Thousands of people have begun to gather in Sydney‘s CBD to take to the streets and celebrate Mardi Gras.
Revellers wrapped in rainbows and sparkling in sequins will make a pilgrimage to the queer community’s spiritual home as the celebration returns to the streets after two years away.
On Saturday night, Sydney’s Oxford Street will be awash with glitter as it welcomes an estimated 300,000 partygoers during the crown jewel of the WorldPride program, which Australia is hosting for the first time.
The event follows a blockbuster WorldPride opening concert in the Domain on Friday night, when Kylie Minogue headlined in a performance that included a surprise cameo from her sister Dannii.
Elsewhere, Ed Sheeran, who performed at Sydney Olympic Park on Friday draped himself in a rainbow flag, which has long been a symbol of LGBTQ+ rights, and wore a T-shirt with the Aboriginal flag.
Thousands of people are beginning to gather in Sydney’s CBD to take to the streets and celebrate Mardi Gras. Two perfromers are pictured
Australia is hosting WorldPride for the first time in history, with revellers travelling from all over the world for the celebration. Revellers are seen in glitter and topless
Purring in purple! One paradegoer opted for a colourful look with black and purple bondage gear – as well as a mask and ears
Beauty Queens were also part of the parade with Miss Rainbow Princess (left) and Ms International Queer in attendance
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade will return to its heritage-listed route after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to relocate to the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2021 and 2022. One reveller opted for flamboyant ‘hello I’m gay’ shorts
Ed Sheeran, who performed at Sydney Olympic Park on Friday draped himself in a rainbow flag, which has long been a symbol of LGBTQ+ rights, and wore a T-shirt with the Aboriginal flag
The British Shape of You singer waved the Pride flag onstage to the delight of thousands of fans
The British pop sensations T-shirt had ‘SYDNEY’ emblazoned on the back in the colours of the rainbow flag
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade will return to its heritage-listed route after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to relocate to the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2021 and 2022.
More than 200 floats and 12,500 parade participants will dance through 1.7 kilometres of rainbow-lined streets in a celebration of queer identity, community and equality.
Anthony Albanese will become the first sitting prime minister to march in the parade, which he initially joined in 1983 – five years after it began as a protest for gay rights.
‘I won’t try and compete in the fashion stakes,’ he said on Saturday.
‘Pride is something that we should be proud of, that Australia is moving towards a more and more equal community where everyone is respected, no matter who they love.’
The pair opted for a Jean Paul Gautier-esq look as the paid tribute to 80s-Madonna style ‘Cone boob’ outfit
More than 200 floats and 12,500 parade participants will dance through 1.7 kilometres of rainbow-lined streets in a celebration of queer identity, community and equality. One performer is seen
Revellers carried the Aboriginal flag (left) while one partygoer opted for an all black outfit with knee high boots and short shorts (right)
Mr Albanese said when he first marched in the parade 40 years ago people were campaigning for their basic rights and there had been a long journey of reform since that era.
Transgender activist Kalypso Finbar said the parade’s return had come with a renewed sense of pride.
‘It’s almost like a resurrection,’ she said.
‘There’s a different energy in the air this year because there’s more accessibility because of that Oxford Street factor.’
For Mardi Gras veterans such as Dykes on Bikes president Emily Saunders, it feels like a homecoming.
An Ariel artist! One performer dressed as a mermaid while showing off some extreme skill riding a a unicycle
These parade goers went all out in glitter, feathers and fans
One reveller looked gorgeous in pink and nude colours with feathers
One attendee wrapped their hair up in a rainbow colours as they partied the day away
Perfection in pink! Glitter was the theme of the day as revellers covered themselves
Another attendee opted for LOVE sunglasses and cheekily placed hearts for the LGBTQ+ celebrations
Party time! Another attendee opted for white sneakers and a pink bra while opted when for practical jumpsuits
Keeping it practical for Sydney’s unpredictable weather, one reveller opted for a very sensible rainbow umbrella hat
The 2023 celebration marks 45 years since the first parade, which ended in dozens of people being arrested and charged
One person dressed as an ancient Egyptian as they strolled through Sydney’s CBD ahead of the parade
Many opted for traditional and colourful head dresses while celebrating
‘It’s our natural home, we ride motorcycles, for us, being on the street is where we belong,’ she told AAP.
The 2023 celebration marks 45 years since the first parade, which ended in dozens of people being arrested and charged.
Lance Dow, who was part of the 1978 march, says he feels ‘excited but odd’ to still be attending almost five decades later.
‘Being a ’78er, it’s incredible how far we’ve come since that night,’ he told AAP.
Mr Dow said the hundred or so marchers didn’t have a clear idea about what they were doing back then.
‘We didn’t know much about pride in those days, it was all camp. But now I feel a lot of pride.’
Hours before the start of the parade, LGBTQ+ people and allies gathered in central Sydney to celebrate
Parade goers are seen preparing ahead of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and celebrating World Pride
One parade goers opted for a crystal headpiece as they looked gorgeous before the crowds
In recognition of their historical significance, Dykes on Bikes and their gay counterparts will lead the parade alongside a First Nations float and one dedicated to the ’78ers.
This year’s event will also feature some relative newcomers such as Haka for Life, an organisation that raises awareness of men’s mental health issues.
CEO of Haka for Life Leon Ruri says their float, which will come alive with didgeridoos, corroboree and haka, will be one of the loudest of the night.
‘We’re using the medicine of culture,’ he told AAP.
‘We’ve got so many people with diverse backgrounds and people recovering from serious addictions and all those sorts of things. So to have them here on this line and expressing themselves with a smile. We’re winning.’
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade begins at 6pm AEDT on Saturday.
Glittered and ready to go! One reveller with rainbow lashes and crystals on their face is seen touching up their make-up
One group had white headdresses with fruits attached for the parade
Leather suits and bondage gear was also a popular choice among parade goers