Oxtravaganza – The Darlinghurst Fringe Festival

Oxtravaganza – The Darlinghurst Fringe Festival
Image: Oxtravaganza. Supplied

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Mardi Gras season is upon us.
One of the most uplifting parts of this time of year is the plethora of free and family-orientated events, in addition to the bigger ticketed events you pay for.

And, hands down, the best way to take advantage of these free or low-cost events is by attending Oxtravaganza – the Darlinghurst Fringe Festival. It’s this year celebrating Mardi Gras for the 8th year – so it has a fine grasp on what LGBTQIA+ families and allies love.

Running from 16th February – 3rd March 2024, it’s in the epicentre of Sydney’s gay village which, for those few weeks, becomes the exciting global focus of the world’s queer community – this year set to be even buzzier after WorldPride truly put our city’s annual pride celebration on the map for international visitors as well as locals. You’ll find events along Oxford Street’s rainbow precinct (hence the festival’s namesake!) but also across Darlinghurst and into Surry Hills and Kings Cross.

Oxtravaganza. Image: supplied

If you’ve hung up your dancing shoes for a more family-focused life, where the only thing keeping you up at 5am is your own kids, fear not! There are a host of events specifically designed for LGBTQI families like yours – and of course, the families of our gorgeous allies, too. Everyone’s welcome to events such as drag queen story time, face painting, kids’ goody bags and activities and fabulous design your own bag workshops. All free!

Or – if those dancing shoes are itching to come back out but these days, you can’t last beyond midnight, also fear not! Drag brunches are being hosted across the trifecta of rainbow suburbs, with some venues offering bottomless every day of the week.

The Oxtravaganza fringe festival has its own curator, Lorraine Lock, who promises to this year “pull out all the stops and ramp it up to a new level.”

This year, something very exciting and unique is happening: Qtopia will officially open its doors, hosting the biggest permanent centre for LGBTQI history and culture in the world. Wow! The main space is inside the converted former Darlinghurst Police Station. Qtopia will also be programming the Green Park Bandstand and the Taylor Sq sub-station and toilet block – all fascinating and in their own way beautiful heritage-listed buildings with rich significance to the community.

That’s not all in terms of being totes cultural. Get ready for art and history exhibitions, an art walk, free live performances.

“We’re also lucky to have the National Art School and the Australian Museum on our doorstep,” says Lock. “Plus a host of smaller galleries in the immediate neighbourhood. Art is a big deal and such a part of our history!”

Many shopfronts, restaurants, pubs and cafes decorate their windows for Mardi Gras which makes visiting the area an event in itself, akin to walking into a street where every household has gone all out on the Christmas lights.

Not to mention Parade Night, the glittering glamorous celebration of our LGBTQIA+ community and the rowdiest party Oxford St gets to host!

All up, there will be around 100 different events across 40 venues in Darlinghurst. Get those dates in your diary now!


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