New directions, old favourites and a host of international and local stars will be key elements of next year’s Mardi Gras festival, as New Mardi Gras seeks to build its profile and increase community interest with the month-long event.

At the festival guide launch at Slide yesterday, organisers revealed a significant shake-up for the 2007 season Launch and a wider choice of festival events, including expanded offerings for young people.

The 29th season will also see the return of the Mardi Gras Pool Party, a traditionally popular event that has not been staged in recent years.

The festival will be themed Objects of Love as New Mardi Gras attempts to gain broader interest in the season beginning in early February.

We’re branching out. We’ve taken a conscious decision to start producing more of our own events or reinvent our existing events, New Mardi Gras chair Marcus Bourget told attendees at the guide’s launch yesterday.

We’re making a determined effort to spread our wings, to reach new audiences and to start making plans for our 30th anniversary in 2008.

In a departure from the Launch parties of previous years, the festival will open with a free Flash Mob Launch, due to be held in early February.

The term Flash Mob usually describes public gatherings organised online or by mobile phone.

New Mardi Gras will reveal clues by text message about its Flash Mob event throughout January. Final details, including the venue, will be revealed on the day of the event.

The new direction follows widespread criticism of this year’s Launch at the Sydney Opera House, which was hampered by technical problems and inefficient bar service.

We reviewed the season as a whole after last year -¦ and we listened to all the feedback, Bourget told Sydney Star Observer.

It’s an evolution of Mardi Gras. We don’t want to keep doing the same things because that’s what we’ve always done.

New Mardi Gras will also stage a red-carpet event at the Museum of Contemporary Art to attract those active members of our community who perhaps aren’t really partygoers, Bourget said.

The 2 February event will be a really high-quality, classy evening of Mardi Gras entertainment featuring performances and more.

Other highlights of the festival program include film star Rupert Everett in conversation with Sydney identities Bob Downe and Mitzi Macintosh at the Seymour Centre.

The festival will also highlight homegrown talent, including the return season of hit play Holding The Man, musical Hedwig And The Angry Inch and a series of cabaret shows, sports and other community events.

An expanded youth program will include DJ classes, a Generation Youth festival and the Star‘s Shoot Mardi Gras program that nurtures a young photographer.

Regular favourite the Mardi Gras Film Festival will open with the long-running My Queer Career competition on 15 February.

My Queer Career judges, producer Helen Bowden, film executive Ashley Luke and television personalities Margaret Pomeranz and Anton Enus chose the 10 finalists this week.

Fair Day will be on 18 February in Victoria Park. The Pool Party will be at the same venue on 24 February. The 2007 season will close with the flagship parade and party on 3 March.

The 2007 festival guide is released this week. Event details will also be available at the New Mardi Gras website.

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