If it is not the pinnacle LGBT pride event on the planet, it is certainly close. Sydney Mardi Gras turns 26 in 2014 and the festival can still preen and strut with the best of them. The most powerful boost to the city’s economy takes over Australia’s linchpin metropolis for the entire month of February, swells to a fever pitch sometime at the end of the month and hits a crescendo with the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade.
Here are some tips and highlights to help you make the most of Mardi Gras 2014.
This colourful procession of fierceness – and pride, of course – takes place on Saturday, March 1 on Oxford Street. This is the big event so it pays off to heed some words of wisdom from festival vets. To wit, make sure to arrive early and check back on the festival’s Twitter or Facebook for up-to-date info on transport and road closures. Alternatively, save yourself a lot of hassle and purchase a ticket to view the spectacle up close and personal.
This is a lot easier this year thanks to the new Flinders Seats. This more affordable area is located on the parade route on Flinders Street and is made up of a grandstand with easy access to bars, food and, importantly, bathrooms. The locale is perfect for those who want a ringside seat for the event’s spectacular surprise finale and includes special prices for children under the age of 14 and transport from Central Station.
Fair Day, the other massive draw of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, will be held in Victoria Park, Camperdown on Sunday, February 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. This community event is just one huge and inclusive love-in, as Mardi Gras takes over gorgeous Victoria Park for a picnic al fresco style, under the sun with some 70,000 people.
The day includes concerts and other live performances on the main stage, drag shows, stuff for the kids, sundry entertainment, gourmet grub and drink, a marketplace, a Fitness First Zone, and for canine lovers, Doggywood.
Almost as key as Fair Day is After the Fair. Everybody loves a good after-party and in this case, the action will be in Newtown, as the Newtown Hotel and Bank Hotel host DJs and entertainment galore. In terms of accommodation be sure check out hotels in Sydney well in advance – plenty of options abound but this is the pillar event of the year in the city.
The Mardi Gras party scene is non-stop the entire month of February. It is a wonder participants get any work done at all – there is practically a must-attend bash a day, if not informally, for the duration of the festival. With too many to name, some of the official standouts in 2014 include: Harbour Party at Botanic Gardens Sydney on February 22, Pool Party at The Ivy Pool Club Bar on February 24, Sunset Cruise at Man’o’War Warf on February 26 and the raucous Laneway party to close it all down on March 2.
Again, as with all events on the Mardi Gras calendar, book, book, book in advance!