Mardi Gras has announced that in 2021, the parade will look a bit different to usual. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade will be one of the first internationally significant events to occur in Australia since COVID-19 began to spread and lockdown restrictions were put in place.

It has been announced that the 2021 Mardi Gras Parade will be held on Saturday March 6 2021, at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) where the audience capacity will be 23,000. The parade will also be broadcast live on SBS.

Many events in the arts and cultural sector have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions put in place around the world this year. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was one of the last large-scale events held in Australia prior to lockdown restrictions being instated in New South Wales and Australia-wide.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore acknowledged this in a press release from Mardi Gras, stating that “I know many in our community, myself included, have held onto our happy memories of Mardi Gras 2020 to get us through this challenging year.”

 In an interview with Star Observer, Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger stated that the decision to host the parade at the SCG instead of Oxford street is a “one-year reaction to COVID. This is not a permanent installation. This is us being able to host something special in a COVID-environment.” Mr Kruger followed this by assuring that Mardi Gras will not permanently move away from the parade on Oxford street. “That will never happen” he stated.

In addition to restrictions being placed on the number of people allowed as spectators in the SCG, groups participating in the parade will also be placed under restrictions. Mr Kruger stated that there will be a limit of forty marchers per group participating in the parade, who will all undergo the same process for selection.

The theme for the 2021 Mardi Gras Parade is “RISE”, which Mr Kruger stated is all about “our community rising together and standing up together after a really tough 2020”. It is about, he went on to say, the LGBTQ+ community “saying together we rise”.

Speaking to Star Observer, Mr Kruger also identified Mardi Gras’ new ‘Always On’ initiative as a significant factor in the decision to hold the 2021 parade at the SCG. “Mardi Gras can’t not take place”, Mr Kruger stated, “we’ve worked really,really hard to bring our community together within these restrictions. Mardi Gras is the first arts and cultural organisation to receive a preliminary exception from NSW Health.”

The ‘Always On’ strategy will ensure that Mardi Gras will be present in an ongoing capacity throughout the year, Mr Kruger informed Star Observer.

Tickets on sale Nov 9 for the 2021 Mardi Gras Parade.

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