It’s one of the most, if not the most, significant events on Sydney’s cultural calendar—and you better believe a global pandemic ain't going to rain on this parade. Yes, Sydney’s legendary Mardi Gras season is back with rainbow hues and glitter galore, plus plenty of happenings around town—from drag-fuelled bottomless brunches to 12-hour dance parties.
This year’s theme is 'United We Shine', celebrating togetherness after years spent more isolated than we'd like thanks to the not-so-fabulous Rona, as well as the ongoing push for inclusivity in our communities. In other words, it’s a damn good cause to celebrate.
What are you waiting for? Grab your eco-friendly glitter, put on those platforms, and book in your Mardi Gras plans, stat.
Mardi Gras Parades And Festivals
Darlinghurst and Kings Cross | Thursday 17 February – Sunday 6 March
The official Mardi Gras Parade may have moved from Oxford Street to the SCG, but that doesn’t mean the iconic suburbs of Darlinghurst and Kings Cross are celebrating any less. Oxtravaganza, a two-week festival of all things LGBTQIA+, is back for its sixth year—and it’s planning one helluva party.
Over 100 local businesses in the area have banded together to celebrate—be it with bottomless brunches, cabaret shows, or cocktails in cosy bars. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with live music, exhibitions, and on-street shows set to descend on the ‘Glittering Mile’ suburb, plus retail offerings galore. So, grab some lube-flavoured ice cream, catch an exhibition, watch a drag queen dazzle a crowd, and support the local community. Sounds like fun? Head over here for the full lineup of events.
Mardi Gras Parade
Sydney Cricket Ground | Saturday 5 March, from 6pm
Alas, this year the official Mardi Gras Parade will be held at the SCG again thanks to COVID. If, in the past, you found yourself staring at the backs of heads unable to see the glittering parade, then perhaps the move is a blessing. With the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade celebrating its 44th year, it’s an event you won’t want to miss—no matter the location. Expect the parade to fulfill its legacy of celebration, expression, and protest. This year, there’ll be over 6500 marchers and more than 160 glittering floats, including the Dykes on Bikes and First Nations floats. On the live music front, it’s teed up some big-hitters—namely the legendary Vanessa Amorosi and Savage Garden frontman, Darren Hayes. It’s bound to be an unforgettable night. Interested? Snag your tickets here.
Mardi Gras Parties
SCENES Mardi Gras Weekend
Civic Underground | Friday 4 March, from 10pm
Following a prolonged break due to NSW Health restrictions, Civic Underground’s party series, SCENES, is making a comeback this Mardi Gras weekend with a wicked lineup. Kicking off at 10pm, the party is hosting Mitch Fowler and Shacklo, who’ll be serving a heap of dance tracks to commence the weekend celebrations. Just walking distance from Oxford Street, Civic is the prime location to start (or finish) your Friday night. Tickets cost just under $25 and can be bought over here. Just make sure to grab yours before they sell out.
Hot Mess House Party
The Oxford Tavern | Saturday 5 March, 9pm–3am
It's rare to find a Mardi Gras party that's not ticketed but, thankfully, some do exist. One such event is The Oxford Tavern's Hot Mess House Party which is completely free to attend. Sure, bookings are recommended, but sometimes you should let your hair down, throw caution to the wind, and live a little. After all, some of the best nights out are unplanned ones. So, keep this gem in the back pocket. It's lined up The Dollar Bin Darlings and their Bottom Dollar Buddies to host an evening of DJ tracks and go-go dancers. With a catchcry like 'no song requests only midnight kisses* (no promises)' you know it's going to be fun.
Vic On The Pardi Gras
Vic On The Park | Saturday 5 March, from 2pm
If you aren’t grabbing tickets to this year’s official Parade at the SCG, opt for a Mardi Gras party that’s bound to be equally fabulous. Opening its doors at 2pm, the beloved Inner West pub promises great tunes, go-go dancers, and a live outdoor broadcast of the Parade. Plus, it’s all being hosted by the Dollar Bin Darlings. What’s better? Unlike the Mardi Gras parade, you won’t have to leave after the show. In fact, The Vic has lined up live music to kick off at 9.30pm, followed by DJs spinning tracks from 11.30pm onwards. Head here for more info and to snap up your tickets.
FINALE Mardi Gras Closing Party
Home The Venue | Sunday 6 March, 9pm–9am
We all know that the best way to escape a hangover is to just keep on going, right?!? Celebrating the final day of the Mardi Gras celebrations, Home The Venue is going all out with a FINALE party. Kicking off at 9pm on Sunday and going hard until 9am the following day, the event promises to see out Mardi Gras with a bang.
World-renowned DJs including Aron, Ben Bakson, Cacá Wernek, and Erik Villar will all be playing, alongside RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 6 winner, Kylie Sonique Love. Final release tickets are currently on sale, so we recommend you nab yours ASAP over here.
Mardi Gras Food And Drink
Mardi Gras Cocktails At The Winery
The Winery | Daily till 9 March
When it comes to Mardi Gras, any old brew won't do. After all, it’s a time to celebrate big—which means swapping that schooey for OTT cocktails. Thankfully, The Winery is slinging a specialty cocktail menu, which features a whopping 13 colourful, fruity and impressive tipples and is available till 9 March. Or, opt to join its Big Gay Brunch sessions, hosted on Saturdays and Sundays over the celebration period. To book, head to the website.
Some Mardi With Your Foie Gras?
Beckett's | Thursday 3 March, from 7pm
If you're planning to start the celebrations a little early, make tracks to Glebe's semi-subterranean restaurant, Beckett's, for a fanciful evening of fabulous drag and fine French fare. For one night only, the Inner West diner has queen Crystal Ball performing big musical theatre numbers, from ballads to dance-inducing tunes. She'll be sashaying her way around the dining room as you tuck into your meal. You can even dress up, just make sure it's in Pantone's Colour of the Year, Very Peri—so don your finest fits in periwinkle and you could score a prize. No tickets are required for the event, but we suggest you book a table toot suite.
NOLA Mardi Gras Menu
NOLA Smokehouse | Friday 4 March, from 4pm
While we'd argue Sydney does Mardi Gras the best, you can't deny that the OG parade from New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) is up there. So it makes sense that Barangaroo's NOLA-themed barbecue joining, NOLA Smokehouse, is putting on one helluva party. It's lined up three specialty cocktails and an epic champagne punch as well as Carolina-style pork ribs with whiskey glaze, which you can get a kilo of for $70, and a Southern Comfort-spiked tiramisu. On top of all the food and booze, there'll be a brass band roaming through the restaurant from 6pm, playing a swag of Big Easy tunes. To book, head here.
Drag King Bottomless Brunch
Elm Rooftop Bar | Saturdays till 2 April, 11am–1pm
Another drag-fuelled bunch on the agenda is Elm Rooftop’s new Drag King Bottomless Brunch series. Starting on 26 February, the boozy (and boujee) feast will be hosted by resident drag king Axl Rod. Never heard of a drag king? Oh, honey. Kings are usually female-identifying performance artists dressed up in masculine drag and personify male gender norms.
Packages start at $129 and include two hours of cuvée and rosé, a heap of food, and some excellent performances. Head over here to make your booking.
POOF DOOF Drag Brunch—Ivy
Ivy Pool Club | Saturday 5 March, 12pm
Trust us, you'll want to catch this Poof Doof Mardi Gras brunch at Ivy. Kicking off at 12pm, Ivy Pool Club will be indulging guests with 90 minutes of bottomless mimosas and high tea treats. Of course, what’s a drag brunch without a runway installation right in the centre? Lucky for you, Coco Jumbo, Sia Tequila, and Danni Issues are all set to dazzle as you dine. Nab a ticket over here.
Mardi Gras Menu At Cuckoo Callay
Cuckoo Callay Surry Hills and Newtown | Daily till 6 March
If you've ever been to either Cuckoo Callay location, you'll know they don't do things by halves here. The Surry Hills menu boasts dishes like Crunchy Nut-coated french toast and OTT bircher muesli with mango lassi and makrut lime sorbet, making it a go-to brunch spot; while the Newtown hole-in-the-wall has lemon and white chocolate pancakes and a dish called 'Tribute to the greatest reuben', which, as you may have guessed, is a reuben sambo. Well, now Cuckoo Callay is going even more bold with a Mardi Gras-inspired menu. The french toast has been jazzed up with rainbow meringue, there's a limited-edition Po'Boy in honour of the New Orleans Mardi Gras, and you can also order watermelon and cucumber sangria jugs to really get the party started.
Heaps Gay x Absolut Present: The Roast
The Refectory at University Of Sydney | Sunday 6 March, from 12–5pm
While the official Mardi Gras parade is taking over the SCG on Saturday 5 March, that doesn’t mean the party ends there. Yep, you can keep the good times going at The Roast: an afternoon of queer food, drink, comedy, and theatre that’s going down on Sunday 6 March. Subverting the traditional family meal, the event promises to be anything but dull. For $108.90, you’ll get a four-course banquet by way of famed chef Anna Polyviou, plus plenty of cocktails. Of course, there’ll also be some entertainment, with Mangarai queen Tyra Bankstown, collective House of Silky, and some surprise guests on the bill, as well as tunes from the likes of Johnny Seymour (Stereogamous), and Timothy & The Heart Strings, and the legendary Paul Mac. For more information and to book tickets, head here.
Mardi Gras Art, Theatre, And Shows
Laugh Out Proud
Enmore Theatre | Friday 25 February, 7.30–9.15pm
For one night only, the campest comedy event of the year is returning to Sydney for some serious laughs. Laugh Out Proud will be showcasing fan favourites, funny faithfuls and rising stars within the LGBTQIA+ community. For $60, you’ll catch side-splitting acts from comedians such as Mel Buttle, Scout Boxall, and Charlie Lewin—with even more to be announced. Laugh Out Proud was a sell-out event in 2020 and 2021, so we doubt this year will be any different. To book tickets, head over here.
Mardi Gras Dog Show
The Beresford | Sunday 27 February, 11am–2pm
It’s time to grab the collar and leash, this Mardi Gras event is for fabulous fur babies. Kicking off at 11am on Saturday 27 February, The Beresford’s much-loved Dog Show is the cutest event on the bill, promising pooch parades and doggie treats galore. The pub’s lush courtyard will become home to fur-friendly market stalls in the morning, followed by free photo booth shoots and the always-adorable beauty pageant in the afternoon. There’ll even be prizes for best dressed, best lookalike, and best rescue. The Beresford Dog Show is allowing walk-ins, or you can book a table to secure your spot.
Mardi Gras x AGNSW Queer Art After Hours
The Art Gallery of NSW | Wednesday 2 March, 5–10pm
Keen to get cultured? Then head over to the Art Gallery of NSW for an after-hours showcase of colourful queer artistry on 2 March. You’ll be able to catch some seriously talented performance artists, plus workshops, stories, live tunes, and gallery tours—all centred around this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras theme, ‘United We Shine’. Performances include neo-burlesque star Demon Derriere, Wiradjuri poet and artist Jazz Money, and pole dancing from the extraordinary Club Chrome. You’ll witness some incredible art that you might not ordinarily come across, plus get to explore the gallery after dark. Oh, and it’s completely free to attend, but spaces are limited and you must book a spot. More tickets are may be released, so be sure to keep an eye on AGNSW's website for tickets, as well as for more info.
For more ways to rock the rainbow now and always—check out Sydney's permanent rainbow path or our fave drag shows.
Image credit: Merivale, Destination NSW, Jeffrey Feng via Destination NSW, Vic On The Park, The Winery, Beckett's, Cuckoo Callay