Is Sydney Mardi Gras worth going to?

One of the world’s biggest LGBTQ Pride festivals should definitely be on your travel wish-list.

Is Sydney Mardi Gras worth going to?

Without doubt, Sydney Mardi Gras is a fantastic time to be in one of Australia’s most beautiful and exciting cities.

What began as a protest march has now flourished into a huge cultural festival, embraced by the city and attracting visitors from around the world.

There’s a huge range of events and parties to take part in across the festival, and the main event is the enormous parade filled with marching groups and spectacular floats, cheered on by massive crowds.

My last visit to Sydney Mardi Gras was in 2012 when my friend Tristan and I decided we needed to escape the London winter. This was the 34th Mardi Gras celebration but only my second.

On parade day it was raining, but that’s not unusual for Sydney and parade organisers seemed well-equipped for wet-weather conditions.

In line with tradition, it was the Dykes on Bikes who revved up the crowd as they roared up and down the parade route, and we cheered each group and float as they marched on by — 9100 marchers and 134 floats lit up Oxford Street.

After the march we headed on to the “Mardigrasland” party — a sold-out event where 15,300 revellers converged on a huge complex of different dance areas, with the main room headlined by RuPaul and Kylie Minogue. In many ways this performance was a home-coming for Minogue — a unique opportunity for her to celebrate a milestone in her career and demonstrate her connection to the world’s gays and lesbians who have been loyal supporters since the beginning.

There had been a special tribute float in the parade earlier this evening (complete with representations of each of Minogue’s iconic outfits and a lot of dancers) and the buzz amongst party-goes had all been about Minogue’s performance: What numbers would she sing? What would she be wearing? How many back-up dancers would there be? Minogue knows her audience well and was met with a rapturous reception as she took to the stage.

With a beaming smile throughout, the diminutive singer belted out her latest hits and threw in a few classics. There were back-up dancers a-plenty and Minogue was clearly enjoying herself as she flirted with the adoring crowd. It was an amazing night.

The next morning was filled with brilliant sunshine and we headed to the Day Wash party at the Chinese Laundry venue in the Darling Harbour precinct.

There’s nothing better than dancing outside in the sun to some great music, and there was a lot of tops-off action from the upbeat crowd. Unsurprisingly the rain came again but the Daywash dancers refused to be washed out.

Mardi Gras in Sydney is one of the world’s biggest pride festivals and has become a firm fixture on the international stage, attracting more than 20,000 visitors to the city and injecting AUD$30m into the local economy.

This is an event that is definitely worth adding to your travel bucket-list.

Originally published at on July 16, 2017.

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