KEY WEST, Florida Keys — The subtropical island of Key West is to welcome visitors to its annual Pride celebrations Wednesday through Sunday, June 6-10. Festivities showcase the diversity and equality that help make the southernmost city a top vacation destination for LGBT visitors from around the world.
Among the planned activities are pool parties and late-night soirees, the finale of a North American cocktail contest, a theatrical reading, film screenings, a Pride street fair and pageants to select Mr., Miss and Ms. Key West Pride. In addition, a preliminary pageant for the Miss F.I. Florida competition for female impersonators takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 9.
Scheduled highlights include the 2018 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic’s Wednesday night Pride kick-off gala, Thursday and Friday night’s elimination rounds and Saturday night’s final round. The mixology competition features regional winners from LGBT bars in 14 North American cities, all tasked with creating a Key West cocktail that embodies the island’s creativity and free spirit. Now in its fifth year, the challenge is believed to be North America’s largest annual LGBT bartending competition.
Saturday’s final round is scheduled for 7 p.m. on an open-air stage in the 700 block of Duval Street. Stoli USA’s national LGBT ambassador Patrik Gallineaux is to host along with “Real Housewives of Dallas” star LeeAnne Locken.
Celebrity guests and contest judges include recording artist Debby Holiday, former “American Idol” finalist LaToya London, comedy writer and actor Bruce Vilanch, television personality Jai Rodriguez and Key West female impersonator Sushi.
The Stoli champion is to be named honorary grand marshal of the 2018 Pride Parade. The all-welcome procession features a 100-foot section of Key West’s famed 1.25-mile-long sea-to-sea rainbow flag, created in 2003 by the late Gilbert Baker.
The parade is set for 5 p.m. Sunday, June 10, proceeding up Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Afterward, parade participants and spectators can gather for a traditional Key West Tea Dance at the renowned La Te Da at 1125 Duval St.