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!
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!
Casey Dannii and Delta Todd