It’s time to get drenched in glitter and paint Sydney in big bold stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and indigo.
Yep, Mardi Gras is here and happening, and Sydney’s really turning it on in 2019 with an eclectic and exciting assortment of ways to get involved, get down and celebrate love and diversity and culture and everything LGBTQIA+.
The theme for this year’s festival is “Fearless”—an ode to the immeasurable number of queer people in Sydney and around the world fearlessly expressing and owning who they are. Pretty damn good reason to celebrate.
As well as watching or walking in the iconic weekend parade, we’ve pulled together a list of the best parties, art, food, drink and limited-edition clothing collections to get around this year.
THE MARDI GRAS PARTY
The official Mardi Gras party will turn the Royal Hall of Industries, Max Watts and the Hordern Pavillion into three immersive worlds. The lineup is epic too—think PNAU, HANDSOME, Courtney Act and Boris from Berlin's iconic Berghain nightclub. More details are here.
When: Saturday 2 March, 10pm - 8am
Where: Hordern Pavillion, Moore Park
LANEWAY RECOVERY PARTY
A tried and true Mardi Gras tradition, the only way you'll recover from the festivities of Saturday night is to kick it into Sunday night. Fact. This party has everything we love: DJs, surprise performances, and a whole lot of dancing. Even better when Sneaky Sound System are due to rock up. So do your future hungover self a favour and book yourself a ticket here.
When: Sunday 3 March, 2pm - 11pm
Where: The Beresford Hotel, Surry Hills
BLACKOUT AND SATURGAY AFTER PARTY
The Mary's guys really know how to throw a party, so you can expect their Mardi Gras bash to be a doozy. For an after party to end all after parties at The Lansdowne, SATURgAY will get disco downstairs while the art legends at Blackout will be upstairs with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQA+ mob, Brotha Boys, Sista Girls and their supporters. Featuring over 30 artists, DJs and entertainers spread across two levels and three rooms, this will be the party not to miss. Head over here for a ticket.
When: Saturday 2 March, from 9pm
Where: The Lansdowne, Chippendale
Ok, so we weren't lying when we said the after party at The Lansdowne would be sick. But you may have to leave some space in your party budget for Heaps Gay's epic Pardi Gras party. Conveniently hosted up the road at Manning Bar, the crew at Heaps Gay have buddied up with none other than Beats by Dre to bring us a super stacked lineup of international musicians, DJs, performers and artists.
When: Saturday 2 March, 8pm - 3am
Where: Manning Bar, University of Sydney
Eat And Drink
PRADA CLUTCH DINNER
Brix Distillers are throwing one hell of a three-course feast hosted by the 6-foot something songstress Prada Clutch, known for her live-singing, dancing and all the showgirl sass. You'll get a cocktail on arrival and the food sounds absolutely epic: king prawn waffles served with coconut cream, mushroom ravioli with burnt butter bechamel, tarragon and pistachio, and wagyu skirt with pickled red cabbage, chimichurri and potato cake. Tickets are here.
When: Thursday 28 February, 6:30pm - 11pm
Where: Brix Distillers, Surry Hills
Theatre, Music And Extra Events
What's better than a burlesque show packed with cabaret tributes and dedicated to this year's Mardi Gras theme, "Fearless"? A show served up with a three-course banquet and a glass of champagne on arrival. Head over here for more details and tickets.
When: Wednesday 27 February, 7:30pm
Where: The Birdcage, Pyrmont
Think you've got what it takes to really, truly strut your stuff on the catwalk? Misfits in Redfern is giving you the opportunity to prove it, just in time for Mardi Gras. Hosted by Sydney's own April Fools, the winner will take home a tiara, sash, sceptre, cash prize and supreme bragging rights. Enter the comp on the door or right here.
When: Friday 1 March, 7pm
Where: Misfits, Redfern
BATTLE OF THE DRAGS
In support of the Black Dog Institute, The Winery in Surry Hills is hosting a set of drag battles in the week leading up to the Mardis Gras parade. Members of Sydney Drag Royalty will go head to head performing tunes from icons like Elton John, Gaga, Kylie, Cher, Dolly and Madonna. A portion of ticket proceeds will be donated to Black Dog, so head over here and book a spot.
When: Tuesday 26 February to Saturday 2 March, from 5pm
Where: The Winery, Surry Hills
JAG QUEEN SERVICE CENTRE
On parade day, you'll be able to get a full-face drag-formation at the Jaguar Jag Queen pop up as part of a special partnership they've set up with the make-up gods at Sephora. Jaguar will be collecting donations for Twenty10, Australia’s longest standing LGBTQIA+ youth charity.
When: Saturday 2 March, 12pm - 6pm
Where: Jag Queen Service Centre, 191 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
LEITIS IN WAITING
Screening as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival, Leitis In Waiting dives into the smallest kingdom in the world, Tonga to reveal the history and plight of leitis: the indigenous transgender women who have traditionally played a central role in society as attendants to the royal family. Told through the eyes of Joey Mataele, the doco reveals how religious fundamentalism is tragically on the rise in the South Pacific kingdom. Watch the trailer here and grab your ticket here.
When: Wednesday 27 February, 6:30pm
Where: Event Cinemas (George Street)
MARDI GRAS SPIN
The fitness legends at Flow Athletic are hosting a very special spin session with DJ Kirsty Jade on the decks to get your legs pumping. Flow Athletic will match the $10 from every sale with funds going to the Aurora Group, which is a NSW based charity raising funds to disburse to organisations providing much-needed support and services to the many different facets of the LGBTQIA+ community. More details are here.
When: Saturday 2 March, 10am
Where: Flow Athletic, Paddington
THE UPSIDE MARDI GRAS CAPSULE COLLECTION
Get in the spirit when you're sweating it out with THE UPSIDE super fun Rainbow Pride capsule. There's a muscle tee and matching tights and crop slashed with sweet rainbows-on-repeat. For every tank sold before March 2nd, THE UPSIDE will be donating $10 to Twenty10. Check it out here.
When: Available now
Where: THE UPSIDE
Image credit: Rhuma Hazzet at the Jaq Queen Service Centre.