This article was published on March 18th, 2019
Arguably the largest LGBT pride festival in the world has just come and gone, and left behind a trail of rainbow glitter in its wake. An annual staple in the gay calendar and a rite of passage for queer people everywhere to attend, Sydney Mardi Gras was wild, hot, bodacious, and en extremely good time in the land down undah. If there is one country that knows how to party, it’s Australia, and this year’s Sydney Mardi Gras did not disappoint as the biggest rainbow party of the year.
Aussies do it better, according to the folks in “Straya”. In the United States, there are massive parades on holidays like the Macy’s Day Parade, Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day, St. Patrick Day in Boston, Chicago, and NYC, and of course: New Orleans’ own Mardi Gras that puts these other parades to rest. Sydney Mardi succeeds at being just a little bit more extra than its predecessors.
Think Carnival in Rio meets the biggest gay party of your life. Over the top is an understatement at Mardi Gras in Australia’s largest city, Sydney. It isn’t even just a weekend or week-long affair—no, ladies and squirrels (which Australia doesn’t have but they pronounce like a certain Queer Eye cast member…sorry Tan France!), Sydney Mardi Gras is celebrated over an entire month. Darling Harbour, the CBD, and entire city of Sydney get decked out in all things rainbow for more than 30 days of events, parties, meetups, volunteering, community outreach, parades, concerts, fair days, and life celebrations. There really is nothing like it.
The entire month of partying leads up to a glorious and grand finale with the Sydney Mardi Gras parade and subsequent after party. Four million tourists flock from all over the world to down undah’s capital of cool, adding international appeal to its CV of awesomeness as a queer extravaganza. There are floats, dancers, costumes, and entertainers in the parade, that it bisects its way down Oxford Street and through several of Sydney’s gayborhoods, lasting a whopping four hours! The performers weren’t the only ones in costume: it seemed like everyone was donning Native American headdresses, war paint, glitter, skimpy underwear, and anything over the top and flashy.
Kylie Minogue began her Australian leg of her sold out Golden world tour, and Australia’s greatest export attended Sydney Mardi Gras as a guest with GBF in tow and tour mate, Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters. The two besties wowed audiences down under while on tour, and Kylie was greeted during the parade with a medley of some of her biggest hits performed by famous Australian drag queens, led by none-other-than Drag Race alum and drag superstar Courtney Act. Lights, a fire show, and fireworks over Sydney especially for Kylie Minogue welcomed the Goddess of Pop back to Straya with a bang.
The crown jewel of the Mardi Gras month in Sydney is the official Mardi Gras after party. With 12,000 expected to attend and an eventual 15,000 reported attendees, this official Mardi Gras event kicked off when the parade finished by starting at nearly midnight! Partiers danced to the beats of famous DJs from all over the world. International trans popstar Kim Petras headlined the event at nearly 4:00am, though no one seemed to mind the lateness when presented with such a sickening set by one of pop music’s current trendsetters. Jake Shears, Kitty Glitter, Powder Puff, and Courtney Act all performed.
There were, of course, the after after parties the following day and into Monday and Tuesday. The Australians, it seems, don’t like to let a good thing go away too soon. All in all, there’s really only one word to describe the shenanigans and outrageous time one will have by attending Sydney Mardi Gras. In the words of Kylie Minogue, Sydney Mardi Gras is just simply wow, wow, WOW!