Gathered into a small crowd and rugged up against the cold on Saturday 24th June 1978, the first Mardi Gras was born.
A parade comparable in size to that which honours fallen soldiers during war, supporters of the LGBTQI communities have since gathered, primed for the street festival we know it as today.
This year, the event is back to become one of the first internationally significant Pride events to be staged since the spread of COVID-19 began.
Australian drag icon Courtney Act, comedians Joel Creasey and Zoë Coombs Marr, and presenter Narelda Jacobs will be at the helm of the festivities.
Courtney Act told SBS:
“I can’t wait to get my heels on the pitch, wearing a lace-front in place of a baggy green, to celebrate this unique and vibrant Mardi Gras parade with my Indigenous, black, brown, trans, bisexual, asexual, intersex, lesbian, gay and queer siblings.”
“We’re going to bring all of the fun, glamour, heart, diversity and storytelling from the SCG and shout it loud and proud across Australia and around the world.”
Here’s how you can join in celebrating freedom of expression and pride in 2021:
1. The Event
It’s game-on for the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. On Saturday 6 March 2021, the Sydney Cricket Ground will be transformed into an awe-inspiring and glittering showcase of LGBTQI+ culture and community. This is Mardi Gras like you’ve never seen it before, in one of Sydney’s most iconic venues.
International chart-topping pop star Rita Ora headlines a star-studded line-up of entertainment, planned for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday 6 March 2021.
Performances include electronic duo Electric Fields, Aria award winning art-pop songwriter Montaigne, and indie pop’s G Flip, presented by TikTok.
The theme this year is ‘RISE’, a call to action relating to love, compassion, respect and understanding. Attendees will witness a colourful cortège starring 5,000 paraders from over 100 LGBTQI+ community groups.
Purchase your tickets online via Ticketek
2. Celebrate In The Lounge room
The Mardi Gras celebrations can be streamed live via SBS On Demand with the geo-block removed, making it available to watch around the globe.
You can find the SBS On Demand times across Australia below or catch the full parade 7:30pm across Australia on SBS and NITV.
NSW/VIC/TAS/ACT :6pm AEDT
QLD: 5pm AEST
SA: 5:30pm ACDT
WA: 3pm AWST
NT: 4:30pm ACST
3. Parade-Night Parties
Celebrate the night away at a pride afterparty. Here’s a selection of the best events from around town:
The Beresford, Surry Hills
Doors open at 2pm and the best looking blokes in Sydney will pack-out the dance floor into the night. Complete with a photo booth and parade screening, this unticketed, walk-in event will be one not to miss.
Stonewall Hotel, Darlinghurst
The drag-favourite and ultimate Sydney gay bar is hosting a parade viewing party. A seated event with drinks and canapes. Marilyn Mootrub hosts the mayhem, with DJ’s
Marilyn Mootrub is on hosting duties with entertainment and DJs throughout the night and the parade streaming live on the big screens. Put on your dancing shoes, there are prizes for best dressed.
Tickets are around $100 and can be purchased here.
The Imperial Hotel, Erskineville
Home of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is the go-to choice for drag aficionados and fans alike. Dance the night away in the VIP Mardi Lounge, which transforms the upstairs area into a groovy tequila lounge. Enjoy an intimate dining experience hosted by resident queen Etcetera Etcetera with the parade streaming live for your viewing pleasure.
Tickets range from $169-$200 and are available here.
4. The Mardi Gras Film Festival 2021
Purchase festival passes here.
This year, the shops and venues of Oxford Street brighten up your shopping trip with a fusion of art and music. Local shopkeepers will be offering discounts and deals and a uniquely camp shopping experience.
Find more Mardi Gras events here. Happy Party Gras, everybody!
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) is one of the oldest continuously operating LGBTQI+ organisations in Australia. SGLMG was built on the foundations laid by early community activists who fought for LGBTQI+ rights in a time of wide-spread, institutionalised oppression and discrimination. From these origins, SGLMG has evolved to include a strong focus on celebration while maintaining a commitment to social justice for LGBTQI+ communities.
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