Mardi gras turns 40

It’s that time of year as Sydney frocks up and par­ties across town, for the an­nual Mardi Gras – turn­ing 40 this year!

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It all started 40 years ago as a demon­stra­tion that turned into a riot, tore a city apart and changed the coun­try for­ever.

This year, the Sydney Gay and Les­bian Mardi Gras turns 40, and this mile­stone birth­day will show that the civil rights demon­stra­tion has lost none of its lus­tre – or fab­u­lous­ness.

This is the time when the Har­bour City puts on its best glad rags, throws on a pair of high heels, adds a layer of sparkle and dances its way across town for one of the big­gest events of the year.

The 2018 theme is “40 Years of Evo­lu­tion”, which will be show­cased in a sea­son of events, shows and par­ties. And in the wake of the Mar­riage Equal­ity law, the Mardi Gras will paint the town in rain­bow colours!

Over the last 40 years, the Mardi Gras has grown into one of the big­gest an­nual fes­ti­vals in Aus­tralia, at­tract­ing an es­ti­mated 25,000 vis­i­tors. Aside from the many events through­out the fes­ti­val, an es­ti­mated 400,000 peo­ple turn out to watch the Mardi Gras Pa­rade as it struts through the city streets.

The main ac­tion kicks off with Fair Day on Fe­bru­ary 18 at Vic­to­ria Park, a short walk from Sydney’s new Cen­tral Park precinct. This is a party in the park, com­plete with stalls, com­mu­nity groups and en­ter­tain­ment that at­tracts al­most 100,000 peo­ple to en­joy the many colours of Mardi Gras’s rst ma­jor event.

Then, it’s a cav­al­cade of shows and events across the fes­ti­val, in­volv­ing a range of star names. Show­man Todd

McKen­ney will head­line the Mardi Gala con­cert at the Opera House, shar­ing a stage with jun­gle-queen Casey

Dono­van and Les Girls leg­end Car­lotta, who has be­come a reg­u­lar guest pan­el­list on TV’s Stu­dio 10. Gen­der bend­ing singer

Courtney Act re­turns home with a new show, Un­der the

Cov­ers. Ever since Courtney ap­peared on RuPaul’s Drag Race a few years back, she has been a head­line star in the US and Europe, and this marks her rst time back on the Sydney stage in a while. Speak­ing of

Drag Race – the orig­i­nal New York 1980s un­der­ground house dance

balls, where a young RuPaul rst made a mark – it will nd its way into the Mardi Gras with the Sissy Ball.

This will be a Vogue-style ex­pe­ri­ence, com­plete with ex­trav­a­gance on the run­way to a ball­room sound­track.

Dance oor di­vas will also have their own spe­cial events, with Bar Kylie be­ing a marathon of the elder

Minogue sis­ter’s discog­ra­phy, while Rebel Bar will hold The Ul­ti­mate Madonna Party – a night-long trib­ute to the orig­i­nal Ma­te­rial Girl.

Then the dou­ble-header main event nale takes place on Satur­day March 3, as the Mardi Gras takes over the city for the 40th time with the Pa­rade, to be fol­lowed by the all-night Party.

The Mardi Gras Pa­rade re­veals its many colours, as it snakes its way from down­town Sydney and up Ox­ford Street be­fore wind­ing its way through Moore Park to Fox Stu­dios.

This is the night to frock up and throw on some glit­ter, as a pass­ing pa­rade of the fun – the out­ra­geously adorned and the sassy, satir­i­cal and se­ri­ous – all march past to cel­e­brate the Sydney com­mu­nity. Leg­endary co­me­dian Magda Szuban­ski is be­ing tipped as one of the stars to lead the pa­rade.

The Mardi Gras Party is when more than 12,000 par­ty­go­ers cel­e­brate in a range of pav­il­ions, danc­ing the night away. Some of the in­ter­na­tional star names who have per­formed at pre­vi­ous par­ties in­clude Kylie Minogue, Dan­nii Minogue, Delta Goodrem, Olivia New­ton-John, Tina Arena, Jes­sica Mauboy, Boy Ge­orge, Jake Shears, Jimmy Barnes and the late Ge­orge Michael.

As the Mardi Gras turns 40, the leg­endary event looks set to prove the years have not worn it down. If any­thing, this year’s Mardi Gras prom­ises to shine on, with all its glit­ter and se­quins per­fectly in place. What a time to touch down in the Har­bour City!


Boy Ge­orge

Casey Dan­nii and Delta Todd

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