Mar 3, 2023 - News

Winter Party back in Miami Beach after COVID pause

A DJ plays music for a large crowd at Winter Party Festival in 2020.

Winter Party Festival, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Winter Party Festival/National LGBTQ Task Force

Winter Party Festival, the annual week-long LGBTQ event, has returned to Miami Beach for the first time in three years.

Why it matters: The festival — which is organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force — is celebrating its 30th anniversary at a time when lawmakers in Florida and across the U.S. have targeted gender-affirming care, drag shows and college diversity, inclusion and equity programs.

Catch up quick: The last time Winter Party was held in person, at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, nearly 40 attendees later tested positive for COVID-19 and three died.

What they’re saying: Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, tells Axios that the festival is an event in which people can be their true selves, which she says is a political statement in itself.

  • “Our opposition would have us deny our full selves,” she says. “So to be out, loud and proud — and living in joy — is an act of resistance.”
  • Johnson says a portion of ticket and drink sales, and sponsorship revenue will go to the Task Force and local LGBTQ advocacy groups through a partnership with The Our Fund Foundation and the Miami Foundation.

Details: The festival kicked off last night with a party at Exchange Miami and will host another eight parties at venues across Miami through Monday evening.

Zoom in: Johnson says organizers will distribute masks and hand sanitizer. There is a public COVID testing site located at the 17th Street Garage.

  • The event website also encourages people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and monkeypox (mpox).
  • “We’re going to be extra cautious and, like always, reminding [each other] that no one is going to take care of our community better than ourselves,” Johnson said.
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