Kylie Minogue swept into town over the weekend to preside over one of the biggest Mardi Gras Parades and parties in years.
Heavy rains on Saturday afternoon cleared just in time for the Parade’s 7.45pm start and held off for the rest of the night.
PFLAG mother and outspoken gay rights activist Shelley Argent OAM was this year’s Chief of Parade, joining more than 9100 participants and 134 floats following the Parade route to the cheers of hundreds of thousands of onlookers.
IN PICS: Mardi Gras Parade – marshalling area
The Parade’s most heavily-guarded centrepiece was the Kylie Minogue K25 float, a spectacular tribute to the singer’s career to date that stretched for more than an entire block. More than 130 dancers and a bevy of drag queens — each paying homage to one of Minogue’s iconic looks — marched up Oxford St pulling a chariot and oversized Fabergé egg-shaped floats, decorated with Swarovski crystals.
Stopping at Taylor Square, the full cast of dancers turned their attention to Minogue, watching from the Club Tropicana viewing party, and performed a tightly choreographed mass dance routine to her 2001 hit Love At First Sight.
IN PICS: Mardi Gras Parade – gallery #1
IN PICS: Mardi Gras Parade – gallery #2
“Kylie’s visit is a very special gift to Sydney this year and our K25 float was a way of returning that love back to her,” Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Michael Rolik said.
“It was just one of a myriad of amazing entrants that made this year’s Parade one of the most exhilarating we’ve ever seen.”
As the Parade drew to a close, thousands of people continued the party at Mardigrasland, the official Mardi Gras Party held at the Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park.
Selling out at 15,300 tickets, Mardigrasland offered party-goers five distinct dance spaces, from the massive floor and massive beats of the Hordern Pavilion to the intimate disco space at TGI Retro.
Revellers in the Royal Hall of Industries (RHI) were treated to shows from high-profile names, including RuPaul and Sneaky Sound System, and a surprise appearance from newly-out Magda Szubanski, who earned some of the loudest cheers of the night with an emotional speech.
IN PICS: Mardi Gras Party – The Performances
“I can’t tell you how much it means to be here with all of you beautiful people and be myself,” she told the crowd, as Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Alex Greenwich and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras chair Peter Urmson looked on.
Hitting the Mardi Gras stage for the first time in 14 years just after 2am, Minogue didn’t waste a second of her 20-minute set, packing in multiple costume changes and more than 10 of her biggest hits in medley form.
With the RHI’s capacity capped at 40 percent of the party’s ticketholders, the hall filled quickly and was closed off by midnight. Minogue’s show was also beamed live to screens outside and around the Mardigrasland precinct.
“Over the past three weeks Sydney Mardi Gras has ignited our city with an outstanding array of festival events, a world class Parade and a star-studded party that is unique to Sydney,” Urmson said.
“We should all be very proud of how brightly Sydney shines during this magical time of year.”
IN PICS: Mardi Gras Party – gallery #1
IN PICS: Mardi Gras Party – gallery #2
More than 1000 police officers patrolled the streets during the evening and arrested 13 people for drug and alcohol-related offences, down from last year’s tally of 18.
INFO: The 35th Mardi Gras Parade will take place on March 2 2013. In the meantime, the 2012 Sydney Mardi Gras Parade can be viewed at www.mardigrastv.org.au
PICTURED: Members of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras team flank guest of honour Kylie Minogue. Photo: Ann-Marie Calilhanna