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WinterPRIDE changes dates, spreads out winter business

2014 festival to be held in January to make room for Family Day



Organizers of Whistler's gay ski week are changing the dates of the annual festival in an effort to grow the business.

Traditionally held in the first week of February, WinterPRIDE 2014 will now be held from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2 so that it does not fall in the same time period as the new B.C. Family Day statutory holiday, as it did this year. The move will spread out Whistler's overall winter business too, potentially enticing more visitors to Family Day and more visitors to WinterPRIDE.

"By moving it... a week we have the ability to still grow the festival," said Dean Nelson, CEO and executive producer of Alpenglow Productions, which puts on the festival. "The last week of January will give us more opportunity for growth."

This year the last weekend of WinterPRIDE fell at the same time as the first Family Day holiday and Chinese New Year. That made for an at-capacity resort.

"Usually the first week of February is a 'value' time," said Nelson.

This year's timing was also one of the reasons why WinterPRIDE was turned down for festival augmentation funding from the municipality.

At the time Councillor Roger McCarthy, the council rep on the municipal Festivals, Events & Animation (FE&A) committee explained why WinterPRIDE missed out on the augmentation funding. "We just thought 'well, we're going to be full anyway,'" McCarthy said in December.

Nelson said he intends to make his case again for municipal augmentation funding and hopes that the new time slot could make a difference.

The date change was announced this week to give WinterPRIDE attendees a chance to change their plans.

"February is a strong month for the resort in terms of visitation," explained Louise Walker, Tourism Whistler's vice president, marketing strategy. "While the new statutory holiday is good for the resort as a whole, we now have a jam packed holiday weekend so I can understand WinterPRIDE's desire to change the date."