Sydney’s 2022 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has been shifted from Oxford Street to the Sydney Cricket Ground, for the second year running. Festival organisers made the decision due to ongoing uncertainty around Covid-19. Hosting the parade in the stadium means it can be scaled up or down, depending on the pandemic situation – a task that’s much harder to control on Oxford Street, which typically sees 250,000 spectators line the strip.

“There’s still uncertainty of what March is going to look like for us,”said Mardi Gras’s CEO Albert Kruger in a statement. “Mardi Gras can’t guarantee that in the next few months things will be back to normal and we can safely have hundreds of thousands spectators on the streets.

“The parade is too important to the community to risk having to cancel. So right now, when decisions need to be made, the SCG 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.”

Organisers say they intend for the parade to return to its traditional Oxford Street home in 2023; it will be a feature of WorldPride celebrations, which are set to be hosted by Sydney that year. The 2022 parade will be held on March 5, with the festival itself running from February 18 to March 6, with its usual vibrant program of parties, theatre, panel discussions, Fair Day and more. Mardi Gras’s 2022 theme is United We Shine, a call for LGBTQIA+ communities to work together in standing up against inequality.

Tickets for the 2022 Mardi Gras Parade go on sale on November 15. Join the waitlist here. There is also a “hardship” ballot, with 3000 free parade tickets for those who can’t afford one. Applications for those also open on November 15. Mardi Gras members and 78ers – those who marched in Sydney’s first Mardi Gras – will each receive two complimentary tickets.