One of Sydney's most-celebrated and most important cultural events, the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year bringing colour, self-expression and love to the streets of Sydney for three weeks.
If you're heading to Sydney to join the celebrations or just want to watch from afar in Mardi Gras final weekend - we've got you covered with this handy guide!
What Is The Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras?
The Mardi Gras is a celebration of LGBTQI+ people and is one of the landmark events on the Sydney social calendar. For two and a half weeks in February and March, the city becomes a rainbow of colour and hundreds of events dot the city celebrating the culture and diversity of the LGBTQI+ community.
One of the centrepieces of Mardi Gras celebrations is the Mardi Gras Parade, which has a long history stretching back 40 years.
On Saturday June 24, 1978, hundreds of people - gay, lesbian and straight - marched down Oxford Street to Hyde Park with music blaring from a truck. The event was in support of the National Homosexual Conference and in protest of the upcoming visit of homophobic campaigner Mary Whitehouse. As the march made its way to Hyde Park, police constantly dogged the revellers and as the march diverted to Darlinghurst Road, police ended up beating and arresting 53 men and women.
The legacy of that first march lives on in the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade that takes place annually. Moreover, the first march changed legislation in the New South Wales Parliament, allowing for people to demonstrate without the need for a permit, as long as they informed police. The following year, up to 3000 revellers marched along the streets of Sydney and the following year, a huge after party was announced.
Not only does the Parade celebrate the LGBTQI+ community - it also champions the causes and highlights the issues that affect the community around the world.
Last year, marriage equality was a huge topic and legislation was passed through the Federal Government late last year that changed the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to wed.
When Is The 2018 Sydney Mardi Gras Parade?
The Mardi Gras Parade takes place on Saturday, March 3 at 7pm AEDT and concludes at 11pm AEDT. It is a free event.
The Parade runs from Hyde Park down Oxford Street, turns at the Diamond Club down Flinders Street and finishes at Moore Park. You can view the route here. If you're looking to get to the Parade, the closest station is Museum, but it will be closed from 5pm AEDT Saturday evening, so plan accordingly.
Mardi Gras Parade 2018: How To Watch
If you're not heading to the event itself, you can still catch the stream online, with SBS providing full, live coverage through multiple different streaming platforms. You can view it at SBS On Demand, via their Twitter page or through their Facebook page. Pretty comprehensive coverage all-round.
SBS will also air a special broadcast that delves into the history of the event, interviews with some of those who marched in 1978 and highlights from the festival on Sunday, March 4 at 8:30pm AEDT.
Where To Party During Sydney Mardi Gras 2018
The official Mardi Gras Party takes place at Playbill Venues in Fox Studios at Moore Park from 10pm AEDT, Saturday March 3. A selection of 25 DJs and icon of pop Cher will be playing live until the early hours of Sunday morning.
If you're looking to get in and don't already have a ticket, you're out of luck. The second hand markets are offering up tickets - Gumtree has some, as does Viagogo - but these are sometimes topping out at the $600-$700 mark. If you're desperate to get in, those are your options.
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However, that isn't your only option, of course. Most of Sydney will be alive, especially the pubs and clubs between Hyde Park and Moore Park. If you think those pesky Sydney lockout laws are going to ruin all the fun - there is some good news. Minister for Racing, Paul Toole announced on Twitter that there will be exemptions for venues on Saturday night.
— Paul Toole MP (@PaulTooleMP) February 21, 2018
For a full list of LGBTQI+ friendly locations visit the link below.
However you spend Mardi Gras, enjoy yourself and be safe this weekend!