It’s the news we needed to save 2020. Australia’s annual celebration of pride and diversity, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, has been confirmed to go ahead in 2021, on Saturday, March 6.
Since it’s said to be the “first internationally significant event” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will operate a little differently to how it’s run in previous years.
In lieu of the parade down Oxford Street, the event will instead be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Event organisers are confident that they’ll be able to ensure the safety of parade participants, spectators and the community, while seating a 23,000 strong audience in the stadium.
SBS will broadcast the entire event live, allowing a nationwide platform to watch on as community groups “unite in an extravagant show of pride and passion”.
“Mardi Gras has always been the epitome of creative expression through art and culture; two things severely impacted by COVID-19 this year. So it was important to Mardi Gras that we rise to the occasion and to give the community the creative platform to express their pride to the world,” says Mardi Gras CEO, Albert Kruger.
“The 2021 Parade may look different to how it has been in the past, but we feel very lucky to be able to give this opportunity to our communities during these times.”
Kruger continued: “The team at Mardi Gras have worked tirelessly with NSW Health to develop a COVID Safe event plan to ensure the Parade can go forward and we’re excited by the prospect of staging the event at the SCG.
“Not only is the SCG close to our spiritual home of Oxford Street, but it also provides the safest venue for us to hold the event and meet requirements of physical distancing and contact tracing.”
Kruger says the 2021 event will have a greater focus on community and will move away from larger-scale floats to feature the “outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props that make it such a phenomenon to witness”.
Following the Mardi Gras celebrations in 2020 — essentially the last major event Australia celebrated before lockdown measures — the organisation looked into how it could grow and evolve to celebrate LGBTQIA+ people in a more ongoing capacity.
As such, a new vision was formed called ‘Always On’. It’s a commitment from the Mardi Gras organisation that will see the team develop year-round initiatives that provide a platform for community members, groups and partners to celebrate and support one another every day of the week, from every corner of Australia.
“While we are well known for our main annual event in Sydney, our surveying of the community has shown us that we can be so much more than a parade,” said Kruger. “Our vision of Always On will see us rise to community expectations and provide year-round opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community to have their voices heard.”
Always On will support the development of queer performance and content, and will extend as a voice to highlight social injustice and support campaigns working for inclusivity.
In 2021, the theme for Mardi Gras will be ‘Rise’. According to a press release, the theme will deliver “a poignant message during the challenge and hardship that 2020 has presented, and a nod to the direction Mardi Gras is moving towards with their Always On vision”.
“The theme is a call to action that now is the time to rise again through love, compassion, respect and understanding, and to work together to make the world a better place for all.”
Tickets for the live Mardi Gras Parade will go on sale Monday, November 9, at www.mardigras.org.au. Mardi Gras members will receive two complimentary tickets to the Parade event.