Organizers of two winter festivals targeting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities are for the first time combining their efforts in hopes of creating a premier destination for locals and tourists alike.

The Utah Pride Center's WinterPride and the Queer Utah Aquatic Club's Ski-n-Swim will be held in conjunction Feb. 8-17.

"In the future, what we're hoping is for this to be a destination weekend," said Brandie Balken of the Utah Pride Center.

She envisions the winter festival eventually rising to the level of the Utah Pride Festival, which attracts people from throughout the region.

Ski-n-Swim chairman Dave Robinson hopes the combined effort will also boost attendance for the athletic event, which includes skiing and a U.S. Masters-approved swim meet. Registration has already at least matched the 20 states represented last year, he said.

The combined festival will also include a film night featuring local directors, actors and writers, family ice skating, a photo exhibit titled "FAMILIES: It's all Relative" and a Mardi Gras party and awards ceremony.

"If anything, the response has been fantastic," Robinson said. "It's a combining of efforts. We plan to benefit as a community."

Many of the events are free or low-cost, and most require reservations, or tickets, which may be purchased for a discount online until Jan. 31 at

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