The 2004 Mardi Gras season kicks off this Friday 6 February in Hyde Park from 5:30pm, with organisers hoping to attract 10,000 visitors.

Performers for the night include Bette Midler impersonator Belinda Lemon, Irish cabaret singer Enda Markey, the cast of the New Theatre production of Falsettos and DJs Jason Leahy and Paul Goodyear. Aunty Mavis and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will provide roving entertainment (and perhaps harassment) throughout the night.

A range of bars and food outlets will also be open for the launch, which is a licensed event.
The launch marks the beginning of the festival and a four-week countdown until the parade and party, although a number of vital deadlines are looming for hopeful participants.

The closing date for entries to this year’s parade is this Monday 9 February and most urgently, applications close tomorrow Friday 6 February for stalls in the fair day. Application forms for fair day and the parade are available online at www.mardigras.org.au
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Co-convenor of New Mardi Gras Michael Woodhouse told Sydney Star Observer the festival was running according to schedule, but volunteers were still needed for a variety of tasks. It takes about 1,500 people to staff the parade on the night, Woodhouse said. We need people to lend a hand as marshals or medical volunteers, as well as people to help in areas such as the workshop.

Willing participants with a more performative bent are also invited to attend a registration day this Saturday 7 February for a chance to join the official New Mardi Gras Marching Group. Registration takes place at the Stonewall Hotel Cocktail Lounge from 2pm to 3:30pm and for more information call 9568 8600 or email David Noonan at parade@mardigras.org.au.
While spirits and expectations are high for tomorrow night’s launch of the Mardi Gras festival, four events have been withdrawn from the festival program.
For various reasons, the Pride Coming Out Ball, the Queer Valentine Race Day, the Jenny Morris concert and the Luncheon Club fundraiser A Wild Night At Arq have either been cancelled or postponed.

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