If you’re anything like me, you don’t let something as small as winter get in the way of a good party and thankfully, neither do the folks down in Palm Springs. The most popular and longest-running LGBT festival in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs Pride is definitely one to put on the bucket list. The whole event takes place against the beautiful backdrop of downtown, which is home to an enormous LGBT community, both seasonal and residential. Given the strength of this amazing community, it is no wonder that the city also holds two other popular LGBT events — Palm Springs Leather Pride Weekend and White Party Palm Springs in the spring.
Originating in 1968, the Palm Springs Gay Pride initially began as a social dinner and variety show in the grand ballroom of the Riviera Palm Springs Resort. The first parade comprised of 35 units and made its way from Williams Road to Mesquite into Demuth Park where the festival was held. Since then, it has flourished into one of the biggest gay pride celebrations in the world, welcoming more than 130,000 people annually. The event now consists of a downtown block party held on Saturday evening along the gay bar strip on Arenas Road, a pride parade on Sunday morning and a free Palm Springs Pride Festival with five stages held on all three days of the weekend.
Holding the festival in November might seem like a crazy choice to anyone outside of California, but is a pretty logical move as the summers in Palm Springs can reach a scorching 122℃. And we all know that sweating is not a cute look on the podium! The winter months are far more manageable with temperatures reaching a respectable 78℃; though it will still be sunny, so don’t forget your sunscreen! As it will still be pretty warm, so make sure you plan your wardrobe accordingly. Packing lots of short shorts (obviously) and t-shirts is always a good idea as well as your usual summertime parade attire. And glitter, of course! Remember to take some fancy clothes as well to look smart enough for a casino or a luxurious dinner for two in case you fancy taking a breather from all the action and indulging your glamorous side.
There are a whole host of big-name entertainers lined up for this year’s event including Unsung Lilly, Vanity Halston, and DJ Aaron C. You can also join HRC’s Palm Springs Garden Party and if you’re feeling up to it, don your running shoes for the 5K run and walk held on Saturday morning. Picking accommodation can seem like a daunting prospect as there are so many gay (often clothing optional!) resorts to choose from. If you’re looking for more mainstream accommodations, head to the super-trendy Ace Hotel or The Westcott. The Bearfoot Inn and Canyon Club Hotel are also great options for a social gay bathhouse vibe.
The city’s gay bars and restaurants have a ton of events lined up for the weekend, so make sure you check out the local guides for what’s on to avoid missing out. Blackbook is perfect for grabbing some nachos before hitting the strip, and there are events on every night at Hunters Nightclub on the East Arenas Road. For sophistication, eclectic decor and menu items, check out EIGHT 4 NINE, and if inspired Vietnamese-American is your thing, check out Rooster and The Pig, which offers fresh cocktails and signature dishes like the crunchy Jasmine tea leaf salad.
Don’t spend the winter feeling miserable. Head to Palm Springs and keep the party going!