Colorful, startling and just a little bit political, Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras is all about raising the visibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people, as well as queer and intersex communities.
Over a three week period, usually mid-late February, the atmosphere in Sydney heats up with a variety of events in different locations including the Bondi Beach Drag Races, Harbour Party, Mardi Gras Film Festival and Fair Day in Victoria Park.
Sydney Mardi Gras is the world's most joyous and spectacular celebration of LGBTQI pride. Sydney Mardi Gras attracts over 20,000 interstate and international visitors each year, who enjoy a diverse and exciting line-up of events as well as soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the iconic surroundings of Sydney and New South Wales.
The highlight of the festival is the infamous Mardi Gras parade which takes place on the first Saturday in March and is a sight not to be missed. That is if you’ve managed to find accommodation in Sydney. The Mardi Gras is one of Australia’s biggest tourist attractions and one of the largest such festivals in the world, so be prepared for thousands of people. The Parade itself alone has 8,500 people all dressed in attention-grabbing costumes to say the least. Don’t forget your camera, you’ll get some great shots for the family album.
The event grew from gay rights marches held annually since 1978, when numerous participants had been contentiously arrested by New South Wales Police. The Mardi Gras Parade maintains a political flavour, with many marching groups and floats promoting LGBTQI rights issues or themes. Reflecting changes since the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, participants in the Mardi Gras Parade now include groups of uniformed Australian Defence Force personnel, police officers from New South Wales State Police, as well as interstate and federal police officers, firefighters and other emergency services personnel from the Australian LGBTQI communities. Marriage equality was a dominant theme in the 2011 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade with at least 15 floats lobbying for same-sex marriage
The Mardi Gras Post-parade Party is just as infamous. In recent years the Party has attracted many top performers such as the likes of Kylie Minogue, George Michael and Kelly Rowland and usually sells between 15,000 – 20,000 tickets.