When early March brings the Mardi Gras Sydney parade it’s the culmination of a month of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender celebrations under hundreds of rainbow Mardi Gras flags. We love it. You’re invited.
Yes, Mardi Gras Sydney is an LGBTQI celebration – of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersexed life.
And if you’re not LGBTQ or I? No worries! A Mardi Gras Sydney invitation is extended to you too.
Here are the parts of Mardi Gras Sydney that are most likely to appeal if you’re not immersed in the culture.
When is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras Sydney starts in early February. The date differs slightly each year, depending on how the weekends fall.
The Mardi Gras Sydney Parade is always on on the first Saturday of March. It brings the celebration to its triumphant end.
Be aware that accommodation is tight during the Mardi Gras Sydney festival. It’s one of the bigger international drawcards and hotels and apartments are often booked out a year ahead. Especially if they’re around the inner city or eastern suburbs.
Sydney’s Mardi Gras activities traditionally start with the family-friendly Fair Day. Come along to sit on the grass, browse the stalls, have a few drinks, enjoy the food and be entertained.
Not only are there competitions (Mr and Mrs Fair Day is one of them) with prizes to be won, there’s music, spoken performances, a great dog show (a highlight) and much more. There will be a line-up of performers which often include the Police Band and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir.
Fair Day is usually at Victoria Park Camperdown from 1000 to 2000 (10am to 8pm) and is definitely a day for friends and families to enjoy together.
If early March bring you to Sydney, don’t miss the sheer enjoyment and the high spirited buzz the day brings.
Mardi Gras Parade Schedule
The Mardi Gras parade leaves Hyde Park at 1945 (7.45pm) and makes its way up Oxford Street to Taylor Square.
At Taylor Square it turns right and goes all the way down Flinders Street until it gets to its destination, Moore Park. So it’s essentially a large L shaped route, with plenty of places from which to watch it.
It’s extremely popular, so you’ll be part of a large crowd.
There’s a ticketed parade viewing area with a raised platform on Taylor Square, but tickets essentially sell out immediately on release.
It doubles as a party area, so bear that in mind if you’re thinking about them.
Hotels and first floor or higher restaurants along Oxford and Flinders streets, with views over the parade route, can be quieter and more comfortable options.
There are not many though, and you’ll need to book early.
Most Sydneysiders just turn up and take their chances.
You’ll get to see quite a lot, no matter where you are and the experience is fun. People are generally very helpful.
Carry something light to stand on (to see better) if you’re small. Bringing along plastic milk crates or rubbish bins is a time-honoured tradition of Mardi Gras Sydney parade attendees.
Mardi Gras Sydney Costumes
Mardi Gras clothing is important! Sequins can’t do it alone. Heels get higher, headdresses get ever more exotic and the competition is fierce.
In the final instance, Mardi Gras Sydney is about bodies – ripped, toned and tanned. And it’s about getting the LGBTQI message across. But it also has its signature, over the top style, introduced in the early eighties and more eye-catching every year.
Fishnet stockings, platform shoes, sparkly fabrics and, inevitably, sequins are essential for most float participants. And lots of makeup!
If you want a decent, closeup look at the detail involved, head for Hyde Park on the afternoon of the parade.
The Mardi Gras floats and many of the participants will be there, the subject of last minute loving attention. You can have a good look at them in relative peace.
Once the parade starts it’s much more difficult to get anything other than an overall impression.
For a complete rundown of everything Mardi Gras Sydney – key events, parties, tickets, costumes, backgrounds – go to the official website.