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40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2018


2018 marks the historic 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. To celebrate this milestone, the Festival program is bigger, better and more fabulous than ever as it reflects on four decades of amazing evolution, momentous achievements and extraordinary individuals.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival kicks off on Friday 16 February 2018 with seventeen sparkling days, jam-packed with parties, performance, exhibitions, family and community events that culminate with the iconic Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday 3 March 2018.

In this special anniversary year, the 2018 Festival focuses on the theme ‘40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION’.  40 years on from the original 1978 street Festival turned protest, the program and parade have been carefully curated to reflect and celebrate four decades of love, protest, diversity, acceptance, activism, pride, family, passion, creativity, drama and satire.

Mardi Gras Arts CEO, Terese Casu announced “This Festival we celebrate all the amazing activists and leaders, including our 78ers, who have fought tirelessly for our rights over the last four decades. We also invite and welcome new friends to join the festivities to celebrate 40 years of fabulousness.”

“Mardi Gras is for everyone and this year you will see new spaces and events for more of our community and families to enjoy and share – from our Museum of Love & Protest exhibition at the National Art School Gallery, the inaugural SISSY BALL at Carriageworks to our fabulous Family Fun Daat Luna Park and an exciting performing arts program at the Seymour Centre” said Casu.

Mardi Gras Creative Director, Greg Clarke said, “The opening weekend of the celebrations features Trevor Ashley’s Mardi Gala at the Sydney Opera House and the wonderful Fair Day back at Victoria Park. Other special events not to be missed include Queer Thinking and Koori Gras at Carriageworks, Queer Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW and the Pool Party.

“The 40th anniversary Parade looks set to be the best yet, with a sparkling procession of hundreds of jaw-dropping floats and 12,000 revellers will dance till dawn at the Mardi Gras Party, Australia’s biggest LGBTQI party of the yearadded Clarke.

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said “The NSW Government is proud to support the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. It’s a key moment of Australia’s annual cultural calendar and the plans for the 40th anniversary are making 2018 look no different.” 

City of Sydney is the proud government partner of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2018, providing funding for this commemorative anniversary season. Commenting on Mardi Gras’ cultural significance, Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore stated “This is a major milestone in the history of one of Sydney’s most important events, one that represents our city at its best – diverse, open, creative and irreverent. 

“From the first march in 1978 to being one of the world’s great LGBTIQ festivals, the history of Mardi Gras is the history of the community’s long path to equality. We are proud to be a long term supporter of Mardi Gras and of the great welcome Sydney gives to visitors from all over the world.”

Tickets for this superbly curated program, bursting with bravado, cabaret, passion and personality go on sale 10am AEDT, Friday 03 November 2017 at


Museum of Love & Protest
Presented in association with the National Art School, the Museum of Love & Protest is the signature event for the 40th anniversary celebrations. This immersive exhibition brings together original costumes, photographs, rarely seen film and video footage, iconic posters, storytelling, music and artefacts. The Museum’s theatrical design combines visual spectacle and moments of intimacy for visitors to discover the extraordinary stories, artists, communities and images of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The Museum is open Friday 16 February – Sunday 4 March.

On Friday and Saturday evenings at 6pm the Museum of Love & Protest really comes alive as fabulous Mardi Gras identities entertain you with their unique spin on Mardi Gras history. You’ll also be able to enjoy a drink or two at the Mardi Gras Bar of Love & Protest.

Rainbow families with children aged 6+ will be able to express themselves at family workshops on Saturday 17 February.

Trevor Ashley’s Mardi Gala
Wear your best black-tie or outrageous outfit and get ready for a variety gala that is part concert, part chat show but ALL fun! Together with a 14-piece orchestra, the Mardi Gras season will kick off right with a night of laughs, music and fabulosity, celebrating the vibrant forty years of Mardi Gras. After his sell-out concert last year with Diamonds Are For Trevor, Trevor Ashley will be joined by the incredible showman Todd McKenney, uber-diva Paul Capsis, pop-queen and jungle-queen Casey Donovan, the crown prince of comedy Joel Creasey and the legend herself, Carlotta. Trevor Ashley’s Mardi Gala will wow audiences at the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House on Saturday 17 February.

Fair Day
Festival favourite Fair Day returns on Sunday 18 February, returning to the rolling lawns of Victoria Park. From amazing performances on the ANZ Main Stage, community stalls, yummy food, Sports Village and the world famous Doggywood competition, Fair Day is a free event and the perfect carnival of rainbow festivities for the whole family. Fair Day is proudly presented in partnership with ANZ.

Mardi Gras at Seymour Centre
The Seymour Centre becomes a Festival hub featuring a new look performance program of theatre, cabaret, play readings and live music.  Highlights include a new production of the contemporary Australian classic Strangers in Between by Tommy Murphy starring Simon Burke, the return to Australia of Sydney drag legend Mitzie Macintosh in her first ever one-woman show and Playlist a day of play readings by LGBTQI writers.

Koori Gras
Koori Gras, produced by Moogahlin Performing Arts, is back after a fabulous first outing in 2017. Embracing international perspectives on First Peoples queer performance and communities, this year see Koori Gras moves to the Mardi Gras hub at Carriageworks from Monday 19 – Saturday 24 February featuring community forums, workshops, panels and cabaret. Not to be missed is Black Nulla Cabaret on Saturday 24 February, a night of queer First Peoples performances by leading local, national and international drag artists, DJs and special guests.

Queer Thinking
On Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February leading thinkers and thought provocateurs will converge on Carriageworks for two days of illuminating ideas, discussion and debate. With a focus on social justice, Queer Thinking in 2018 will look back over the 40 years of Mardi Gras, from its early revolutionary beginnings through to its evolution to becoming one of the leading LGBTQI celebrations. 78er Julie McCrossin will be in discussion about far we’ve come and what fights are still left to fight.

Trans Stories 40 Years, co-presented with Trans Sydney Pride, is a special Queer Thinking evening event on Saturday 24 February bringing together a diverse range of trans people to share their stories of survival, resilience and finding happiness in their authentic selves.  

Luna Park Family Fun Day
On Saturday 24 February Luna Park will go rainbow for this fun and fabulous party for kids and their LGBTQI families and friends. All the fun of the fair - featuring unlimited rides, the wildest kids’ dance party in the Crystal Palace and surprise performances by Sydney’s favourite drag queens. This will be a special fun-filled treat for kids of all ages and an awesome action-packed day for the whole family. Luna Park Family Day is presented in partnership with Medibank, and supported by IVFAustralia.

For one night only, clubbers will be transported to a Vogue dancefloor born from the living history of New York’s underground Ballroom scene. Expressions of identity become the focal point as bodies collide in the ultimate throwdown of style, precision, and attitude, in a showcase set to transfix. In true Vogue style, extravagance on the runway will be matched with a soundtrack that weaves through disco, house, bounce, pop, performance and much more. Curated by local interdisciplinary artist and club icon Bhenji Ra, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Red Bull Music’s Sissy Ball is sure to be a festival highlight. Full line-up to be announced soon.

Pool Party
Set among gently swaying palm trees and uniting a cast of outrageous friends and beautiful strangers, Mardi Gras’ Pool Party transforms the Ivy Pool Club into a sexy and intimate playground, where you can frolic in style as handsome lifeguards survey the stunning scene. Delicious cocktails, cabana lounges, cool local DJs and Speedos galore, Pool Party, held on Monday 26 February, is the perfect way to make a splash this Mardi Gras season.

Queer Art After Hours
Queer Art After Hours returns in 2018 after last year’s hugely successful inaugural event. On Wednesday 28 February the Art Gallery of New South Wales will go queer, featuring a star-studded shimmering line-up of queer performances, fabulous DJs, live music, gallery tours and delicious drinks. Set against the charming backdrop of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queer Art After Hours coincides with the exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: the perfect medium.

With 40 incredible years of passion, pride and protest, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade has grown into a bustling extravaganza that brings Sydney to a standstill, and shines a light on the issues affecting LGBTQI people around the world. The 40th anniversary Parade on Saturday 3 March looks set to be the biggest and most exciting yet, with a sparkling procession of over 200 groups and jaw-dropping floats showcasing the best the community has to offer. Dykes on Bikes, outrageous drag queens, community heroes and talented queer performers will join many more LGBTQI groups and allies to create stunning showpieces. 

The event is once again supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Parade Viewing
Watch on like a VIP at Parade Sideshow and Diamond Club. Parade Sideshow gives a choice of either seated or standing access, each with exclusive access to bars, great food stalls, live screens, bathrooms. Enjoy the Parade as delightful hosts Portia Turbo and Andrew Mercardo give outrageous running commentary. Diamond Club gets a cocktail party makeover with new multi-tiered viewing areas that ensure you are heads above the crowd and don’t miss a moment, as you mingle at the private bar, gourmet food trucks, or dance to our party-starting DJs.

Diamond Club is proudly presented in partnership with ANZ

Side Show is presented in Partnership with Absolut Vodka

Post parade, it’s the official Mardi Gras Party. Dance until dawn with 12,000 of your newest and closest friends across five extravagant dance spaces. Expect big surprises, local and international DJs and guest entertainers, plus mind-boggling lighting and extraordinary theatrics… both on and off stage!

Laneway returns to its ancestral glory as the Beresford Hotel joins forces with The Flinders Hotel for the ultimate recovery party on Sunday 4 March. Taking over both venues and the laneway in between, Laneway features the hottest DJs, surprise performances and an eclectic mix of spaces catered to all. Super starlet Samantha Jade is already confirmed to perform so finish off your Mardi Gras celebrations in style at Laneway!

Mardi Gras Film Festival
From romance to comedies, documentaries to dramas and everything in between, Queer Screen delivers a huge 25th Mardi Gras Film Festival.

Check out some more incredible events in the 2018 Mardi Gras Festival:


  • The First Mardi Gras: Was the Pain Worth the Gain?
    An afternoon with the 78ers
  • Rainbow Reflections, 40 Years OF LGBTI History -
    presented by Lander & Rogers Lawyers and the SGLBA
  • In Conversation with Justice Michael Kirby and Uncle Jack Charles -
    Celebrating the Contribution of the LGBTQI Community to Law and Theatre


  • Apollo The Party
  • Finally ft. Cece Peniston The Party
  • Girlthing Mardi Pardi: Vaults Of Heaven
  • Heaps Gay Pardi Gras
  • Kiki Pool Party
  • Matinee La Leche The Main Event
  • Mega Malebox
  • Papa Black Party
  • Sydney’s Biggest Underwear Party Gets Semi Naked
  • Bear Essentials 22 – Wet
  • WERK! Feat. Willam, Aja & TS Madison Live!


  • 40 Years of Queer Art: Rebellion and Subversion
  • Luscious All Sorts
  • Ross Watson Homines Uniformis



  • Australian LGBTI Awards
  • Equality Dance Australia Festival
  • Planetdwellers Tours, Travel and Events
  • Proudly In Love
  • Rainbow Run Sydney


  • Seymour Centre Presents Courtyard Sessions
  • An Act of God by David Javerbaum
  • Fucking Men by Joe Dipietro
  • IGNITE: Symphonic Dance Anthems
  • MAMA ALTO: Queerly Beloved
  • METAMORPHOSES by Mary Zimmerman
  • The King’s Singers
  • Courtney Act - Under The Covers



About Editor

Chatelin Bruno
(M21 Entertainment -

The Editor's blog




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