Wellington turned on the sun on Saturday to welcome more than 1300 athletes from around the globe.

The annual Out In The Square festival (think Midsumma Carnival and Mardi Gras Fair Day) took over the city’s Civic Square in a wave of colour, movement and community.

Under the guidance of emcees Steven Oates and Lady Trenise (pictured), the day went off without a hitch – not a heel, nor an eyelash, were out of place!

Drag was the winner on the day; a win that was heralded by Rhubarb Rouge’s mass flashmob performance of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. Subsequent performers Buckwheat and Tess Tickle summoned Bonnie Tyler for a super performance of “I Need A Hero” and Nikita Van Der Kamp’s upbeat closing song kept the beat thumping and the crowd pumping all day.

The wow factor of the day went to two performances later in the afternoon. The first was the breathtaking Amanda LaWhore, who blew the crowd away with a Grace Jones medley that will whet the appetites of those who missed their chance to see the woman herself at the recently cancelled Grassroots festival. Amanda stripped from a full costume with dread-esque wig to bald head, bare head and taped nipples during her performance, which culminated in diva hit “Pull up to my Bumper”.

Rosita Vai – a former New Zealand Idol winner – positively stole the show with her renditions of “The Best of my Love”, Beyonce’s “Listen” and Dreamgirls hit “Love You, I Do”, as well as an original.

The community was also out in force, with thousands visiting stalls run by School’s Out, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, ANZ Bank, Out Takes and even us, express! With a range of wares on sale – including a fantastic array of rainbow everything – a good day was had by everyone… even those stuck behind tables all day!

Out in the Square has been held in Civic Square for four years now, but none such a coup as this year, when every Outgames competitor converged on the square for the beginning of the opening procession.

Australians were clearly in force, with competitors from every state and territory at the front of the parade.

But the biggest cheer was saved for the New Zealand team, many of whom had forgone official uniforms in favour of I Love Christchurch t-shirts, which can be seen an many people around the city.

Competition kicked off on Saturday with the triathlon. Mountain biking, dance sport running, bridge and soccer are the key events on Sunday.

– with Hanna Jennings Voykovich, The Express

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