MY FIRST TIME AT WINTER PARTY
by Walter Castaneda
I’m from San Diego, so I was a little nervous for my first trip across the country for Winter Party Festival. I’d never been to Miami Beach. I didn’t know the city. I almost decided not to go, but I knew a handful of close friends going, who’d later become my chosen family. I’m so glad I went. I now go back every year! This year will be my fourth time attending the Festival, and I couldn’t be more excited to experience the magic and celebrate with some of my closest friends and forge new friendships. Here are a few tips on how I got through my first year. I hope this gets you excited for your first experience!
FLIGHT & LOCAL TRANSIT
The first purchase I made was my flight. I was flexible with my travel days, so I scored a great deal. I flew into Miami International Airport for a pretty decent price. Plan in advance to score the best deals. I planned my trip to Miami for Wednesday to Tuesday. I highly recommend staying through Tuesday to experience everything the Festival has to offer! I’ve also flown into Fort Lauderdale and then taken a shuttle directly to the host hotel. It was an easy 30-min drive into Miami Beach. You can find price estimates for ground transit on the airport websites:
- Miami International Airport transportation
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport transportation
There are many options getting to and from the airport to South Beach once you’ve landed in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Sometimes, flying into Fort Lauderdale can be cheaper, so don’t forget to look for the best deal by checking out both airports. There was no need to rent a car. Once I got to the host hotel, I was in the center of all the action. I walked just about anywhere and everywhere. It’s fairly easy to get around Downtown Miami or Miami Beach through any mobile driver applications, too.
PASSES AND TICKETS
Once I purchased my flight, I had to purchase my Individual Event Tickets. I knew that the Beach Party was a must. I’d heard it was one of the most magical experiences. I bought tickets to four events; however, I ended up going to SEVEN dance parties! During the planning stage, I purchased tickets to:
- Heat - Every year, Friday night at Club Space is an iconic part of Winter Party Festival. This year, DJ Nacho Chapado makes his debut alongside DJ Alex Acosta on the Space Terrace, with DJ Deanne all-night in the Space Basement.
- Under One Sun Pool Party - The Under One Sun Pool Party on Saturday is one of the Festival’s most popular events and the first to sell out each year. Winter Party moved this year’s party to one of the largest pools in Miami Beach, the Deauville Beach Resort! DJ Dan Slater and DJ Kitty Glitter will take you on a journey through the sun.
- The Beach Party - Sunday’s Beach Party is the largest and most popular event, the crown jewel of Winter Party. For the first time EVER in 2017, Winter Party (and fan) favorite ROSABEL (DJs Ralphi Rosario & Abel Aguilera) will be on deck, pounding out the beats. You will not be able to resist!
- WE Party - Following The Beach Party is WE Party, coming to you all the way from Madrid, Spain. The production and the venue never disappoint. Don’t get me started on the dancers, they’re incredible! I always look forward to this event. It’s one of my favorites!
After my first year, purchasing a Multi-Event Pass made a lot more sense in terms of savings. Take my advice:
- If you’re going Friday – Monday, then purchase the Weekend Pass.
- If you’re going Thursday – Tuesday, then buy the VIP Pass or the Festival Pass.
- If you’re going for Sunday only, then purchase the Climax Pass.
I love a good conversation. I also love a good party, but sometimes it’s hard to have a good conversation on the dance floor because the music is so good. That’s why I really enjoy the Thursday evening VIP Cocktail Reception! I engaged in conversations and learned about the impact Winter Party Festival has on our LGBTQ Community for the first time. Funds raised directly from the Festival fuel the work to ensure and secure freedom, justice, and equality for LGBTQ folks. Knowing that my vacation dollars were supporting a great cause made me feel great.
If you enjoy art, free food, complimentary cocktails and wine, then Friday Night’s Artscape will be an evening you don’t want to miss. Last year, renowned and emerging LGBTQ artists representing every art form came together under one roof for an exhibition and auction. Artists’ work is all for purchase, too! You’ll enjoy wonderful conversations with a diverse crowd - I hardly noticed I wasn’t on the dance floor.
The Festival has so much to offer both on and off the dance floor. That what makes it special to me. I love walking away with great memories of dancing with my chosen family and engaging conversations!
My hotel reservation was the last thing I needed to do to complete my Winter Party vacation. I suggest booking ASAP because it does sell out. Luckily, for the first time ever, there are two Host Hotels! This year, our Host Hotels are:
- National Hotel Miami Beach - The National Hotel Miami Beach is located in the heart of South Beach and it’s the home of the Welcome Center where you can reunite and hangout with friends. It’s the place to be with oceanfront property and private beach access, on-site restaurant, fitness center, and more.
- The Deauville Beach Resort - Save $150 with free Pool Party tickets for staying here and enjoy complimentary wifi, access to the fitness center/sauna, beach umbrellas, chairs and towels at no additional cost!
I love staying in the center of the action. If you stay at the Deauville, you can go in and out – up and down to your room as many times as you’d like. You’ll also get two free tickets to the pool party for staying at the Deauville Beach Resort, the new home of the Under One Sun Pool Party!
The National Hotel Miami Beach is close to all the shopping on Lincoln Road and close to some of my favorite places to eat. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to dining near the National.