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The Ultimate Guide To Sydney Mardi Gras

By Sophia Richardson - 15 Feb 2018

sydney mardis gras guide

Drop everything and mark February 16 to March 4 in your calendars—things are about to get glittery. We couldn’t be more excited that this month kicks off the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, otherwise known as the most fun, sparkly and iconic LGBTQI+ festival in Australia.

If you need a little help organising the next few weeks of partying, dancing and drinking—consider us experts—here’s the only guide you need to Sydney’s Mardis Gras.

Live Performances


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the biggest and most important news of 2018 has been that Cher (the drop dead gorgeous and LGBTQI icon with one name) is headlining Mardi Gras celebrations in Sydney. We (and all of Sydney) haven’t taken this news lightly and are already planning our outfits, on the prowl for tickets, and (most importantly) rehearsing Cher’s top 10 hits in the shower.

When: Saturday 3 March, 10pm till 8am
Where: Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park

Laneway Recovery Party

The only way you’ll truly recover from the OTT Mardi Gras party this year will be at the Laneway Recovery Party. Fact. This party has everything we love: DJs, surprise performances (will it be Cher?) and a whole lot of dancing and drinking. So do your future hungover self a favour and book yourself a ticket here

When: Sunday 4 March, 2pm till 1am
Where: The Beresford & Flinders Hotel

The Arts

Strangers In Between

Catch Strangers In Between this Mardi Gras, the play that broke box office records back in 2005 about a boy who fled to Kings Cross, seeking refuge and his own identity. Directed by Daniel Lammin, written by Tommy Murphy and boasting a stellar cast of Simon Burke, Guy Simon and Wil King, it’s a show not to be missed.

When: Wednesday 14 February – Friday 2 March, 7:30pm till 9pm
Where: Seymore Centre, Chippendale

Queer Screen Film Festival

Queer Screen is back, and ICYMI, it’s the annual Mardi Gras Film Festival celebrating a whopping 25 years this 2018. The line-up is going to be huge: think LGBTQI shorts, features, docos and special events, all in the very centre of Sydney (the perfect after work hang out we reckon). 

When: Thursday 15 February – Thursday 1 March
Where: Event Cinemas George Street

Museum Of Love & Protest

NAS is going to be home to 4 incredible decades of Mardi Gras memorabilia and history, with iconic costumes, rare footage and photos, posters, music, storytelling and artefacts. The museum will be celebrating the significance of Mardi Gras and the love, acceptance, protest, humour, pride, family, passion and creativity experienced in the past 40 years.

When: Friday 16 February – Sunday 4 March, 11am till 5pm
Where: National Art School, Darlinghurst

Chicks With Picks

The Seymour Centre has been delivering the damn goods lately, known for their courtyard live tunes under the setting summer sun. In celebration of the 2018 Mardi Gras they’re presenting a night so perfectly titled ‘Chicks With Picks’ complete with an all-female line up of new and upcoming Sydney musicians, and it’s totally free! 

When: Friday 23 February, 6pm till 9pm
Where: Seymour Centre, Chippendale

Queer Art After Hours

If you haven’t been to our beloved art gallery in a while, there is seriously no better time than this month. Queer Art After Hours sees gallery tours, live music and fabulous drinks all going down at the Art Gallery of NSW—and it won’t cost you a penny!

When: Wednesday 28 February, 5pm till 10pm
Where: Art Gallery of NSW

Talks & Ideas

Koori Gras

Koori Gras is your one stop shop for learning about First Peoples’ queer community and culture in a series of performances, talks and workshops this Mardi Gras. Throughout the week, get in on a community forum and dinner to discuss relevant issues for First Peoples’ communities and do not miss the Black Nulla Cabaret with leading national and international stars, DJs and drag artists (‘cause it’s really not Mardi Gras without any dancing right).  

When: Monday 19 February – Saturday 24 February, 10am till 11pm
Where: Carriageworks, Eveleigh

Queer Thinking

For two jam packed days of ideas, brainstorming, solutions and discussion, 2018 Queer Thinking is set to be a biggie. International and national LGBTQI speakers will have the floor in debates, discussions and personal stories. In the spirit of the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras, Queer Thinking will look back on the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQI community over the past 40 years.

When: Saturday 24 February – Sunday 25 February, 11am till 5:15pm
Where: Carriageworks, Eveleigh

The Parties

Absolut Sparkle

PSA: The first-ever Mardi Gras cocktail is here and with a name like Absolut Sparkle, you’re going to need to try one… or seven. At a handful of bars across Sydney, Absolut Sparkle will be making a glittery AF appearance this Mardi Gras, sooooo technically speaking you can get start drinking these bad boys every single day from Feb 16 all the way through until March 4. We mean, why wouldn’t you?

When: All Mardi Gras season
Where: The Beresford, Queens, Vic on the Park, Ms Gs and The Paddington

Stonewall Hotel Mardi Gras Night

The legends at Stonewall will be live streaming the entire Mardi Gras parade on the February 3, bringing you all the close ups without the enormous crowds. Don’t get us wrong, Stonewall is going to be pretty packed too (but can you really complain being surrounded by drag hosts and dancing men?). 

When: Saturday 3 March, from 5pm
Where: Stonewall Hotel, Darlinghurst

GiRLTHING Mardi Party

All we can say is get your god damn tickets on the ASAP, this is bound to be a sold out event—trust us. GiRLTHING know how to throw a freaking party and their annual Mardi Party is no exception. This year’s theme is Vaults of Heaven, so think evil or angelic, devilish or virtuous? Your pick. Watch the parade then kick on at the Mardi Party and we 110% guarantee you’re in for a mighty fine (oh-so-glittery) time.

When: Saturday 3 February, from 9pm
Where: Metro Theatre, CBD


It’s Sydney’s most iconic LGBTQI celebrated street, and this Mardi Gras will see the whole of Oxford Street light up with live DJs, $5 schooners, street BBQs and pumping local venues. With so many free events including a same sex marriage wedding-themed market, your Saturday plans are totally sorted.

When: Saturday 24 February, 12pm till 12am
Where: Oxford Street & Surrounds, Darlinghurst

Image credit: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras

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