When you're packing your bag for Labor Day this year, make your passport as essential as the SPF. With Austria's Pink Lake turning three and New Zealand Gay Ski Week maturing at eight, you can beat the holiday crowds by avoiding them altogether – in another country.
Pink Lake (September 2-5)
On the picturesque Lake Woerthersee in the southern Austrian state of Carinthia, the Pink Lake Festival has drawn a diverse group of roughly 3,500 (aged 21-50 with 80/20 gay-lesbian mix) to the area's resort towns in each of its past two editions, with participants hailing from Germany, Italy, Slovenia, the UK, and Austria (naturally), and as far flung as Thailand, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Think less segregated circuit weekend or Pride and a more all-inclusive international gay get-together on the Austrian Riviera.
This year, organizers for the long weekend of sights, sports, relaxation, and party have upped the luxe factor with a new Sunshine Lake Beach Club host hotel; the Lake's my lake hotel property is particularly stunning, both in contemporary newness and design, as well as vistas. The event date has also been moved up to ensure the excellent end-of-summer sunny gorgeousness past editions have enjoyed. Temps for the pristine water even reach 77° F. Entertainment-wise, the Almdudler Trachtenparty (Austrian Folk Party) with headliner David Lee Brewer, DJ'd Boat Cruise and Saturday night Black & White party with Alexandra Prince peak at 1,000 attendees and organizers strive to keep the vibe relaxed, sans the 'tude (and high prices!) frequently found in larger urban events. A combo ticket for all three main events is only €20 til August 25.
Visit PinkLake.at for entire event schedule, area attractions, and travel info, as well as package deals at hotels in the region (from €32 a night, per person including breakfast). Flights can be booked direct into Klagenfurt, or roughly a three-hour drive from hubs Vienna, Munich, Venice, or Zagreb. For general travel info, check out our Austria Travel Guide.
New Zealand Gay Ski Week (September 4-12)
There's still time to spend summer's last hurrah with winter's kiss in Queenstown, New Zealand, the country's (and perhaps the world's) adventure capital on alpine Lake Wakatipu. Although airfare has risen since we last reported on it and the host hotel is filled except for random nights, everything else in the nine-day snowy brouhaha is still available on an a la carte basis. Organizers are even tweeking events and moving venues to accommodate the influx of LGBT powder hounds; close to 1,000 are expected this year. Its crown as the largest gay ski week in the southern hemisphere is very secure. The full schedule of après-ski hours, signature parties, dinners, and jacuzzi fests, plus the itinerary of different slopes, can be found on GaySkiWeekNZ.com. For general trip planning info check out our New Zealand Travel Guide.
Your best bet for flights is still Qantas. With a sale ending August 17, economy returns from LAX will run around $1400, while Premium Economy seats for the 17-hour jaunt start at $1629 each way and must be booked by August 31. Business Class, with near-horizontal seats, primo service, and entertainment and menus by Sydney's lauded Rockpool restaurant are always smart for luxury seekers.
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