Australia’s beloved celebration of pride and diversity, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade will become the first internationally significant event to be staged since the spread of COVID-19, taking place on Saturday 6 March 2021.
In order to ensure the safety of parade participants, spectators and the community at large, the 2021 Parade will be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) – where a capacity of 23,000 audience members will watch on as community groups unite in an extravagant show of pride and passion.
Parade partner SBS will broadcast the entire event live, so revellers from across Australia can tune in to be a part of the celebrations from the comfort of their homes.
“Mardi Gras has always been the epitome of creative expression through art and culture; two things severely impacted by COVID-19 this year,” said Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger. “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.”
“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. 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. With a greater focus on community, our 2021 Parade will move away from large floats, centring instead on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props that make it such a phenomenon to witness,” says Kruger.
After the most recent Mardi Gras celebrations, the organisation executed a comprehensive community consultation process to better understand how the LGBTQI+ community would like to see Mardi Gras represent them in the future.
The outcome of this process has formed a new vision, Always On – that will see Mardi Gras develop year-round initiatives to provide a platform for LGBTQI+ people, community groups and partners to celebrate, share experiences and provide support, no matter where they are.
“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 LGBTQI+ community to have their voices heard.”
“Always On will see us commission and support the development of queer performance and content, support more events beyond Oxford Street, extend our voice to highlight social injustice and support major campaigns, and support community and grassroots organisations year-round,” said Kruger. “These are just some of the initiatives that make up the foundation of our Always On vision.”
The 2021 Mardi Gras theme is RISE – 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.
Mardi Gras are also working with NSW Health on a number of different COVID-safe plans to stage additional events, like the popular Fair Day, in 2021. Updates on the progress of this planning will be provided in the coming weeks.
“The City of Sydney is a proud, long-term supporter of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and I commend the organisation for adapting to the challenges presented by Covid-19,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
“It is poignant that this year’s parade was the last major event held before we had to go into lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. I know many in our community, myself included, have held onto our happy memories of Mardi Gras 2020 to get us through this challenging year.”
“Mardi Gras will look different in 2021 but importantly it will give us the opportunity to come together safely and celebrate. Of course I look forward to the day when tens of thousands of Sydneysiders and visitors from around Australia and the world can gather on Oxford Street once more,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
Parade entry and Parade volunteer applications open on Monday 9 November. Tickets for the live Parade spectacle go on sale Monday 9 November 2020. Mardi Gras members will receive two complimentary tickets to the Parade. For more information, visit: www.mardigras.org.au for details.
Image: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade – photo by Jeffrey Feng Photography