If you’re yet to get involved, make sure you do one of these top Mardi Gras must-dos. Visit mardigras.org.au for the full programme of events.
Mardi Gras Film Festival
When February 19-March 5
From ballerinas to roller derby players, rodeo cowboys to surf lifesavers, the 22nd Mardi Gras Film Festival will deliver the best in LGBTQI cinema.
Queer Screen is taking over Sydney’s Event Cinemas George Street with a wide-ranging medley of classic and contemporary queer films hailing from Australia and countries as far-reaching as Philippines, Kenya, and even the very first queer feature film from Sri Lanka.
There will even be a screening for kids, with a Disney princess film of a different kind, a Frozen sing-a-long riddled with pro-gay subtext teaching the empowering lesson to ‘let it go!’ and feel proud in your own skin.
While you’re not watching films, hang out at the event’s pop-up bar with top dance and electro acts, including Cunningpants and the Heaps Gay DJ, spinning the tunes from 6pm until late.
Tickets: $19 for standard tickets; Feb 19-Mar 5, times vary; Event Cinemas, 505-525 George Street.
Disco Bridge Climb
When February 25-March 1
We’ve all had a drunken karaoke sing-song and dance off, but have you ever done it on the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge? We’re guessing no, unless it happened that night you got really wasted and woke up on the North Shore… Best lay off the grog this time though, as you don’t want to be seeing double as you climb to the top of the iconic structure. Once at the top, you can belt out some disco tunes under a disco ball, and it will all be recorded on tape… did we lose you there? Come on, you don’t have to show it to anyone!
Tickets: From $218; Feb 25-March 1, 6am-8pm; Sydney Harbour Bridge
When February 28
The 2015 Sydney Harbour party is the hottest event on the Mardi Gras calendar (and we don’t just mean temperature-wise). Attracting thousands of party-goers from around the world, the Harbour Party is set up at the Botanic Gardens, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House as fabulous backdrops for the day’s festivities. This year’s special guests include singer of ‘Hideaway’ Kiesza, Bimbo Jones fronted by Lee Dagger, Kitty Glitter, Dan Murphy and Du Jour. Picture minimal clothing, beautiful tans, sunnies and that just-got-out-of-bed-but-secretly-it-took-two-hours-to-look-this-way look. When the sun goes down, the real party starts heating up, so make sure you check out the view (and the landscape too).
Tickets: $139; Saturday Feb 28, 3pm-11pm; Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Harbour
When March 3
What’s a cruise around Sydney Harbour without a drag act, we say? Step aboard the MV Sydney Glass Island, which, as the name suggests, has floor-to-ceiling windows so you can take in sweeping views of the city, and sip on champagne and nibble on canapés as the sun sets. Once the night has arrived, head downstairs for a musical drag act with host, Summer Salt, keeping the gags coming all night, so to speak.
Tickets: $49, or $60 on the door; March 3, 6pm-10pm; Man’o’War Warf, Sydney Opera House
Panti Bliss on life after ‘Pantigate’
When March 4 & 5
Ireland’s ‘accidental activist’ Panti Bliss is headed to Sydney to perform her smash hit comedy show, ‘High Heels in Low Places’ at The Vanguard. Panti landed in the middle of a media shit storm christened ‘Pantigate’ that rocked Ireland in 2014. Soon after, she became a Youtube sensation when a speech she made about homophobia went viral, was debated in parliament and remixed by the Pet Shop Boys.
‘High Heels in Low Places’ is Panti’s riotous stand-up about life after ‘Pantigate’, which has played to rave reviews and chock-a-block houses across Ireland. Panti tells us, “I can’t wait to bring my old lady glamour to Sydney for Mardi Gras and make a fool of myself over some cheeky Aussie bloke I meet at a barbie. That has been my lifelong dream!” When she’s not sucking face by the barbie, look out for her on the Irish Australian float at the parade.
Tickets: $32.80 general admission, packages available; March 4-5, 6.30pm for 9pm show
When March 7
Glitter litters the street, feather boas hang off every limb and sequins sparkle in the night light as the parade entices and excites thousands of onlookers. Originally established in 1978 as a protest march, the parade has become the main attraction for Mardi Gras activities and more importantly, a celebration of diversity. The parade collects hundreds of queer groups from around Australia – totalling more than 10,000 people – and shoves them into one fabulous three-hour show-stopping spectacular. You’ll want to get there early to grab yourself a good vantage point along Oxford Street or Flinders Street. There are few parties like this around the world so you won’t want to miss out on what’s guaranteed to be a suitably fabulous night.
Free; Saturday March 7, 7.30pm-10.30pm; Oxford Street
Mardi Gras Party
When March 7
After watching the parade, you’re sure to be pepped up for a party, so you should head to the not-very-catchy-but-does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Playbill Venues and Entertainment Quarter. Here you will find DJs keeping the party going until 8am – yep, you read that right – across various venues, with more than 15,000 revellers getting together for one hell of a party. Line up announced so far includes Adam Love, Dan Murphy, DJ grind, Kitty Glitter, Paul Mac and special guests, YO! MAFIA and more.
Tickets: $139.16+; Saturday March 7, 10pm-8am; Playbill Venues and Entertainment Quarter, 122 Lang Road, Moore Park