Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival is one of the most exciting events on the city’s calendar. Kicking off this year on 18 February and running until 6 March, the festival sees the return of classic moments like the Progress Pride Flag Raising and the Parade, as well as the beloved Laugh Out Proud comedy event and more.
This year’s festivities are centred around the theme United We Shine, which Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger says is “a reminder of all that we can achieve when our communities rise as one”. Here are the key events…
Progress Pride Flag Raising
To celebrate the beginning of Mardi Gras, the Progress Pride Flag Raising ceremony will be held on 18 February at Sydney Town Hall, hosted by leaders of the Australian LGBTQI+ community. The iconic rainbow flag will fly until 6 March.
The event’s most renowned moment is the Mardi Gras Parade. Held this year on 5 March at the Sydney Cricket Ground, it celebrates the festival’s proud tradition of powerful protest as well as its vibrant diversity.
Expect a glittering showcase of more than 6500 marchers across more than 160 floats, all showing off their passion, creativity, pride and commitment to equal rights.
Highlights of the Parade will include the return of Mardi Gras favourites the 78ers – LGBTQI+ activists who marched and protested in the original Mardi Gras in 1978 and have led the parade ever since – and Dykes on Bikes, one of Australia’s longest-running LGBTQI+ community groups. Keep an eye out for the vividly dressed Qantas employee dance troupe as they show off their moves – they’ll be joined by a Qantas cabin crew member performing in drag.
If you aren’t able to catch the Parade at the SCG, the ABC will be broadcasting the revelry live across the country on the night.
Stop by Camperdown’s Victoria Park on 20 February and explore the official Mardi Gras Fair Day, where new and emerging LGBTQI+ creatives will be exhibiting and selling their work alongside food trucks and community stalls. Bring a picnic rug, settle in and listen to live music. While you’re there, visit the Qantas stall to meet staff and pick up a Mardi Gras-themed fan and biscuit – don't forget to snap a picture with the Qantas drag queen who will be there, too.
Laugh Out Proud is a one-night-only comedy experience featuring rising stars and favourites of the Australian queer comedy scene – the inaugural event in 2020 was hosted by the award-winning Nath Valvo and included sets from Geraldine Hickey, Thomas Jaspers and more. This year’s Laugh Out Proud will be on 25 February at the Enmore Theatre and is sure to sell out quickly.
Art and culture vultures will love Queer Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW on 2 March. Hear the queer stories behind a number of the gallery’s artworks, glass of champagne in hand, as you explore the space after hours. The evening is rounded out with performance art, new installations and music.
To see the full line-up of events and book your tickets visit the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras website.