around $60 for an afterparty to over $200 for a main event VIP) but with all those hot bodies and great music, who’s to say it isn’t worth every cent? And buying tickets early will save you a bundle, so there's no better time to do so than this very moment. Go on!
May 4-6, 2018
Blatino Oasis is a yearly gathering for gay and bisexual men of color, started in 2007. The retreat attracts over a thousand participants each year, drawn to Palm Springs as a place organizers endorse as “safer than most American and International destinations,” an appealing locale for a cohort that has seen persecution for matters of race as well as sexuality. Centered around the clothing optional resort CCBC in Cathedral City, events include a welcome reception, dance and pool parties, an awards and comedy brunch, and “erotic afterhours” at the cruisy CCBC resort.