Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney Mardi Gras is anything but your average Mardi Gras celebration. This annual two-week festival celebrates gay and lesbian culture, and since it is community based, any and all patrons are welcome. A certain amount of awareness is recommended if you want to enjoy the Mardis Gras Parade in Sydney, however (as in, this isn't the best family event), as you can expect to see your fair share of drag queens and slightly-clad float riders. Capping things off is a dance party celebration that always sells out, and if you want to enjoy it, you'll most likely have to purchase your tickets at least one month in advance. You might book your hotel stay in advance while you're at it, as rooms can fill up fast.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras got its start in the late 1970s and was originally a response of sorts to gay prejudice. Homosexuality was actually a crime in New South Wales Australia up until 1984, so early participants faced a fair amount of risk. In fact, many were arrested during the first installments. These days, the Sydney Mardi Gras has a much wider acceptance, and you might be interested to know that it figures among Australia's main tourist draws. That's not to say that it doesn't entirely avoid opposition. The city of Sydney has few complaints, as the festival brings in tens of millions of dollars on an annual basis.

In the past, the Sydney Mardi Gras was launched at the Sydney Opera House. Recently, however, Fair Day has kicked things off. Fair Day is an event all its own, attracting tens of thousands of people to Victoria Park. Essentially a music festival, Fair Day offers plenty of fun entertainment. The annual Pool Party is another Sydney Mardi Gras highlight. This party is both a day and night party, and DJs are in place to keep things going throughout. Of course, the Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney is the main highlight. It takes place in late February or early March and is quite the extravaganza. Extraordinary is a word that could be used to describe the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, and while it has a largely sexual edge, it also has political purposes. Oxford Street and Flinders Street are among the main avenues for the Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney, and along with some of the roads around Hyde Park, they close to traffic while the procession is under way.

If you enjoy nightlife action and you are planning on being in Sydney when the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is coming to a close, you might try to secure tickets for the festival's final night party. This party employs a few different venues, and these venues host massive dance parties and other fun events that last long into the night. Big name stars are often in attendance at the final night party, and this is part of the reason why the tickets sell out quickly. Whether you want to enjoy just the final night party or all of the Sydney Mardi Gras festivities, there are vacation packages out there that can help you make it happen.

Image: Hamilton Lund; Tourism NSW

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