THE Mardi Gras weekend is finally upon us and there is so much to do — and there are also lots of surprises in store.

Saturday’s Parade is one of the world’s largest and most iconic LGBTI celebrations. It is a chance for all of the colours of the kaleidoscope to come together, to commemorate, celebrate, and communicate the universal message of diversity, equality, and the right to love whom our hearts desire.

The Parade has come a long way since 1978, when members of the community first took to the streets wearing costumes and carrying placards calling for rights and acceptance on the anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall riots.

It is now a time to remember where we have been, reflect on what more needs to be done and most importantly, take pride in who we are both as individuals and members of the LGBTI community and beyond.

Arrive early to avoid disappointment before hundreds of thousands of spectators line the route — from the start of Oxford St at Darlinghurst down to Flinders St — to watch people march with pride in an explosion of creative and political expression, lavish floats and costumes, and satirical statements. (Scroll down for the the Parade map)

This year, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras have entered a game-changing float inspired by Baz Lurhman’s classic movie Strictly Ballroom in the biggest float ever — 4.2m wide and nine metres long. It is also packed with 98 dancers and some of Sydney’s best drag artists.

The Pollys, Australia’s largest and oldest gay and lesbian social group, have also been selected as the Chief of Parade this year – in honour of the group’s 50th anniversary in 2014.

This show-stopping street spectacular will be on the back of a luxury cruise liner entering Sydney Harbour at 7am that same day, with a four-metre high stiletto inspired by Australia’s favourite queen of the desert all under the watchful eye of drag star Vanity Fare. Destination NSW has organised for giant rainbow flags on the docks wishing happy Mardi Gras and spectators are advised to be there before 7am.

After the Parade, head to the one and only official Mardi Gras Party at Moore Park.

Australian favourites Tina Arena, Courtney Act and Samantha Jade will rock the crowd with live performances, along with international stars Jodie Harsh, Derrick Carter, Kim Ann Foxman, Leomeo, and a plethora of Australian DJs.

And the celebrations don’t stop there.

On Sunday afternoon, the iconic Laneway party returns to Darlinghurst’s Hill St Laneway and the Beresford and Flinders hotels to help close the weekend in style.

(image credit: Ann-Marie Calilhanna)

DETAILS:  mardigras.org.au 

 

2014 Parade map

 

2014 Mardi Gras party map

 

 

 

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