Thompson Okanagan, Canada
Situated in the southern central area of British Columbia lies the unique and beautiful region known as the Thompson Okanagan. This fascinating region is renowned for its temperate climate, delightful towns and cities, world-class vineyards, abundant fresh fruit, several major ski resorts, and outdoor adventure.
A centrepiece for the region is the world-famous Lake Okanagan. This spectacular, meandering lake stretches from north to south for approximately 110 km (68 miles), surrounded by stunning vistas, a string of charming communities, a wide range of accommodation options, year-round indoor/outdoor attractions, an amazing selection of over 70 independent wineries, adventure/eco tours, world-class alpine skiing and more. The lake even has it’s own mysterious, mythical creature; Ogopogo.
Other unique destinations within this amazing region include:
Kelowna - The largest community in the Lake Okanagan region, Kelowna is a resort city of 107,000 people, with a full range of amenties including an international airport, full range of accomodation, fine dining, art galleries and more.
Kamloops - This thriving city of 86,000 people is the commercial and transportation hub of the Thompson Valley. Hot, dazzling summers and mild winters with abundant snowfall, make this the ideal starting point for visits to Sun Peaks, Shuswap and the surrounding region.
Sun Peaks Resort - Canada's third-largest ski resort area, is located just 50 km northeast of Kamloops. This year-round destination enjoys 2,000 hours of sunshine per year, making it an ideal choice for skiing, snowmobiling and sleigh rides, as well as golf and hiking to name a few.
Penticton - One of the fastest growing communities in the region, Penticton is also blessed with lakes on both its northern and southern ends, offering beautiful beaches, and many full service amenities such as a lakefront casino, as well as easy access to many recreational opportunities.
Vernon - Historic Vernon is the oldest community in this region, with a delightful downtown area of charming shops and services, as well as full service hotels and convention facilities. Access to sunny beaches and year-round recreational opportunities make this a popular tourism centre.
Osoyoos - Canada's driest climate is enjoyed in Osoyoos, with hot sunny summers and year-round visitors to its luxury resorts in this Desert Wine Country. Lake Osoyoos is Canada's warmest, and golf and skiing are just minutes away.
Oliver - A must-stop on any wine tour of the Thompson - Okanagan region, Oliver is located at the norternmost tip of the Sonora desert, and is home to the largest concentration of wineries in British Columbia. Many recreatinal opportunities make this also a popular BC vacation destination.
Apex Mountain - Just 30 km from Penticton, Apex Mountain offers World Cup aerial and mogul courses, night skiing, tube park, ice hockey and ice skating. An intimate ski village with a Western feel, in the starting point for some of the best powder snow around.
Big White - BC's second largest ski resort, and Canada's largest ski-in, ski-out resort, Big White offers all you would expect and more. A full range of accommodation options, as well as a great selecetion of restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs complete the experience.
Silver Star - A colourful, vibrant ski village is centrestage at this winter-wonderland styled resort. With over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain for everyone, and world-class nordic trails, also make this the training grounds of choice for several international ski teams.
Naramata - Home to a number of award-winning wineries, Naramata is also home to several unique boutique wineries you can discover on you own. An array of lodging options and restaurants make this a delightful stop on any wine itinerary.
Summerland - Old English Tudor style is a noticeable feature in this sun-drenched community on Lake Okanagan. Renowned as an important fruit growing and processing centre, the area also boasts six wineries, a museum, botanical garden and warm beaches.
Shuswap - The Shuswap Lakes Region is located in south central BC and includes the Shuswap Lake system, the communities of Salmon Arm, Sicamous and Chase. Home to the Houseboat capital of Canada, this area also offers everything from snowmobiling, to agri-tourism.
Valemont - Tourists looking for a laid-back adventure with a variety of lodging and attractions off the beaten path, will find Valemont a delight. Located at the junction of three mountain ranges, including Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains.
You can access a variety of LGBT-welcoming businesses located in the Thompson Okanagan region by clicking on the highlighted banners, or our Travel Directory link on the right.
The Thompson Okanagan is also home to a diverse GLBT community that operate a wide range of businesses and services throughout the region. Unlike larger urban centres, there are no obvious focal points such as a gay village or bar scene, however The Okanagan Rainbow Coalition organizes a series of ongoing social events and the region proudly hosts the Annual Okanagan Pride Festival:
The Okanagan Pride Committee is excited to announce that Okanagan Pride is taking place August 12 through 19, 2012. This year’s festival with its theme of “Celebrating Diversity!” will be held over eight days with events including a spiritual gathering, movie screening of cult classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, concert featuring renowned singer and songwriter Amy Bishop (www.amybishopmusic.com), golf tournament, beach volleyball, community barbeque, Pride dance, and champagne brunch. Several of these events are free to attend, everyone is welcome, and many are family friendly.
Local businesses in the community have rallied around this year’s Okanagan Pride. In its sixth year, this summer’s extravaganza promises to be a best-yet Okanagan Pride with growing support at the business sponsorship level and an increasing repute as a true destination Pride event. Lead partners of the festival include TD Bank Group, Xtra!, LeVeL Night Club, Astral Media, The Coast Capri Hotel, Manteo Resort, Clarance House Bed & Breakfast, Plus 141 Communications, RE/MAX Kelowna and Justworks Technology.
“We are extremely pleased with the level of engagement and support that Kelowna businesses and our media sponsors have shown to Okanagan Pride this year,” says Raymond Koehler, Chair of the Okanagan Pride Festival Committee. “The business and media community in Kelowna has rallied around Pride and brought a momentum and energy to the festival that is tangible. As we promote Okanagan Pride to residents and visitors, this energy is sure to translate into growing attendance levels, a positive impact on the local economy by a sought-after demographic, and most-importantly, a highlight of the summer for many, many people.”
The Okanagan Pride Committee is thrilled that Mayor Walter Gray has proclaimed August 12 – 19, 2012 as Pride Week in Kelowna. “This proclamation will be met with great enthusiasm and support in the local Queer Community, signaling that Kelowna is an inclusive, diverse and welcoming city for everyone,” says Koehler. “We welcome the continued commitment of The City of Kelowna to embrace Okanagan Pride, testament to the municipality’s belief that that everyone should enjoy the same rights, responsibilities and protections as all British Columbians and Canadians, as they contribute together to the social, cultural and economic betterment and well-being of the city, and that equality matters."
The Pride flag with its rainbow colors designed to symbolize life, healing, sunlight, nature, harmony and spirit will be flown over Kelowna’s City Hall August 13 – 20 in honour of Okanagan Pride.
About Okanagan Pride
Okanagan Pride, hosted and organized by dozens of community volunteers, working together under the umbrella of Okanagan Rainbow Coalition, is in its sixth year and continues to see growing support from the community in terms of partnership and event attendance. Visit us at www.gayokanagan.com/pride for sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, updates and news.
About Okanagan Rainbow Coalition
Okanagan Rainbow Coalition is a Kelowna based non-profit society with a mission to provide a non-judgmental community focused on integrity, empathy and compassion for those who are in need, and tolerance for those who do not understand the diversity of the community. Their mission also includes creating a supportive environment and providing resources for the central Okanagan’s Queer Communities.