Gay pride celebrations in Australia take a decidedly different tack than those in many parts of the world. In the country's largest cities, the premier GLBT annual event is actually a major queer cultural festival lasting two to three weeks -- Midsumma Melbourne in January and Adelaide Feast Festival in November are excellent examples of this.
But the most famous of Australia's GLBT cultural celebrations is unquestionably Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which takes place from February 17 through March 5 in 2017 with the famed Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade set for March 4. Spectators and participants from all over the world attend this multi-faceted, high-energy event consisting of parties, parades, performances, fairs, harbor regattas, and plenty more.
History of Sydney Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras was begun in late June 1978, in an effort to commemorate the Stonewall Riots that spurred the modern Gay Rights Movement in New York City in June of 1969. There's an excellent history of Sydney Mardi Gras on the official event site. It traces this initially modest event's beginnings to its development into one of the world's foremost celebrations of both gay culture and political solidarity.
2017 Sydney Mardi Gras
More about 2017 Mardi Gras will be posted here as details are released. In the meantime, the information below relates to last year's celebration and should give you an idea of what to expect next year:
As always, Mardi Gras will feature several first-rate performers and DJ talents at parties throughout the celebration - for a complete list (with dates and times), check the official Mardi Gras 2017 calendar, which will be posted on the official site during the weeks leading up to the event.
The two most famous must-attend events are the Oxford and Flinders Streets Mardi Gras Parade and the Mardi Gras Party. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, which is a free event, takes place from 7 pm until 10:30 pm on Saturday, along Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, at Taylor Square, the heart of the city's gay bar and entertainment district. You can expect more than 10,000 revelers to show up for this huge event.
The Mardi Gras Party follows the parade, commencing at 10 pm and lasting into the wee hours - around 8 am. This massive gathering, which took place last year at the Playbill Venues & Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park (at 122 Lang Rd.). Wondering who's performing at the party this year? The list includes plenty of top talents - details are to be released. You can purchase tickets to the Mardi Gras Party online.
Other major events at Mardi Gras include the opening Fair Day, where some 80,000 participants congregate and visit with community organizations, watch live music, and people-watch at Victoria Park (City Rd. and Cleveland St.), on Sunday from 10 am until about 8. This is a free event.
Sydney Gay Resources
For more on the Sydney gay scene, check out the Sydney Gay-Friendly Hotels Guide, if you're seeking lodging ideas. Check local gay papers, such as the Sydney Star Observer and SX News, for details, as well as such useful online resources as SameSame.com's Sydney section. Also take a look at the excellent site produced by the region's official tourism organization, Tourism New South Wales, along with the official Visit Sydney website.