Are you ready to go down? Down under, that is! Sydney Mardi Gras is the largest gay party in Australia, and one of the biggest dates in the LGBTQ Pride calendar worldwide. From mid-February to early March, the city streets and venues will come alive with an array of pride-related fun in the sun.
Being the city's main gay pride event, Mardi Gras Sydney attracts thousands of partygoers every year. The whole event is spread out over almost three weeks. Expect the main Parade, the Fair Day (a free family-friendly carnival), queer art, the Sissy Ball (voguing party), Circuit-style parties, talks, films and so much more. Sydney Mardi Gras really is an event where the whole LGBTQ community is celebrated and embraced. Indeed, there are hundreds of events happening, so be sure to have your event calendar free!
The Sydney Mardi Gras Parade is arguably the highlight of the three-week festival, drawing more than 8,500 participants and roughly 300,000 spectators each year. The 1.7 kilometer parade usually kicks off from Oxford Street, before snaking through Flinders Street and Anzac Parade. Featuring colorful floats and performers, the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade is a true celebration of local LGBTQ culture, and endeavors to send a strong political theme each year.
Sydney Mardi Gras first started through a gay rights parade in Sydney, on June 24, 1978. Following a day commemoration of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, LGBTQ locals gathered on Oxford Street at 10pm to march for equal recogition, fight descrimination against LGBTQ people in employment and housing, revoke anti-gay laws, and end police harassment. The event drew an impressive 2000 marchers, however, it was later interrupted by police intervention, with 53 participants being arrested. In 1981, the event was shifted to February, and given the official title of Sydney Mardi Gras. Both participation and spectator rates increased significantly, and set the precedent for many Sydney Mardi Gras parades to follow suit. Every year a theme is set, with parade attendees encouraged to dress accordingly.
So if you are looking to experience your pride down under, in the heart of the Australian summer, be sure to pencil Sydney Mardi Gras into your gay events calendar this year. With loads of cultural events, an impressive parade, and plenty of themed parties taking place over the course of the three weeks, you would be missing out if you didn't attend Sydney Mardi Gras. Sydney has also won the bid to host WorldPride 2023, so things are only just getting started when it comes to pride in this city!
The main attraction is the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade. In 2020 it will take place Saturday, February 29 and will kick off at 7:30pm from the corner of Oxford and Flinders Streets. It will then wind its way through along Oxford Street and finish up along Anzac Parade at approximately 11pm. There will be a total of 200 colorful floats, reflecting a whole lot of camp, glitz, queer, and glamor - so be sure to come with your finest party spirits. This will be followed by the Post-Parade Party, which will take place at Hordern Pavilion and surrounding venues from 10pm to 8am the following day.
In addition to the momentous Parade, Sydney Mardi Gras also promises a host of exciting events and parties that celebrate the LGBTQ community. Whether you are into culture or partying, the diverse program is tailored to a range of tastes, ages, and demographics, truly making Sydney Mardi Gras open to all. Those looking to get wet should head for the iconic Pool Party, which will transpire on Monday, February 24 at the popular IVY Pool Club from 2pm to 11pm. Sip cocktails by the poolside, and enjoy the sounds from local DJs: Alex Taylor, Kristy Jane, Joelby, Haylee Maree, and Colin Gaff.
If you also want to get your vogue on, you need to attend the Sissy Ball, Australia's biggest vogue ball. The glamorous party will take place at Enmore Theatre on Saturday, February 22, and will welcome live music, DJs, and performing artists. Those craving a little culture can also attend various talks such as 'Queer Thinking' and 'My Trans Story - Place and Belonging'. Fair Day which will take place on February 16 in Victoria Park, is the go-to event for the whole family, welcoming plenty of entertainment ranging from queer hip hop artists to live DJs.
Every year, the Sydney Mardi Gras adopts a theme, and for 2020 it will be "What Matters". Through this theme, Sydney Mardi Gras wants to honor its political beginnings, and ask the LGBTQ public and beyond what matters to them. The event aims to be an opportunity for conversation, people can speak up about aspects they would like to change, be it socially, politically, personally. As the Sydney Mardi Gras so aptly states:
"Together, we create the community we live in, and united we can fight for the issues that matter to us. Make your voice heard about WHAT MATTERS."
The Sydney Mardi Gras Parade is a wild and colorful extravaganza that brings Sydney to a standstill. Of course, being summer here, the Parade helps to push the temperatures even higher! Sounds good? Then get planning your trip to Australia’s hottest gay pride event.