Bright colours, ready-to-party attitudes, and lots and lots of glitter — for just over two weeks every year, Mardi Gras takes over Sydney, with parties, shows and talks on at venues across the city. This year, Mardi Gras runs Friday, February 18 – Sunday, March 6, with the Fair Day at Victoria Park, Parade at Sydney Cricket Ground and most of the other annual events still set to go ahead, while the Party was, unfortunately, cancelled.
And, while you can check out all the official events on the Mardi Gras page, if you’re after some of the other happenings around Sydney over Mardi Gras time, we’ve got some of the highlights here. From a Surry Hills bar favourite hosting a Camp Cocktail masterclass and singles party, to a Potts Point restaurant throwing a ‘Dine With a Queen’ brunch, here are the best spots to celebrate Mardi Gras — aside from Fair Day and the Parade, of course.
The Surry Hills neighbourhood bar and restaurant Forrester’s is hosting a Mardi Gras-themed Bottomless Rosé Lunch on Saturday, February 26, complete with a show by Queen Millenia Alcox and her friends Raquel and Victoria Mami. Kicking off from 12pm and running for four hours, the brunch will set you back $99 per person, which includes bottomless rosé for two hours and a banquet, including spiced chilli lamb skewers, cumin roast carrots and sweetcorn and mozzarella croquettes.
No rest for the wicked with Queen Millenia Alcox hosting another lunch over in Potts Point at The Butler, the following day – Sunday, February 27. Again running from 12-4pm, the lunch was designed by Head Chef Amber Doig, and will feature the likes of seared rare beef, sashimi yellowfin tuna and Wagyu rump cap. It’ll set you back $145 per person, with bottomless bubbles, mimosas and rose included for two hours.
Big Gay Brunch, Drag Bingo and a Singles Party at The Winery
It’s all happening at The Winery this Mardi Gras, with the line-up of events kicking off Friday, February 18 and finishing after the official end of Mardi Gras – Wednesday, March 9. On the menu is a Camp Cocktail masterclass, a Big Gay Brunch, drag bingo, a singles party, drinks and doodles evening and a Mardi Gras Parade Viewing Party. The bar will also temporarily be adding a Camp Cocktail menu to its drinks offering, with 13 bright and fruity cocktails, from ‘Pash Me’ to ‘That Peach Though’.
If you’re after an actual taste of big pride energy, fly on over to café Cuckoo Callay. From now until Sunday, March 6, both the Newtown and Surry Hills venue will be serving up a special Mardi Gras menu, featuring an oh-so-flamboyant French Toast, as well as Shrimp Po’ Boy, which pays homage to the Mardi Gras Parade’s origins in New Orleans.
Step aside, drag queens — it’s all about the drag king at Elm Rooftop Bar at The Taphouse, Darlinghurst. On Saturday, February 26 and for the next five consecutive weeks, the venue will be hosting the country’s only drag king brunch, with packages starting at $129. And while you catch the show by resident drag king Axl Rod and a live saxophone player and DJ, you can tuck into Sydney rock oysters, watermelon gazpacho and crab banh mi, washed down with an include two hours of cuvée and rosé.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what exactly drag kings are, they’re mostly female performance artists who dress in masculine drag and personify male gender stereotypes.
If you were really looking forward to the official Mardi Gras Party, ‘Gay For It’ event at Watson’s Entertainment Quarter is the next best thing. Headlined by the Queen of Glitterland, Kitty Glitter, the party starts at 12pm on Saturday, March 5, with live entertainment running through ‘til 3:30am. Catch the Parade broadcast live on a screen in the courtyard or head up to Danny’s Bar on level 1 for a boogie. First-release tickets are $45.
While Club Kabarett isn’t exactly Mardi Gras-themed, it’s worth a mention given its fabulous gender bending and the fact it’s running around the same time. Popping up February 15 to March 12 at First Fleet Park, on the foreshore of Circular Quay and MCA in The Rocks, the show promises an immersive night of provocative, hilarious circus and sideshow, soundtracked by a Weimar-punk jazz band.
DJ Chip, Mike Kelly and Side Hustle DJs will be spinning on Saturday, March 5 at The Old Fitzroy’s Alfresco Day Party. The festivities start at 3pm and run until late.
Expect a hot mess of a line-up of DJs and go-go dancers, alongside the usual indie beers and delicious BBQ menu, at the Tav on Saturday, March 5, from 9pm ’til 3am. Entry is free, but bookings are encouraged.