The parade is just the beginning.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras comes but once a year, but when it does, it brings all the pomp and splendour that an international festival of equality of this magnitude deserves. From parties that last all night to exhibitions of dance, from celebrations of culture to intense discussions of social progression, Mardi Gras compiles the most important events that celebrate the diversity in this city that defines our daily life.

With such a magnificent array of things to see and do and with so little time to see and do them all, picking the best of the bunch can be a bit tricky. So here's our list of the top events to soak in this Mardi Gras.

Image: Ann-Marie Calilhanna.

  • 9
    The Mystery of Love and Sex - Darlinghurst Theatre Co.

    Change may well be as good as a holiday, but how do you tell that to the people who represent constants in your life?

    The Mystery of Love and Sex is a collection of secrets, kept with varying degrees of success. Charlotte and Jonny love each other but right now they’re both finding their emotional and physical needs are being met elsewhere. When Charlotte’s parents get wind of this, they don’t judge, they’re definitely not judging. They’re just having a hard time… understanding… how, errr, how it all works.

    Bathsheba Doran, who wrote the play after stints on Boardwalk Empire and Masters of Sex, says the play “explores all different types of love”. It also pokes at the questions of what happens when we need renewal but don’t want to give up what we have and whether family are the best people to help us pick up the pieces in the aftermath.

  • 8
    Mardi Gras Comedy Gala

    A day without laughter is a day wasted, according to Charlie Chaplin, and the same rule applies to festivals. Not wanting to rock the boat, the Mardi Gras Comedy Gala is coming in hot with all the bells and whistles. The lineup this year is nothing short of magnificent, from the hosts to the headliners and everyone in between. Em Rusciano and Bob Downe have assumed MC duties, facilitating favourites like Hannah Gadsby, Tom Ballard, Axis of Awesome and English darling Stephen K. Amos, among a whole host of equally as talented comedians.

  • 7
    The Judas Kiss - Red Line Productions

    In much the same way as many people seem hard-pressed to conjure more than the moment of creation and the mob scene from Frankenstein, it seems to be common knowledge that Oscar Wilde was persecuted for his homosexuality… and that’s it.

    As part of Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebrations, Iain Sinclair directs David Hare’s The Judas Kiss which follows Wilde’s fall from celebrated playwright to a prisoner sentenced to hard labour.

    In 1895, Wilde sued his lover’s father for calling him a sodomite. The trial found evidence that Wilde was culpable for gross indecency and he withdrew his case. The Judas Kiss is set in the weeks following, in which Wilde is holed up in a hotel, his friends pleading with him to flee to France before the law catches up with him.

    But for Wilde’s customary flamboyant wit, there is little to celebrate in the play’s events. Wilde was ruthlessly manipulated by his lover, imprisoned and eventually died in exile. It’s an important story, but don’t go in expecting Lady Windermere’s Fan.

  • 6
    Koori Gras at 107 Projects

    Hosted by Redfern’s community-run, multidisciplinary space 107 Projects, Koori Gras celebrates the rich culture and history of Aboriginal people within the LGBTQI community.

    The program features an exhibition compiled by Tim Bishop, which uses a range of media to tell the stories of the First People’s involvement in the Mardi Gras Parade. Koori Gras also includes Black Nulla, a night of cabaret in drag, and Black Point, a communal feed and open mic night.

  • 5
    Mardi Gras Party 2017

    This is it, folks. The Big Dance. After the Sydney Mardi Gras festival’s culmination at the parade that stops the city, the top ticket in town is the one that gets you into the Entertainment Quarter.

    The party lands on March 4 this year and the bill features twins for the win, with the unavoidably catchy pop stylings of The Veronicas opening the show for indie legends Tegan and Sara. Beats will be curated by a massive mix of DJ talent from home and abroad, including Sylvin Wood, Joelby and the best named DJ ever, DJ Dan Murphy. All American Boy, Steve Grand, will also perform.

  • 4
    I Remember House

    While it’s important to take time during Mardi Gras to learn and appreciate the history of the festival and the movement behind it, it’s also incredibly important to remember that Mardi Gras is a protest wrapped up in a party. And there ain’t no party like a deep house party.

    Sydney’s biggest house event for the gay community and their friends, I Remember House runs a few times throughout the year, and they never fail to deliver on the best house music on offer. The lascivious lineup for the Mardi Gras special event pools talent from around the world and will set them loose at the Ivy on Saturday, February 25.

  • 3
    Mardi Gras Fair Day 2017

    As much as Mardi Gras is about the party and the parade, it just wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without Fair Day. Every year, up to 80,000 folks descend on Camperdown Memorial Rest Park for a day that’s half picnic, half party. You’ll want to bust out your brightest colours because being the only person who didn’t dress up really sucks.

    This year, there’ll live performances from DJ Kitty Glitter, legend of drag Hannah Conda and a whole load more, over 200 stalls for food, bevvies and other delights, plus your favourite four-legged buddy can experience life in the spotlight at Doggywood. It’s going to be a whole bunch of fun.

  • 2
    Mardi Gras Film Festival 2017

    A cavalcade of queer cinema is coming to Sydney’s big screens — yes, it’s almost Mardi Gras Film Festival time again. With the movie-focused offshoot of the city’s long-running LGBTIQ celebration fast approaching, MGFF has unveiled their stacked program. On the agenda: diversity, new talents and familiar faces aplenty.

    While the 2017 selection features almost 100 screenings, where else can we start but with the most recognisable part of this year’s lineup? Yes, that’d be James Franco. We’ve previously noted that the actor pops up just about everywhere, and MGFF really is no different. For fans, or for those who just can’t stop themselves watching his work, Franco stars alongside Christian Slater, Alicia Silverstone and Molly Ringwald in King Cobra, which tells the true story of gay porn star Brent Corrigan.

  • 1
    Heaps Gay Pardi Gras

    One of Sydney’s best party events, Heaps Gay, started as a set of shindigs for the pleasure of Sydney’s LGBTQI community, and over the years, the crew have turned out some of the biggest parties this side of the rainbow. Next up in this long line of happenings? Heaps Gay is throwing a huge party for Sydney Mardi Gras, taking over The Factory in Marrickville.

    Music-wise, the crew from YUMMY Melbourne are on board, alongside Zuri Akoko, Bahdoesa, LOW TON DJs, Oh Boy and a whole host more. There’ll be spoken word by Immani Love, a live stream of the Mardi Gras Parade, main stage visuals by Optic Soup, immersive visuals curated by QUEERTECH.IO, plus there’ll be a speakeasy whiskey bar pop-up, a fortune teller, silent cinema and the now infamous work, The Clitorati, by Deep Sea Astronauts.

    You’re encouraged to wear “bad ’80s wedding attire”, so you might want to rewatch The Wedding Singer for a little inspiration.

Published on February 17, 2017 by James Whitton

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