Bear Essentials begins today!

Bear Essentials is the Harbour City Bears' festival within a festival during Mardi Gras.

The Harbour City Bears are one of the largest and most prominent LGBTQIA+ social groups in Sydney, and this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will be another opportunity to showcase their identities with pride.

The three week Bear Essentials festival has been running since 1995 in parallel with Mardi Gras, and has become one of queer Sydney’s staple events.

The Harbour City Bears are the largest Bear association in the Southern Hemisphere and hold over 140 events each year, including weekly social events, dance parties, and dinners.

The line up for Bear Essentials in 2024 will leave you flawed and gagging for more, with 19 events filling up the calendar over three weeks.
Bear Essentials kicks off with a “Meet and Greet” for the Harbour City Bears at the Town Hall Hotel in Newtown from midday.

The event is starting earlier due to the cancellation of Mardi Gras Fair Day. Bear Essentials will be taking over all three floors of the Townie, with free entry for members.

Press Paws is at Gingers upstairs at the Oxford Hotel on Tuesday, February 20, from 6pm and is a video game tournament with a $10 playing fee hosted by Gayme Master Daniel.

There will also be two Bare Paws beach days during Bear Essentials at Little Congwong Beach on February 22 and at Obelisk Beach on February 26, both from 11am, to relax and chill out in the sun.

Furry Fridays will continue throughout Mardi Gras, with free entry nights at the Oxford Hotel on February 23 and March 1.

Expect drag, comedy and music at Big ‘N’ Burly Cabearet upstairs at the Oxford Hotel on Friday, February 23 from 6.30pm for an evening of talented bears. This is a ticketed event so make sure to book online.

For those looking for a more relaxed daytime event, Hung Cheung restaurant will be hosting a Yum Cha Brunch on February 24 from 11am with tickets including access to After-Brunch Drinks at Marrickville’s newest LGBTQIA+ venue Miss Wolf.

Everything comes to a head on February 28, with the infamous Underbear party taking over Space Nightclub from 9pm, featuring leading Australian DJs and an anything goes dress code.

For kick-ons, the Underbear Afterparty will be held at Sydney Sauna from 1am, where partygoers will receive discounted entry at the door.

If you’re still wanting to keep the fun going, the party continues the next day, with a Sauna Party being hosted at Sydney City Steam at 7pm.

The Bears will also be throwing a Wet Furr pool party on March 1 at the Cook and Phillip Pool from 6pm, with drinks and snacks included in the ticket price.

Of course, like every year, the Bear community will be marching in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade hosted by Harbour City Bears and the United Bears of Australasia, with bear clubs from all around Australia and New Zealand set to march.

The Bear Essentials Farewell for Mardi Gras will be held the next day on Sunday, March 3, at the Town Hall Hotel Newtown from 3pm, a regular venue for the Sydney Bear community.

-For more information and for tickets go to

Harry Hadley

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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