After weeks of bad weather, the rain eased on Saturday just in time for the 44th annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. And spirits weren’t dampened by the fact that the parade was held at the Sydney Cricket Ground – not its traditional home of Oxford Street – for the second year running. A 40,000-strong crowd turned out for the event, with thousands of members of the LGBTQI+ community and their allies donning their most outrageous rainbow and glitter glad rags to march across the field.

The evening started on a solemn note, with an acknowledgement of the passing of Shane Warne and a moment’s silence for Ukraine. But soon the roars of the Dykes on Bikes’ motorcycles filled the air, a familiar reminder to regular parade-goers that the festivities were about to begin. As ever, members of the LGBTQI+ First Nations community led the parade, along with the 78ers – those who marched in the first ever Mardi Gras in Sydney.

The rest of the evening was a riot of colour, with several nods to Covid-19. The LGBTQI+ Doctors and Dentists cohort called their entry “Combatting Covid”. Holding giant syringers, they were dressed in white outfits emblazoned with red crosses, with blue and yellow painted on their faces to acknowledge Ukraine.

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Familiar faces marching included Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore and Labor leader Anthony Albanese. The Wiggles, Savage Garden frontman (turned solo artist) Darren Hayes and Vanessa Amorosi all performed.