European Gay Ski Week (EGSW) is returning this year from March 23rd to the 30th at the Les Arcs village at the Paradiski Ski Area in the Tarentaise Valley of France. The annual event is Europe’s largest gay ski week and is organized by the Pure Organization and regularly draws out between 800-1000 people every year. The event is truly European as Gay Ski Week rotates to a new location every year and celebrates at gay friendly ski resorts all throughout the European continent. Some previous resorts hosting EGSW include Tignes, Alpe D’Huez, Avoriaz, Les Menuires and Les Arcs and the attendees represent over 35 different nationalities from all over the world.

For the 2019 EGSW, participants can expect a wide variety of fun events, excursions, meals and parties. Whether you are going alone or with a group, there is much to do! Some of the highlights throughout the week include

  • Off-Pisted Guided Groups which are guided backcountry skiing excursions available as a good introduction to backcountry skiing.
  • International Welcome Party
  • Pool Party
  • Daily Cabaret which will feature some of Europe’s most fabulous drag queens hosting a variety of shows and events every night of the week.
  • Group Ski Down on the last day. Everybody will join at the top of the Paradiski slopes and ski down one last time to celebrate the end of the 2019 European Gay Ski Week.

The organizer for EGSW, Kevin Millins, recently shared his passion for organizing the event with Travel Mole and why LGBT-specific events like EGSW are necessary.

“With the LGBT protections and rights that have developed over the past 13 years that we have been running this event, it has prompted many people to question the need for LGBT-specific leisure spaces, be that gay-only bars and clubs or LGBT-specific tourism.” Millins said. “But for LGBT holiday-makers, knowing the laws of the land can be critical to actual or perceived safety, making holidays another source of worry rather than a relaxing, rejuvenating leisure experience.”

“For many, skiing and snowboarding epitomises feelings of freedom and self-expression. For the LGBT community, these are sentiments not taken for granted and there is huge demand for spaces that are guaranteed to be welcoming, inclusive and where LGBT people can relax, be themselves and just have fun.”

Millins recognizes that homophobia and transphobia are still very prevalent on the mountain.

“Snowboarders have long been referred to as ‘gays on trays’, while world-class snowboarder Terje Hakkonsen caused outrage on Twitter by quipping ‘Aren’t all skiers gay?’ when freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy came out back in 2015,” he added.

The event welcomes skiers of all levels and even includes lessons for beginners. With a variety of accommodation packages available starting at €399 for the week. It is definitely going to a fun time! Find more information at www.europeangayskiweek.com

By Dirk Smith