“This is going to be an LGBTQI event the size of which has never been held in the Southern Hemisphere before,” proclaims CEO of Sydney WorldPride 2023, Kate Wickett.

Usually, WorldPride is held during Pride Month in June. In the Southern Hemisphere, we do things a bit differently. 

Going from February 17 to March 5 next year, Sydney WorldPride will exist in the same footprint as Mardi Gras.

“We are incorporating all of the fabulous Mardi Gras events that always occur. So it’s basically a mega Mardi Gras, if you will,” says Wickett.

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In addition to the regular Mardi Gras events, Wickett says, “We have over 13 additional major events. There are 90 WorldPride arts events. There’s a WorldPride sports program. There are up to 300 community events”.

Human Rights Conference Will Be The Centrepiece

The centrepiece of Sydney WorldPride will be the Human Rights Conference (March 1 – March 3).

Wickett explains that it will be similar to South by Southwest or a TEDx conference, and will feature “politicians, activists, community, corporates, all together under the one roof, where we can discuss and debate ideas, all in this in the pursuit of human rights and equality.” 

Wickett believes in the need for WorldPride to “shine a light on [inequality] around the world, as there remain“many issues facing the LGBTQI communities in Australia and worldwide.”

WorldPride At Iconic Sydney Locations

In addition to the Human Rights Conference, there will also be events happening throughout the city. 

“We’re actually closing some iconic locations,” Wickett says. We’re closing Bondi Beach and we’re also closing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where we’re having 50,000 people marched across the bridge in solidarity for our community and for human rights.”

Riley Street and Crown Street will also be closed down to vehicles and turned into “pride villages” for nine days.

For the last two days of the festival, Oxford Street will be closed down to vehicles, from Hyde Park to Taylor Square.

According to Wickett, the closed streets will have booths and market stalls, with food, drinks, and live entertainment.

There will also be pop up screens, meaning that you can watch the bigger events, such as the opening ceremony, live on the street, for free.

Creating A Sense Of A Community

Wickett says that the goal of this is to “create a sense of a community hub where people can come and meet and drink and eat and you know, watch some live music or watch some live performance and really rejuvenate that kind of Oxford Street precinct.” 

Wickett explains, “We’re working closely with the City of Sydney and we’re working closely with the business chamber here around Oxford Street, and I’m just so excited for businesses, but also the community, to come back and unite on what really is our home.”

“We’re going to be working closely with our community to really bring those pride villages to life.”

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Oxford Street is a special place for Wickett, who is the first-ever female CEO of a WorldPride.

A self-proclaimed ‘Adelaide girl’, the former drag king recalled the first time she saw Oxford Street at the age of 18. “It was my first Mardi Gras… someone said to me, you’ve got to come over and see Mardi Gras.

“The Wednesday before Mardi Gras a friend of mine jumped out of a cab in front of the Columbia on Crown and Oxford Street and I looked up that street and saw the pride flags. I saw bears, I saw dykes, I saw transgender people, I saw all sorts of different people, and it actually was extremely overwhelming for me. For the first time in my life, I felt a part of community and that was a pivotal moment in my life.”

“That’s what I felt. I found my tribe.”

WorldPride Was Founded In 2000

WorldPride started in 2000 in Rome. Since then it has been held in London, Toronto, Madrid, New York, and, most recently, Copenhagen.

In talking about the bid to host WorldPride, Wickett says, “It’s like the Olympics! You have to bid to host WorldPride and we did that back in 2019. And we were successful in winning WorldPride, which was fantastic.”

Wickett says she is most excited about “bringing a really diverse group of our community together from across the globe. So people from all backgrounds coming to celebrate and to advocate for our rights, but also to showcase our First Nations cultures to the world and showcase our beautiful city to the world.” 

For information on Sydney WorldPride 2023 and mech go to sydneyworldpride.com

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