Winter party dances for 25 years

Miami Beach was a very different place 25 years ago.

The LGBT community and LGBT visitors put Miami Beach on the international “must-see” map. Winter Party began in 1994 as a one-day event, the first Miami mega-dance party ever held on the beach. Over the years, the festival has grown and evolved into a weeklong extravaganza. Today, organizers say the festival celebrates the unique spirit of “chosen family” among the LGBT community from around the globe in an international destination.

This year, Winter Party Festival is celebrating 25 years with events Feb. 28-March 6. Promoted as a “Party with a Purpose,” the National LGBTQ Task Force has produced the festival for the last 13 years, and it’s an important fundraiser for both the Task Force and the South Florida LGBT community.

The Task Force donates a significant portion of the proceeds from Winter Party Festival each year to LGBT-advocacy and community groups in South Florida through a grant-making process administered by the GLBT Community Projects Fund at The Miami Foundation. In July 2017, the Task Force donated a record-breaking $300,000, for a grand total of $2.7 million given back since the Task Force took on the production of the Winter Party Festival.

Make no mistake: This is a circuit party, so get ready to dance. Winter Party Festival is showcasing an international lineup of iconic DJs from the United States, Mexico, Canada and Spain for global appeal. In an effort to keep up with high production, Winter Party is moving its Saturday and Sunday-night dance parties to the James L. Knight Center. Both events will be produced in partnership with Masterbeat, a group that specializes in conceptualizing and producing theme events above the ordinary to provide festival attendees with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The iconic Sunday dance party on the beach that started it all will remain.

#WinterParty25 featured events:

• The Art of Shaving Presents VIP Cocktail Reception — 7:30 p.m. March 1 at Nautilus South Beach

• Ignite — 10 p.m. March 1 at Score Nightclub, featuring DJ J. Warren and circuit superstar Phil Romano

• ArtScape — 7 p.m. March 2 at FIU CARTA in Miami Beach

• HEAT – 10 p.m. March 2 at Club Space, featuring DJs Alain Jackinsky, Issac Escalante and Pablo Lopez

• Under One Sun Pool Party — noon March 3 at the Kimpton Surfcomber, featuring DJ Joe Gauthreaux

• Winter Party Festival Presents Masterbeat Toy Factory — 10 p.m. March 3 at the James L. Knight Center, featuring DJs Oscar Velazquez and Alex Acosta

• The 25th Edition Beach Party — noon March 4 at Lummus Park, featuring sets from DJs Grind and ROSABEL for an extended eight-hour beach party

• Winter Party Festival and Masterbeat Present Forever Adventure — 10 p.m. March 4 at the James L. Knight Center, featuring Forever Tel Aviv’s DJs Micky Friedman and the return of Sagi Kariv.

For tickets and travel packages, visit The Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel is Winter Party Festival’s only official host hotel. Located in the heart of South Beach. If you need a break from the party scene, check out the nearby Loews, Ritz-Carlton or SLS hotels.

Jeff Guaracino is the author of “The Handbook of LGBT Tourism and Hospitality: A Guide for Business Practice.”

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