The 2020 Mardi Gras program has been announced, and it’s going to be huge (and fabulous). Running from February 14 until March 1, the annual celebration of Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community is bringing back old favourites and introducing a host of new festivities to the city.

The 2020 theme is “What Matters”, and the festival will be encouraging the public to examine what they can do to create an even more inclusive future post-marriage equality debate. It will celebrate those fighting for equality, from queer artists to thought leaders.

The festival hub will once again be located at the Seymour Centre in Chippendale, where the biggest line-up of trans and gender-diverse performers to ever share the main stage will flip gender dysphoria on its head in Gender Euphoria – a series of music, dance, comedy, burlesque, circus and poetry performances over one weekend.

Also at the Seymour Centre: Fuck Fabulous, a neo-punk cabaret variety show condemning the commodification of queer culture; Yummy Unleashed from cabaret ensemble Yummy; Hot Brown Honey, which will address preconceptions about women of colour; Hudson & Halls, one of New Zealand’s most successful comedies of the past decade; Spice Night, a celebration of queer comedy from across Asia; Queer Thinking, a weekend of workshops, panels and discussions tackling issues such as law reform, prison abolition and data marginalisation; Koori Gras, a series of queer Indigenous workshops and performances; and Laugh Out Proud, a comedy night featuring comedians such as Rhys Nicholson, Zoe Coombs Marr, Karen from Finance and Tom Ballard.

But there’s a whole lot more going on beyond the festival hub, too: Austrian Eurovision icon and drag queen Conchita Wurst will be joined by musical theatre performer and fellow drag artist Trevor Ashley for a one-night-only greatest hits show at the State Theatre; character comedian Myra Dubois will plan her own funeral in Myra Dubois: Dead Funny; Australia’s premier vogue ball, Sissy Ball, returns; and the Minus18 Queer Formal will give teens an inclusive space to celebrate their identities.

On February 22, Oxtravaganza will take over Oxford Street in Darlinghurst with festivities highlighting local retailers, with plenty of live gigs, food and drink stalls, and special offers.

As always, Fair Day will be held on the first weekend of Mardi Gras, with community stalls, a Doggywood competition and a showcase of queer performers. Over at Ivy in the city, a Kaftan Party will be held on February 19, and on the final Monday of celebrations punters will get to refresh at the Pool Party at Ivy’s pool.

On the biggest night of the Mardi Gras calendar – parade night – there’s a plethora of options to keep revellers satisfied. Watch the parade – which organisers call a “vehicle of protest” – from the Diamond Club at Taylor Square or Sideshow at Flinders Street, followed by the Mardi Gras Party at Hordern Pavilion.

The festival will end with Laneway on March 1, a street party that takes over The Beresford and Hill Street Laneway in Surry Hills with multiple dance floors, local DJs and pop-up performances.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras began back in 1978 when a small group of protestors joined together to be part of gay celebrations happening around the world. The subsequent police violence and arrests led to more protests and more arrests. But by 1979, the legislation that allowed those arrests had been repealed, making way for a peaceful Mardi Gras that year – and in the decades that followed.

In 2023, Sydney will host WorldPride to coincide with the 45th anniversary of Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras 2020 will run from February 14 until March 1. The parade is on Saturday, February 29.

mardigras.org.au