Mardi Gras 2018: 40 Years of Evolution

Trevor Ashley's Mardi Gala2018 marks the historic 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. To celebrate this milestone, the Festival program is bigger, better and more fabulous than ever as it reflects on four decades of amazing evolution, momentous achievements and extraordinary individuals.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival kicks off on Friday 16 February 2018 with seventeen sparkling days, jam-packed with parties, performance, exhibitions, family and community events that culminate with the iconic Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday 3 March 2018.

In this special anniversary year, the 2018 Festival focuses on the theme 40 Years of Evolution. 40 years on from the original 1978 street Festival turned protest, the program and parade have been carefully curated to reflect and celebrate four decades of love, protest, diversity, acceptance, activism, pride, family, passion, creativity, drama and satire.

“This Festival we celebrate all the amazing activists and leaders, including our 78ers, who have fought tirelessly for our rights over the last four decades,” says Mardi Gras Arts CEO, Terese Casu. “We also invite and welcome new friends to join the festivities to celebrate 40 years of fabulousness.

“Mardi Gras is for everyone and this year you will see new spaces and events for more of our community and families to enjoy and share – from our Museum of Love & Protest exhibition at the National Art School Gallery, the inaugural SISSY BALL at Carriageworks to our fabulous Family Fun Day at Luna Park and an exciting performing arts program at the Seymour Centre,” said Casu.

Mardi Gras Creative Director Greg Clarke adds: “The opening weekend of the celebrations features Trevor Ashley’s Mardi Gala at the Sydney Opera House and the wonderful Fair Day back at Victoria Park. Other special events not to be missed include Queer Thinking and Koori Gras at Carriageworks, Queer Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW and the Pool Party.”

“The 40th anniversary Parade looks set to be the best yet, with a sparkling procession of hundreds of jaw- dropping floats and 12,000 revellers will dance till dawn at the Mardi Gras Party, Australia’s biggest LGBTQI party of the year.”

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin says “The NSW Government is proud to support the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. It’s a key moment of Australia’s annual cultural calendar and the plans for the 40th anniversary are making 2018 look no different.”

City of Sydney is the proud government partner of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2018, providing funding for this commemorative anniversary season. Commenting on Mardi Gras’ cultural significance, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says: “This is a major milestone in the history of one of Sydney’s most important events, one that represents our city at its best – diverse, open, creative and irreverent.

“From the first march in 1978 to being one of the world’s great LGBTIQ festivals, the history of Mardi Gras is the history of the community’s long path to equality. We are proud to be a long term supporter of Mardi Gras and of the great welcome Sydney gives to visitors from all over the world.”

The 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival runs 16 February to 4 March. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Trevor Ashley’s Mardi Gala – courtesy of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras