The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade will not march along Oxford Street for the second year in a row. The organisers announced on Thursday that the parade will once again be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 5, 2022.

Despite promising that the move to the SCG for the 2021 edition of Mardi Gras was a “one-year reaction to COVID”, the organisers said that they have decided to stick to the venue for the 2022 edition as well.

The organisers said that the uncertainty over possible COVID-19 restrictions next year was to blame for the decision to cancel the street parade along Oxford Street.

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They claimed that the Mardi Gras at SCG was the best chance for the event to proceed regardless of the COVID situation early next year. The organsiers assured that the 45th Mardi Gras, which is also when Sydney will host World Pride, will return to Oxford Street in 2023. 

Uncertainty Over COVID-19 Situation In 2022

Albert Kruger, CEO, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Image: Supplied

“There’s still a great uncertainty of what March is going to look like for us all. Despite some restrictions starting to ease, there’s a question mark on whether there will be future lockdowns after the 80% vaccine target has been met, and this could impact how safe it’s going to be to have a street-side Parade,” Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger said in a press release. 

The traditional Mardi Gras Parade on Oxford Street usually attracts around 250,000 spectators. According to the organisers it was likely that next year major events would have requirements like physical distancing, spectator vaccinations, allocated seating and contact tracing.

The SCG, the organisers said, had the infrastructure to manage the requirements, while also allowing  “room to scale the Parade up or down to ensure it takes place within government restrictions in the case that Sydney does experience further lockdowns”.

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“What we do know is that we can stage an incredible and safe Parade in the Sydney Cricket Ground. Right now, when decisions need to be made, the Sydney Cricket Ground is the best option for us to guarantee that we can come together to keep the spirit of Mardi Gras’ history of protest and celebration shining bright in 2022,” Kruger said in the statement.

A Prudent Decision, Says Clover Moore

clover moore

Clover Moore at the Mardi Gras flag-raising. Photo by Ann-Marie Calilhanna.

City of Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said Mardi Gras’ decision to lock in the 2022 venue was “prudent” one.

Mardi Gras‘ decision to return to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the 2022 Mardi Gras Parade is prudent given the uncertainty posed by the pandemic, which we will continue to face for some time yet,” said Moore.

“I am sure that the 2022 event will build on the success of this year’s spectacular parade. And I look forward to it being a successful curtain raiser to World Pride in 2023, when I hope we can all return to celebrate on Oxford Street with Sydneysiders and visitors from around Australia and the world,” added Moore.

Impact On Oxford Street

78ers, who took part in the first Mardi Gras in 1978, at the 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. Photo: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

In November 2020, Kruger had told Star Observer that the decision to host the 2021 parade at the SCG instead of Oxford street was 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,”  Kruger had said and insisted that Mardi Gras would not permanently move away from the parade on Oxford street. “That will never happen”.

Moore had in December 2020 also proposed closing Oxford Street to traffic on the night of Mardi Gras to ensure safety as people make way from the SCG after the parade.

This year, though the Mardi Gras parade was not held on Oxford Street, another collective, Pride In Protest, did march through Australia’s iconic gaybourhood.  Around 3000 people participated in Pride in Protest’s  Mardi Gras March on Oxford Street, hours before the official parade at the SCG on March 6, 2021.

The decision to once again shift the parade to the SCG is likely to have an impact on the festivities on Oxford Street and consequently affect many of the struggling LGBTQI businesses in the neighbourhood.

United We Shine

The theme for Mardi Gras 2022 is “United we shine”. 

“Our theme this year is a reminder of all that we can achieve when our communities rise as one. It is a call to stand united against the inequalities LGBTQI+ people continue to face, and empowers us with the strength that our history shows: that we have the power to create a more equitable society,” Kruger said in the press release.

From February 18, 2022 to March 6, 2022, the world-famous festival will feature a program with various events spanning theatre, visual arts, parties, community gatherings and panel discussion.

Tickets for Mardi Gras 2022 go on sale Monday, November 15, 2022.

 

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