About This Festival
Sydney Mardi Gras is a little like Vegas—what happens here, stays here. Still, keeping a party this great a secret isn’t easy, and every Australian summer, the city hosts the most anticipated lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) event in the world. From a rowdy parade and film festival to day-time dance parties and academic discussions, this celebration is perfect for anyone who likes to have a good time—gay or straight.
Pride, No Prejudice
For those who’ve experienced the San Francisco Pride Parade, there’s really little comparison between these two. San Francisco may have the heart and bigger crowds, but Sydney knows how to throw a fabulous pageant with even more glitter and glamour. Plus, unlike most of the gay pride parades, this is a nighttime procession, so people come ready to party.
The parade starts in Hyde Park and winds its way down Oxford and Flinders streets by way of Taylor Square (a good spot for people-watching) before ending in Moore Park. Stake out a place on the street 2 or 3 hours early, and find a milk crate (or 6-inch heels) so you can get a good view. If you don’t like crowds, buy a ticket for the Glamstands, which gives you an elevated seat from where you can take in all the festivities. There are enough over-the-top floats, sexy dancing groups and skimpy costumes that you might mistake this for Rio during Carnival. This is a participatory event, and the audience is full of people decked out in their finest wacky wardrobes. You may think you’re a spectator, but the truth is people are looking at you as well, so come dressed for the part.
At some point you’ll follow the parade to the Fox Studios in Moore Park, where the all-night dancing is held. Given the friendly nature of the crowd, you can stop into any of the most popular bars—Oxford, Stonewall, Columbian—and ask about where there might be a private party. In the many primarily gay neighborhoods such as Darlinghurst, Surry Hills or King’s Cross, all you have to do is walk down the street and you’ll see someone’s front door open (most locals are proud to have so many out-of-towners visiting them). If you’ve still got energy, consider going to the official morning-after party at Luna Park.