Buff, bronzed bodies and politico-prodding floats don’t just happen overnight. Plans and gym programs for the next year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade start as soon as the last remnants of glitter and false eyelashes are hosed from Oxford Street. Simply known as Mardi Gras, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival is the most anticipated and popular events on the LGBTI calendar, drawing people from all over Australia and the world.

Come out and play

Celebrating its 37th year in 2015, Mardi Gras has evolved from several hundred gays, lesbians and supporters marching on Saturday, June 24 in 1978 to a three-week festival, culminating in the official parade on the last Saturday that draws over 500,000 spectators (not including those watching the international televised program) to see around 10,000 parade participants. The first march was unexpectedly stopped by police, but 1979, a new Public Assemblies Act meant people no longer needed a permit to demonstrate and 3,000 marched in a trouble-free parade that year. The post-parade party was added in 1980 and the festival now encompasses the popular Fair Day, fun runs, theatre and comedy shows, pool parties, film events and art exhibitions.

The most popular event is the televised Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade where over 10,000 participants march down Oxford and Flinders streets in Darlinghurst in central Sydney. Major drawcards include the Marching Boys, Dykes on Bikes, floats that provoke or reflect the political or social zeitgeist and, of course, the fabulous costumes. The shimmying parade is an amazing celebration of pride and passion with support for the LGBTI community out in full force.

Sydney

When is it?

09th February 2016

Tips and tricks

  • If you want to be in Sydney for Mardi Gras, make sure you sort your accommodation early for this hugely popular event. The best places to stay to soak up the atmosphere are Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Paddington.

  • The parade usually kicks off at 7:30pm but you’ll need to turn up early to nab a prime viewing spot along the parade route (BYO milk crate!).

  • The best vantage spots are Taylor Square, outside the Oxford Hotel on Oxford Street or at the junction of Flinders Street and Moore Park Road.

  • There’s also paid viewing areas – the Parade Sideshow on Flinders Street and the members-only The Diamond Club at Taylor Square.

  • You'll find pedestrian crossing points along the route until 7pm, and then you’ll have to wait until after 10:30pm to cross the road again.

  • If you’re all dressed up and ready to rave, there’s the after party (Mardi Gras party), which is the largest LGBTI event in the Southern Hemisphere, and the after-after party (The Laneway).

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