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When you think of “Gay Travel” certainly gay cruises, circuit parties, or clothing-optional guesthouses come to mind. But what about the ancient city of Varanasi? The Zambezi or Victoria Falls in the heart of Africa? Or a spiritual retreat high in the mountains of Tibet? Newly launched Wilde Travels is set out to change that – and offer a 10 percent savings to first-time customers through August 31, 2012.
Following the Miami-based company’s soft-launch in April, owner Jacob Marek – a former marketing manager for the Kenya Tourist board and a Patagonian tour company – officially pressed the “Go” button on the luxury tour operations with an emphasis on gay and gay-friendly guides, boutique accommodations, and above all customization. No gay group tours here (for now).
As dependable as the swallows of Capistrano, and quite possibly as majestic, there’s no surer sign that Spring has sprung (as well as your libido) than the annual invasion of our Men in White. For those of in you New York City – or fans of Sex in the City re-runs – you know what I’m talking about, and for those of you watching from afar, here’s two simple words you’ll remember forever once you experience it: Fleet! Week!
Since 1984 a small armada of vessels dock in NYC harbor to honor the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. over Memorial Day Weekend – this year May 26 to June 2 – releasing their uniformed crew the to carouse with the locals, titillate the tourists, and all around impress with their starched sculptedness. And of course, feature military demonstrations, tours of boats, musical performances, yada yada . . . Did we mention there are sailor balls?! This year, you can also get in on the action with some exclusive hotel deals. Read more
Does the trill of a songbird remind you of a diva crescendoing against a dance beat? Is that eruption of color in a bed of tulips conjure images of an unfurled rainbow flag? It’s official: You’ve got Pride fever. And Hilton Hotels has the cure with their new “Stay Hilton. Go Out.” package, now available at 140 properties worldwide (including the Grand Vacations brand). Never too early to start planning for the season.
Booking entitles you to celebration-friendly amenities such as:
- Reduced room rates (more beer money)
- Double Hilton HHonors points (quicker access to the fab life)
- Late check-out (when available, hangover be damned)
- Free high-speed Internet (Facebook won’t know what hit it)
- Free 1-year digital subscription to OUT (the world’s leading magazine for the world’s leading gays)
Also, as a premier partner of events such as London WorldPride 2012, The Advocate 45th Anniversary, and the IGLTA gay travel association, they are offering one lucky winner a free 6-night VIP getaway to Gay Days Orlando – including airfare – from May 29 to June 4. Read more
Despite what our grandparents and old Hollywood romances try to convince, finding a soulmate wasn’t all soft lighting and sharing milkshakes at soda fountains. If you were gay or lesbian in the first half of the century, dating, let alone marriage, was all but a pipe dream. So as the recent victories in Washington and Maryland bolster our spirits, comes the perfect reminder what it’s all about: love. From the award-winning Sean Dorsey Dance comes The Secret History of Love at the Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco, March 29-April 1. A national tour follows later in the year.
Combining his signature combination of modern dance, theater, and storytelling – in other words, even if you think of dance as “cryptic,” as I do, you’ll get it – Dorsey explores the real-life way that queer and transgender people managed to find (and love!) each other in decades past, from 1920s speakeasies to wartime love affairs and steamy underground cabarets, even as it “dared not speak its name.” Read more
Although we were mildly horrified by the snowfall in New York City over Halloween weekend (how apropos), that quickly faded into elation: Ski season is coming! And with the inches already being laid down this year, it’s shaping up to be a doozy.
If you’re looking to hit the slopes with some gay and lesbian friends – or make new ones – but aren’t quite ready for the powder-and-party of a proper Gay Ski Week (check out last year’s post for a sample), then a Ski Bums (www.ski-bums.org) package is the way to go. Founded in 2005 with day trips from NYC, it has grown to become the world’s largest LGBT skier and snowboarder club with new chapters in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, and over 800 members worldwide (roughly 80 percent men and 20 percent women), a third of which are snowboarders, and everyone a heckuva lot of fun. Membership is free when you book a trip ($49 otherwise) and includes discounts of 30 to 50 percent off top-quality gear from Backcountry.com, plus typical savings of 15 percent off over booking the same trip independently. Book now for its eight major trips in 2012 (outlined below). Read more
The leaves are blazing orange and yellow, there’s a chill in the air, no doubt about it, to quote the best TV show of the year: Winter is coming. But over in Vancouver it’s nowhere near hibernation time – not before the 1st annual Wild Weekend at least! From October 20-23, Canada’s most liveable city will play host to over a dozen events celebrating fur, embracing fun, all the while raising money and awareness for Camp Moomba, a charity/summer camp for children 6-17 that are impacted by HIV/AIDS.
Consider yourself a bear? More of an otter? Hungry like a wolf? Or any other masucline animal in the gay kingdom? (Squirrel!) There are over a dozen events all under $20 and most free – although donations encouraged, of course – put on by various promoters scattered around town, from literary readings to beer busts, karaoke, and mondo parties including:
That’s right. Out with abs and in with frosty brews! Up in Canada (naturally), the Queer Beer Festival taps the kegs of Toronto on Thursday, August 4. A first-of-its-kind event in North America ? gay days at Oktoberfest come the closest in Europe ? the fest aims to embrace the queer and trans communities while celebrating Canada’s rich brewing history. Expect live entertainment, food tents, visits from experts of the craft from around the world, and tastes of more than 200 brands. Mezcal might be the drink of the summer, but on our tab, it’s time for some suds.
Philadelphia: Birthplace of America, city of firsts – the government-funded tourism org broke ground in LGBT destination marketing back in 2003 with its “Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay” campaign – has a whole new bag of tricks up its sleeve when it launches the month-long, citywide Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA.org) this April 7 till May 1, 2011.
A $10 million precedent-setting effort by a U.S. city to pull together all its major arts organizations (100 partners and counting), PIFA welcomes more than 1,500 artists for the 25-day French-tinged event, its inaugural theme harkening back to the avant-garde, epoch-defining buzz of 1910-1920s Paris. Think Chagall and Champagne, absinthe-fueled cabaret, aerialsts, puppeteers, and silent film symphonics. That’s a hell of a lot of creative energy and a boon for any arts-loving traveler, almost like a more mainstream version of Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival. And you can bet more than a handful of the 135-plus events will have a queer bent. Read more
Now this is a public transit initiative we can get behind: on Saturday March 12, wine country‘s burgeoning gay events and tour organization Out in the Vineyard (OutInTheVineyard.com) is teaming with the Napa Valley Wine Train for a night of classed-up cuisine, fine pours, and fraternity.
A dinner party on rails, up to 182 guests choo-choo (and chew chew) throughout the 3-hour, 36-mile Big Gay Train Trip, in an old-world style atmosphere. Think Americana mixed with a dash of Orient Express (minus the murder) with twin antique locomotives pulling a collection of restored turn-of-the-20th-century rail cars through picturesque hills and valleys. Each of the four gourmet courses is paired with select vintages from local gay-owned vineyards – Sebastiania, Bjornstad, Poem, Hesperian – with some even incorporated into the dishes like lamb lollipops drizzled with a wine reduction sauce. Rest assured, this being the heart of bucolic Cali, it’s all seasonal, sustainable, and locavore-leaning. Read more
Massachusetts redefined what ye ol’ ball and chain could mean when it legalized same-sex marriage back in 2004. And in 2007, The Liberty Hotel redefined hard time when it converted the imposing 1850s granite-wrapped Charles Street Jail into an exceedingly hip, design-driven property in the heart of Beacon Hill. Coincidence? Unclear. But with two weeks to go till Valentine’s Day, I can’t think of a more perfect excuse to head to Boston and suss it out – especially with two lovers-oriented specials on tap.
Starting February 1st and valid the entire month, the Lip Locked Up package offers a romantic retreat for two with luxe accommodations, welcome Champagne at check-in, an intimacy kit, valet parking, and some Molton Brown gloss for kissable lips. Though you’ll be behind bars, handcuffs are your responsibility. Rates start at $280, which is a steal (how apropos) considering parking alone racks up at $42 a day.
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