The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has announced its festival program for the coming year.

Highlights of the festival will include queer favourites Trevor Ashley, Casey Donovan, and Courtney Act, among many others.

Next year marks the historic 40th anniversary of the Mardi Gras. To celebrate this milestone, the festival program is bigger, better, and more fabulous than ever, reflecting on four decades of amazing evolution, momentous achievements and extraordinary individuals.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival kicks off on Friday 16 February with 17 sparkling days of parties, performance, exhibitions, family and community events, culminating with the iconic Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday 3 March.

In this special anniversary year, the festival focuses on the theme ’40 Years of Evolution’.

40 years on from the original 1978 street festival turned protest, the program and parade have been carefully curated to reflect and celebrate four decades of love, protest, diversity, acceptance, activism, pride, family, passion, creativity, drama and satire.

“This Festival we celebrate all the amazing activists and leaders, including our 78ers, who have fought tirelessly for our rights over the last four decades,” said Mardi Gras Arts CEO Terese Casu.

“We also invite and welcome new friends to join the festivities to celebrate 40 years of fabulousness.

“Mardi Gras is for everyone and this year you will see new spaces and events for more of our community and families to enjoy and share—from our Museum of Love and Protest exhibition at the National Art School Gallery, and the inaugural Sissy Ball at Carriageworks, to our fabulous Family Fun Day at Luna Park and an exciting performing arts program at the Seymour Centre.”

Mardi Gras creative director Greg Clarke said, “The opening weekend of the celebrations features Trevor Ashley’s Mardi Gala at the Sydney Opera House and the wonderful Fair Day back at Victoria Park. Other special events not to be missed include Queer Thinking and Koori Gras at Carriageworks, Queer Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW and the Pool Party.”

“The 40th anniversary parade looks set to be the best yet, with a sparkling procession of hundreds of jaw-dropping floats and 12,000 revellers will dance till dawn at the Mardi Gras Party, Australia’s biggest LGBTQI party of the year.”

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said, “The NSW Government is proud to support the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. It’s a key moment of Australia’s annual cultural calendar and the plans for the 40th anniversary are making 2018 look no different.”

The City of Sydney is the proud government partner of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2018.

“This is a major milestone in the history of one of Sydney’s most important events, one that represents our city at its best—diverse, open, creative and irreverent,” said Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

“From the first march in 1978 to being one of the world’s great LGBTI festivals, the history of Mardi Gras is the history of the community’s long path to equality. We are proud to be a long term supporter of Mardi Gras and of the great welcome Sydney gives to visitors from all over the world.”

Tickets for festival events are on sale now.

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