Florida has become one of the world's premier gay destinations when it comes to parties and festivities, from pulsing circuit parties to flag-waving Pride events to Gay Days at Walt Disney World Resort. Among the state's leading gay vacation hubs, you're sure to find an event that fits your style.
Here's a quick rundown of some especially memorable GLBT gatherings in the Sunshine State.
Sculpture Key West
A contemporary sculpture exhibition that has taken place every winter since 1995 on the tropical island of Key West, Florida. In 1995, Park employee and sculptor Jim Racchi initiated the exhibition of contemporary outdoor sculpture that has been held at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Over the years it has grown from a handful of renowned Key West artists to a nationally recognized exhibition showcasing international and word-class artists. www.sculpturekeywest.com
Aqua Girl, South Beach, Mid-May
One of the largest women’s charity weekends in the country. Enjoy women's events in the sun and surf of South Beach with some of the hottest DJs and recording artists from around the world. Events include comedy nights, dance parties, women’s art exhibits, pool parties and concerts.
Gay Days, Orlando, late May - early June
In 1991, a relatively small group of gays and lesbians dressed in red and spent a day enjoying themselves at Walt Disney World. This informal get-together has grown into the mother of all gay theme-park parties, an action-packed week-long fete that includes parties not only inside the Magic Kingdom but at Epcot as well as a number of area hotels and nightclubs. While the theme park days are not officially sponsored, you'll still see a huge sea of red-shirt attendees gathering in front of the Castle in the Magic Kingdom during the 3 p.m. parade on the first Saturday in June. www.gaydays.com.
Gay Spring Break, Key West, March - April
Just as your cold weather is giving much of the world the blues by late winter, charming Key West kicks off its Gay Spring Break period - it's aimed at students and consists of laid-back beach parties, high-energy dance events and all sorts of recreational activities, from snorkeling excursions to jet-skiing. And don't worry if you're well past your student years. This is a great time to visit Key West for all ages.
Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Miami , late April - early May
This weeklong series of intriguing screenings of GLBT feature-length and short movies garners plenty of attention each year. It offers visitors a great opportunity to hobnob with filmmakers, actors and movie buffs (and to attend some terrific panel discussions and lectures). www.mglff.com
Pridefest at the War Memorial, Fort Lauderdale, mid-March
South Florida's premier gay vacation getaway, Fort Lauderdale hosts a vibrant Pride weekend each spring. The event has been going strong since 1977 and includes live performances, parties, more than 170 vendors in the PrideFest Outdoor Market Place and an exhibit of The HIV/AIDS Memorial Quilt inside the air-conditioned War Memorial Auditorium. In 2013, Pridefest also adds a Food & Wine Show and a Comedy Showcase. www.pridesouthflorida.org.
Tropical Heat, Key West, August
An adventurous four days of gay adult fun in unique Key West. Adult themed entertainment and events take place throughout the weekend. Bars and guesthouses are within walking distance on this charming island. www.tropicalheatkw.com
Pridefest, Key West, early June
On this two- by four-mile island, the community comes together each June and throws a week's worth of events. Enjoy touring some of the finest homes, watch the crowning of Ms., Miss, and Mr. Pridefest. Other events include sunset sailing, receptions and a two-day street festival and twilight parade down Duval Street to the Atlantic Ocean. www.pridefestkeywest.com
St. Pete Pride, St. Petersburg, late June
What began as a modest gay pride celebration in 2002 has rapidly grown to become one of the largest such events in Florida, drawing more than 80,000 marchers to the parade in downtown St. Petersburg's Historic Grand Central District. Related activities in and around the area include a street festival, promenade, concerts and shows and a number of charity benefits. www.stpetepride.com
WomenFest, Key West, early September
Each autumn, Key West throws a week's worth of fabulous women's parties and festivities, drawing lesbians of all ages and styles, both singles and couples. The week, which started in 1986, features a series of beach parties, sunset snails and snorkeling cruises, galas at area gay nightclubs and Key West trolley tours. There's also competitive bull riding. www.womenfest.com
FantasyFest, Key West, late October
The annual Fantasy Fest in Key West features a new theme every year. This outrageous five-day celebration includes costume competitions, street fairs and a grand parade featuring marching groups and lavish floats. www.fantasyfest.net
White Party Week, South Beach, late November
A hugely popular fundraising event benefiting South Florida's most prominent HIV/AIDS service organization, Care Resource, the White Party is quite simply the circuit party gathering in the state. Throughout the week, you can expect high-energy dance parties hosted by top DJs and performers, plus plenty of gatherings throughout the days. If you want to help a great cause and have a blast on the dance floor while you're at it, you won't want to miss this one. www.whiteparty.org
Winter Party Festival, South Beach, March
South Beach's glamorous Deco District pulls out all the stops to welcome more than 10,000 gay and lesbian visitors for six days of parties and gatherings, with proceeds benefiting both local and national GLBT organizations. This is an eclectic party with something to suit every taste, from circuit and beach parties to comedy and music concerts to sporting and recreational events. www.winterparty.com