The premier LGBT annual events in Australia's largest cities typically last two to three weeks. Gay Mardi Gras in Sydney and Adelaide Feast Festival are the most famous of these. Melbourne's beloved Midsumma Festival, which takes place from January 19 through February 9, 2020—during Australia's summer—draws tens of thousands of participants from the Melbourne metro area, all over Australia, and, increasingly, throughout the world. The city's Gay Business Association started the festival in 1988 to celebrate the Melbourne queer community's arts and culture.
The entire festival is kicked off with the Midsumma Carnival on January 19, 2020, a huge outdoor celebration at Alexandra Gardens in the center of downtown Melbourne. The carnival is a family-friendly event and an entire section is specially designated for attendees under 18 years old. It's even pet-friendly, and one of the highlights each year is the dog show which gives out awards to four-legged friends and their owners. Gay athletic teams from around Melbourne congregate in an area called the Sports Precinct, where you can watch a game, casually join in, or even sign up to be a part of a team.
Two main stages with live performers and DJs perform music throughout the day, and once the sun sets, the T Party begins. This nighttime dance party brings out the main headliners, and attendees can dance away into the midsummer night.
Midsumma Pride March
The 25th annual Midsumma Pride March is on February 2, 2020. The current-day parade follows nearly the same route as the first Pride March, down Fitzroy Street in St Kilda, the gay epicenter of Melbourne. Over 45,000 spectators come out for the pride march, making it the highest-attended parade in the entire state of Victoria. Annual traditions include the Rainbow Aboriginal Float and a contingent of LGBT youth at the beginning of the parade to affirm other young people in attendance.
The parade ends at Catani Gardens along the water, where the festivities continue with live music, outdoor bars, and food stalls.
Other Midsumma Events
Apart from the opening Carnival and the Pride March, the rest of the three weeks are filled in with art exhibitions, film festivals, drag shows, live music, poetry readings, round table talks, and much more. The 2020 festival includes a staggering total of 194 different events over the 22 days of Midsumma. Many of these are free to attend but require registration, while certain performances require purchasing a ticket. Tickets to most Midsumma events can be purchased online, over the phone, at the door, and at a special booth during the opening Carnival at Alexandra Gardens.
All of the events take place at one of the five venues known as the Midsumma Hubs, which are Arts Centre Melbourne, Theatre Works Hub, Gasworks Arts Park, the Hare Hole, and Chapel Off Chapel.
The Midsumma Festival actively works to raise up marginalized voices within the LGBT community through a variety of special activities that are together called Queer Unsettled, a sort of mini-festival within the festival. Listen and dance to electronic music from Indigenous trans artists, celebrate Lunar New Year at a dance battle featuring Thai drag queens, or visit a multidisciplinary art installation created by gay Iranian refugees, among many other events.
The Midsumma Festival truly puts a focus on diversity and inclusion of the entire community, not just parts of it.
Melbourne Midwinta Festival
The Midsumma organizers also created an increasingly popular event during the southern hemisphere's winter months, aptly named the Midwinta Festival, which takes place over two weeks from late July through early August. Events include a wide range of performances, a Midwinta Gala Ball fundraiser for Midsumma, visual arts exhibits, and much more.