Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is turning 40 with a bang. The Goddess of Pop, Cher, has been confirmed as the headline act, with a bevy of international DJs, cult drag stars and gay and lesbian icons arriving in the harbour city to celebrate the sequin-studded milestone. Here are six extraordinary ways to be part of the scene this year.

The Parade

With more than 200 glittering floats, this year’s traffic-stopping parade (3 March; Oxford Street) is set to be the biggest procession ever – a remarkable departure from the humble 1978 march, in which a few hundred LGBT activists followed a tiny truck down Oxford Street. Only time will tell if Cher herself will appear on one of the floats but we have our fingers, toes, everything crossed.

Cher is Officially Coming to Sydney for Mardi Gras

Image: Jeffrey Feng Photography

The Party

It’s Australia’s biggest LGBTQI bash (3 March; Fox Studios), with 12,000 attendees, five dance spaces, international DJs and theatrical lighting. But all eyes will be on one person – American singer and actress Cher, belting out timeless tunes such as If I Could Turn Back Time and Believe.

The Park

Thanks to a convivial vibe, food stalls and live stage shows, the Fair Day carnival at Victoria Park (18 February) is one of the most loved laid-back events of the festival. This year, add a family-friendly excursion to Luna Park to the list of things to do. The Family Fun Day (24 February) includes unlimited rides, a kids-only dance party and appearances by Oxford Street drag queens.

Cher is Officially Coming to Sydney for Mardi Gras

The Museum

Set over two floors of National Art School, the Museum of Love & Protest (16 February to 4 March) is this year’s signature event – an exhibition of iconic posters, images and rarely seen videos and footage, celebrating four decades (the highs as well as the lows) of Mardi Gras. But the deal clincher, is the “immersive” garden-like room upstairs where visitors will be encouraged to make origami butterflies, scribble their own Mardi Gras memories and add to an ever-evolving installation.

The Play

From the playwright of Holding the Man comes Strangers in Between – a tale of a naïve man who ends up on the streets of Kings Cross after fleeing his family. Daniel Lammin directs the award-winning play (14 February to 2 March), starring AACTA winner Simon Burke and Helpmann winner Guy Simon.

The Art

For one night only (28 February), the Art Gallery of NSW will go queer, with colourful performances, live music and renowned DJs, plus one of the world’s most famous photographers Robert Mapplethorpe’s homoerotic prints on the wall.

Cher is Officially Coming to Sydney for Mardi Gras

SEE ALSO: The World’s Best Festivals, Parades and Parties

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