Sydney Mardi Gras, Australia - 1st March 2008

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Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras

The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras showed the rest of the world what it meant to come of age as the iconic event returned for its 30th anniversary this year. The 3 week festival kicked off on Saturday 9 February with a commemorative tree planting ceremony in Centennial Park and culminated in the world famous parade along Oxford Street on Saturday 1 March. All people around the world were invited to take part in the celebrations and join the parade under the theme of ‘Brave New Worlds’. The theme encourages a reflective look at how far Mardi Gras has come over the past three decades, as well as a look to the future where we, as homosexuals, continue to strive for equality and acceptance.

Marcus Bourget, the Mardi Gras Chairman said; “Mardi Gras’ 30th anniversary is a milestone that would have looked like a distant reality to Mardi Gras founders. Thirty years on and we continue to draw motivation by looking back at the hard work and dedication of thousands of volunteers that have helped bring Mardi Gras this far and will continue to inspire us in the future.”

The 2008 arts, sports and cultural festival, infamous parade and party saw a wealth of international and national performers and visitors. Multiple Grammy, Emmy and American Music Award winner Cyndi Lauper, Grammy Award-winner, English-born, Australian-raised pop singer, songwriter and actress Olivia Newton-John. 2001 Grammy winning DJ Hex Hector and internationally acclaimed stand up comic Margaret Cho were just some of the talent headlining the 30th anniversary celebrations.

The ever-popular Fair Day was on Sunday 17 February and attracted more than 60,000 people as it does every year. For many, the ‘big gay picnic day in the park’ is the highlight of the season with its relaxed atmosphere, live entertainment and food and shopping stalls offering something for everyone. Sydney’s campest pooch paradise ‘Doggywood’ is also a popular event at Fair Day, along with ‘Kidszone’ and the funky ‘Lounge Tent’ for those who want to boogie!

Another big piece of news this year was that Harbour Party which is Sydney’s most glamorous dance event was, for the first time ever, produced by Mardi Gras themselves. The ever popular sunset party overlooking the Opera House and Harbour Bridge at Mrs Macquarie’s Point was called “Sol Y Luna” and held on Sunday 24 February.

To conclude the three week festival, the spectacular Mardi Gras Parade, watched by almost 300,000 people each year, wound its way along Sydney’s gay iconic Oxford Street wowing people from all over the world with the stunning costumes and floats. The Parade comes to a halt at Moore Park where the sold out (over 15,000 people) dance party kicked off; the official Mardi Gras Party at Fox Studios.

Brimming with social and cultural benefits, Mardi Gras has contributing to Sydney’s reputation as a global city and brings thousands of international and interstate visitors who inject more than $46 million to the New South Wales economy. Mardi Gras is a celebration of pride and diversity that delivers its messages with humour and pizzazz – the festival brings all members of the gay and lesbian community together and is loved and enjoyed by all people from across Australia and the world.

The Mardi Gras Parade…

The parade is a celebration of pride, diversity and acceptance and showcases the city of Sydney in all its colour, creativity and joy of life.

105 floats and thousands of participants danced and celebrated their way towards a “Brave New World” along Sydney’s iconic Oxford street, marking the 30th Anniversary a unique Australian tradition that’s famous around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people clug to every building and lamp post along the 1.6 kilometre route to watch the glitz and glamour that the annual Mardi Gras Parade delivers and show their support for the movement towards full equality.

The Chief of Parade is one of the most anticipated posts of the Mardi Gras Parade, with past representation from actor Rupert Everett in 2007 and opera singer Deborah Cheetham in 2006. This year, international comic sensation Margaret Cho lead the parade after wowing Australian crowds the following week with the World Premiere of her show – “Beautiful”.

Accompanying the Chief of Parade was the Sydney couple Craig Gee and Shane Brennen, who where brutally beaten in a homophobic attack last year and returned to Oxford Street for the first time. This time, a train of floats 6 kilometers long who wore their hearts on their sleeves in support of craig, shane and other victims of homophobic violence.

The stars of this years parade featured a diverse mix of Australian and international participants with floats from Tasmania, Auckland, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra and even San Francisco. For many involved, it’s the perfect opportunity to make a political point and reminisce on the years gone by; for others it’s a chance to revel in the extravagant floats and vibrant atmosphere.

For many, the excitement was their first Mardi Gras experience. Among them, 100 revs who are marching as an open apology to gays and lesbians for their treatment by Christian church, as well as the Australian Defence Force.

Key floats in this years parade also included the iconic Dykes on Bikes who kicked off the parade in their usual fanfare followed by Boys on Bikes, an ode controversial Britney Spears and Australia’s own Ben Cousins and sexy surf lifesavers flying the red and yellow flags.

Thirty years after a momentous time in the gay and lesbian history, the fight for acceptance and equality is still going. The original participants in the original Parade, affectionately called the 78er’s, were also present as the lead float in this years Parade, marching once again for greater equality as they did thirty years ago.

More info at

The Mardi Gras Party…

Four spectacular dance worlds and over 20 DJs all created an explosive end to the 30th anniversary celebrations for Mardi Gras 2008 “Brave New Worlds”. DJs flew in from across the planet, coming from New York, London, Barcelona, Berlin and Auckland to spin alongside the local Australian DJs. Mardi Gras transformed The Royal Hall of Industries at Fox Studios into a glittering “Discotarium”. Spinning universal past, present and future dance anthems, dance remix sensation Hex Hector (New York) was joined by Paul Goodyear (Barcelona). Paul now has residencies in Amsterdam, London and San Francisco and has played at Mardi Gras parties since 1991. “After playing many Mardi Gras parties and being part of the scene for the last 23 years, I can’t wait to showcase and remix some of the big Gay Icons of the last 30 years. You’ll be able to dance with Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Sylvester, George Michael, Eartha Kitt and me. Expect grand from Mizz Goodyear!” Building from its success at “Zirkus” Sleaze Ball, the Hordern Pavillion was trance-formed into “Neon Fusion” - an eruption of lasers, uplifting and vocal trance with DJ Marty flying in from Auckland to take over the decks. Marty is a regular at New Zealand’s Salvation and Hero parties and was spinning in Sydney for the first time.

For the 30th anniversary the Dome returned to its traditional tribal and animalistic roots becoming “Zootopia”. Jack Chang, sailing down from London, was joined by local-boy Mike Kelly now based in Berlin. Jack is well known on the European leather and tribal scene with residencies at Greenkomm, Love Muscle, Fist (London) and many others. Jack and Mike recently played the main floor sets for the hugely successful Hustlaball in Berlin. Mike Kelly, well known in the Sydney local scene, has also built an impressive residency list in Europe, including Greenkomm in Cologne, Naughty in Brussels and Insatiable in Madrid.


 Recommended Sydney web sites:

Sydney Mardi Gras

SX News

Sydney Star Observer

Australian Gay Guide

Sydney Gay Map

Toy Box Party

RezErection Party

Midnight Shift


Arq Nightclub


Sydney City Steam

KingSteam Sauna

Bodyline Sauna

See Sydney

HeadQuarters bar


ManAcle bar

Sydney Marriott Hotel


Gay Ski Week NZ


Other Sydney reviews: 

Mardi Gras 2006

New Year 2006

Mardi Gras 2005

Gay Games 2002

Mardi Gras 2002