In the third instalment of QNew’s guide to what to do during the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival we explore all of the free events across the festival. You can read the first and second instalments here and here
Mardi Gras Fair Day
If you’re looking for a rainbow extravaganza where you’ll be surrounded by love, joy and our beautiful LGBTQIA+SB family celebrating from day-to-night in queer bliss, then consider your fête sealed once you enter Mardi Gras Fair Day! Join over 70,000 Mardi Gras goers as they make Victoria Park centrestage for a day of dapper dogs, DJs, dancefloors and over 200 food, retail and community stalls – along with six stages and six bars keeping you entertained and and your whistles thoroughly wet. Kick-off the 2024 Mardi Gras Festival the only right way, with this annual global gathering like no other!
Where love and joy meet LGBTQIA+ celebrations!
FIRST NATIONS CIRCLE presented in partnership with BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation
Celebrate the exquisite vision that is Blak excellence at the First Nations Circle. Returning to Fair Day in 2024, peruse Blak-owned businesses, expand your spirit and mind by learning more about First Nations culture or enjoy a diverse range of performances throughout the day.
Is your pooch plumped and pampered? Doggywood is the campest dog pageant around and an absolute crowd-favourite, returning to the Optus Area for a third year. Registrations will open soon so snag your pup a spot to jump the queue and they could be in the running to take out one of our esteemed categories.
Settling up camp for the first time at Mardi Gras Fair Day, Trans Camp is all about the transgender and gender diverse community. Community groups, health services, businesses and creatives all catering to the trans experience will come together ’round the fire to create a safe, inclusive space for our trans and gender diverse family.
Join multi-award winning cabaret star, Tash York for another new addition to 2024. Think BenDeLaCreme and Bette Midler vibes, all on a fabulous karaoke stage in the Optus Arena. As the sun sets, gather in the glimmer and glow of The Karaoke Cave! Pop some bottles, Jazz up the joint, and get ready to Rock out to your favourite tunes.
DRAG KING GAMES
Move over Rupaul, there’s a new drag show in town! Returning to Fair Day for 2024, find your seat at the American Express Main Stage as Sho Mawood passes crown onto a new King. Complete with weight lifting and bingo calls, the iconic Drag King Games is guaranteed to be hotter than ever!
Please note: due to the uneven terrain of some parts of Victoria Park, this area may not be accessible to all patrons.
Sun February 18, 2024 Victoria Park. Parramatta Rd, Broadway 10am – 9pm | Free
Darlinghurst’s Oxtravaganza! A vibrant two-week Mardi Gras celebration across bars, galleries, and more. Expect a fringe festival packed with Drag Shows, Cabaret, art exhibitions, and lively events. Don’t miss the Darlo Big Drag Brunch on February 24, featuring Shop till you Drop and family-friendly activities like drag story time and arts & crafts.
16 February – 3 March, 2024 Streets of Darlinghurst 10am – 12pm | Free
Festival First Light
If you have travelled to Sydney to experience all that Mardi Gras has to offer, from start to finish, then the Festival First Light is a must on that list. As the sun rises on the first day of the 2024 Sydney Mardi Gras, Rainbow Elders from Gadigal, Bidjigal and Birrabirragal Land will conduct five simultaneous Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies. Here is where we welcome our family and allies to one of the biggest LGBTQIA+ Pride celebrations in the world. Here is where Sydney and Australian Pride shines bright.
When: 16 February, 2024. 6:00am-7:15am Locations: Bondi Beach, Taylor Square, Victoria Park, Hordern Pavillion & Sydney Town Hall
Progress Pride Flag Raising
An event that is fairly self-explanatory, put this on the list as the event that officially kicks off the Mardi Gras Festival. Join our community at midday on the first day of the Festival at Sydney Town Hall as they raise the Progress Pride Flag. Here it will fly high and proud from 16 February to 3 March.
When: 16 February, 2024. 12:00pm Location: Sydney Town Hall
Sunrise Service of Reflection
Another event to add to the list of spiritual and emotional experiences that reflect on the struggle and resilience of our community. As the sun rises on the second week of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the Marks Park Dawn Sunrise Service of Reflection takes place. Set to the backdrop of the Rise Memorial, a site dedicated to the victims and survivors of targeted homophobic and transphobic violence from the 1970s to the 1990s in Sydney and NSW. At this monument to the suffering, perseverance and bravery of our queer and trans elders, we celebrate how far we have come and we reflect on our commitment to removing bigotry and prejudice from our world.
When: 24 February, 2024. 6:15am – 7:00am Location: Rise Memorial, Marks Park, Tamarama
A Mardi Gras event truly like no other, the Zoo Walk with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a wholesome way to celebrate Mardi Gras and see one of the city’s favourite spots, Taronga Zoo. Perfect for those visiting from overseas, as it gives you a quintessential Sydney day out – but GAYER! The adventure starts before you even reach the zoo, with a short ferry ride across the Sydney Harbour to the backdrop of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge – the ideal spot for an Insta selfie. Once you arrive at Taronga Zoo, you will be met with Zoo Guides and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who will take you on a tour of the famous zoo. Roos, and koalas and dingos, oh my! are just some of the native animals you’ll get to see, among hundreds of other enchanting animals from all over the world. The tour ends by midday, where it wraps up with the Australian Bird Show, and even better, you can choose to stay after it ends and join the Sisters for lunch! Please note that while the tour is free, attendees still need to pay to enter the Zoo.
Who Are the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence? They are a queer charitable, protest and performance arts group which started in San Francisco, 1979. Utilising drag and religious imagery to satirize the particularly harmful and homophobic beliefs of Christian Church.
When: 29 February, 2024. 9:00am – 12:00am Location: Taronga Zoo, via Ferry from Circular Quay
Queer Art After Hours
A vibrant celebration at the Art Gallery of New South Wales where LGBTQIA+ artists, performers, and storytellers illuminate the campus with their creativity and unique experiences. Join us for an evening filled with diverse art pieces and colorful expressions, transforming the gallery into a monument of queer culture.
Wed February 28, 2024 Art Gallery of New South Wales 5pm – 10pm | Free
For more information about events during the festival go to www.mardigras.org.au
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