For those that travel the party circuit, there are a few musts and one of those is the Winter Party Festival (WPF), taking place this weekend, Feb. 27 - March 5, right here in South Florida.
While the majority of the action is centered around Miami, there are a few parties that work their way up the coast. Of course, there are also the boys who come from all over the world and want to learn more about the legendary Wilton Manors/Fort Lauderdale night life.
Founded in 1994, the original Winter Party featured just one event, a dance party on the sands of South Beach. In the years since, WPF has grown into an iconic week-long celebration featuring dozens of events and drawing crowds by the thousands from around the globe; an amazing mix of people, music, entertainment and international DJ talent ready to soak up the sun, breathe in the ocean air, and play hard.
The WPF is produced by the National LGBTQ Task Force, and a large percentage of the gross proceeds from WPF support the Task Force’s efforts to create change for LGBTQ people. A significant amount of the remaining proceeds is donated to local service organizations through a grant-making process administered by the Miami Foundation.
This year’s theme - With Open Arms - focuses on the organization’s dedication and specific efforts to make WPF a welcoming environment for all. In 2018, a study conducted by the Task Force and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau articulated that 55 percent of attendees at WPF identify as non-Caucasian. This year, organizers worked to diversify the talent on the DJ roster by including more women, featuring the skills of Sharon O Love (making her U.S. debut), Anne Louise and Morabito behind the turntables.
"Winter Party Festival has always been friendly and inclusive,” Festival Chair Rene Wolfensberger said. “This year we wanted to turn it up a notch and encourage everyone to welcome each other with open arms. It's an international gesture of inclusion and ties into our vision statement: ‘Bringing the world together to create change while celebrating you.’”
In 2018, the Task Force donated $215,000 to the LGBTQ Community Fund at the Miami Foundation, for a total of nearly $3 million given back since the Task Force began producing the event in 2005.
Pool parties are among the most popular occurrences at WPF and this year there is a new angle to the action. The traditional pool party, “Under One Sun” event is instead being held at the Nikki Beach Club, Miami’s premiere outdoor oceanfront club. There is no pool at this venue, although Nikki Beach Club will allow more guests to enjoy a party on the beach. For those missing the aroma of that heady mixture of chlorine and poppers, Vagabundos Pool Party, will be held again, this year on Friday March 1 at the Gates Hotel. Vagabundos will be the only pool party at WPF in 2019.
There are a number of free events; including the welcome party on Wednesday, Feb. 27, featuring RuPaul’s Drag Raceall-star, Chad Michaels at the Shelborne Hotel on South Beach. “Sweat” with a focus on leather and fetish, brings the action to Hunters with DJ Barry Harris on Saturday, March 2, is another of the free events. However, the majority of WPF parties require tickets, which can be purchased individually or as part of the event’s passes.
WPF provides print-at-home or text to mobile event tickets through Showclix. WPF uses barcoded wristbands for multi-event passes. Online pass purchasers receive an email voucher which they exchange for a wristband. Wristbands are worn throughout the festival and cannot be removed or shared. Passes can only be purchased online.
For more information on tickets and prices for all events, go to WinterParty.com.
Schedule of Events
Wednesday, Feb. 27
Welcome Center Grand Opening*
Shelborne South Beach Hotel
Paradise: Deja-Vu Riviera Live
Thursday, Feb. 28
Localize* @ Hotel Gaythering
Ignite @ Mr. Jones
Friday, March 1
Vagabundos Pool Party @ Gates Hotel South Beach
Sunny Side Up Brunch @ Palace Bar
VIP Cocktail Reception @ The Carlton Hotel at The Betsy South Beach
Heat @ Club Space
Saturday, March 2
Under One Sun – Evolution @ Nikki Beach Club
Illuminate* @ Palace Bar
Theater Soirée – Every Brilliant Thing @ The Adrienne Arsht Center
Sweat* @ Hunters Nightclub
Masterbeat Odyssey: A New Era @ James L. Knight Center
Sunday, March 3
The Beach Party @ Sands of South Beach
Masterbeat: Avalanche @ James L. Knight Center
Monday, March 4
Afterglow @ The Hangar
Action! Finale @ Treehouse
* denotes free event