Following on from a momentous 2023, where Sydney hosted World Pride for the first time, this year’s program aims to keep that energy and spirit high for another edition stuffed to the frills. Celebrating the entire community across the LGBTQIA+ banner, with hundreds of community events, dance parties and club events, culminating in the lights and action of the main parade.

The 46th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival got off to a rocky start thanks to an asbestos discovery at Victoria Park, meaning the annual Fair Day was cancelled. The festival’s program – running from February 16 to March 3 – still has heaps of colourful and inclusive events for 2024. Here are our picks of the official and fringe events happening this year.

Queer Screen’s 31st Mardi Gras Film Festival

There are 160 films to choose from, from opening night neo-noir thriller Femme to the Zachary Quinto-starring dark comedy Down Low. See the world premiere of local documentary A Portrait of Love – a celebration of the life of Archibald-winning artist Craig Ruddy. Or catch a Greek summer with simmering gay tales in The Summer with Carmen. Westpac Openair Cinema will showcase a special screening of All of Us Strangers, with the full program rolling out across the Ritz, Cremorne’s Hayden Orpheum, Dendy Newtown and the ever-reliable Event Cinemas George Street, among others. A highlight in our eyes is the Sydney Cello Quartet performing music from queer films such as Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Tár. Plus, the State Library will host thought-provoking discussions on queer tropes on screen.
February 15–29, various locations. On-demand March 1–11.

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Queer Records Pop-Up Shop

Every good Mardi Gras party or warm-up session needs a good soundtrack. Stock up on vinyl at this pop-up at Ace Hotel’s Good Chemistry. The Melbourne-based, queer-owned record store specialises in LGBTQIA+ music and records. You’ll find both new and second-hand records alongside merch, T-shirts and totes. In addition to the shop, the team has cultivated a drop of 46 iconic albums that hotel guests can enjoy on their stay and buy to take home. Keep an eye out for other local brands supporting the community while you shop, like Australian-made furniture and lifestyle purveyors Jardan, which is launching a limited-edition “Love Is Love” tote bag with proceeds going to LGBTQIA+ charity Minus 18.
Saturday February 17, Good Chemistry, 12pm–4pm.

Sissy Ball

Posing its way through Australia every year since 2018, Sissy Ball has made its unmissable mark on the Mardi Gras program – and claims global recognition for excellence in the ballroom scene. As the biggest vogue ball in the southern hemisphere, Sissy Ball takes over Sydney Town Hall and sees the godmother of Australian ballroom, Killa, return to lead houses from across the country as they quest for 10s across the board. Vogueing families will make the stage their home for what will be a night of sensational looks, drops, dips and face. Categories run the gamut from Runway and Old Way vs New Way to Ballroom and Sex Siren.
Saturday March 24, Sydney Town Hall, 6pm–11pm

Bondi Beach Party

Last year’s Bondi Beach Party debut now looks to be a mainstay on the Mardi Gras calendar. The world-famous location will light up once again for a huge day party featuring British pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who is taking over the stage to make sure you’re not left crying at the discotheque. Partygoers can also expect an exclusive show from LA pop legend Slayyyter, bringing her signature slippery pop glamour, plus performances from Corey Craig, Lagoon Femshayma and Jay Jay Revlon.
Saturday March 24, Bondi Beach, 2pm–10pm.

Show Us Ya Tips

Sydney-based queer collective Angels Only brings back Show Us Ya Tips for another Mardi Gras edition of no-phones-allowed fun. Hosts Ruby Teys and Jason de Cox welcome you to routines from both professional and amateur performers of all stripes, genders and styles. What you can count on is a raucous and lively experience, some comedy moments and seriously good looks and moves. Raising money for Swop (Sex Workers Outreach Project) and Decolonise Sex Work, the event asks you to collect your “bottom dollars” on entry for tipping the performers and showing your support for the cause.
Thursday February 29, The Abercrombie Hotel, 8pm–3am.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade

This year’s parade is set to captivate audiences with its impressive line-up of 12,500 marchers and over 200 dazzling floats. It commemorates the 46th anniversary of its inception with the theme “Our Future” woven into the floats, costumes, lighting displays and fireworks. The route spans from Hyde Park to Moore Park, with various viewing areas, both free and premium. Don’t forget to check out the many free parties on parade night just beyond the main strip, such as Shoop’s Ninth Annual Mardi Gras Party at the Cricketers Arms all night, music till 3am at the Beauchamp, or a huge line-up of DJs at the Dolphin Hotel, among others.
Saturday March 2, Oxford Street and surrounds, 6pm–11pm.

mardigras.org.au