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Out and about during Mardi Gras

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, SydneyCREDIT: Jeffrey Feng

The world-renowned Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is the biggest night on the city’s LGBTQI+ calendar.

#ilovesydney

Out and about
during Mardi Gras

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Sydney CREDIT: Jeffrey Feng

The world-renowned Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is the biggest night on the city’s LGBTQI+ calendar.

#ilovesydney

Hashtags #ilovesydney

Get ready for the rainbow when the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival shimmers down on Sydney in February and March, culminating in the iconic parade that usually sashays down Darlinghurst’s Oxford Street and Flinders Street to Moore Park. Extend the party and take in all the culture, creativity and community that Sydney has to offer, and make your Mardi Gras even more fabulous by making the most of your time in the city. 

See a drag show 

The drag community is loud, proud and welcoming to all in Sydney, and there are plenty of places to admire the beauty and creativity of these spectacular performers. The Imperial Hotel in the Inner West suburb of Erskineville is a camp icon: the venue starred in The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and has supported the LGBTQI+ community for more than 30 years. Book a Drag N’ Dine show at the venue’s Priscillas restaurant or head to the basement to catch a line-up of drag, music and cabaret performances.  

Named after the historic gay liberation riots in 1969, Stonewall on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst has long been a supporter of the community — watch some of the best performances every Thursday night. And Universal, also in Darlinghurst, boasts a vibrant schedule of entertainment, from cheeky drag game shows to open drag nights on Sundays. 

Wine and dine 

For plenty of pizzazz with your dinner and drinks, start at the Imperial Hotel: order a glass of pink fizz and wood-fired pizza at the glamorous rooftop bar, complete with a gold-mirror pizza oven, pop art graphics and a tongue-in-cheek cocktail menu; or go green at vegetarian-friendly Priscilla’s restaurant. While the Beresford’s infamous Sunday sessions in Surry Hills, bordering Darlinghurst, have been paused temporarily, book a seat at one of its glitzy cabaret shows with dinner and drinks included. Grab a seasonal rainbow Mardi Gras-themed cocktail at The Clock in Surry Hills, or a chardonnay at Oxford Street’s legendary gay bar The Colombian. Stay close to the nightlife with pub food from Dick’s Diner at Stonewall, upscale Italian at Casoni on Bourke Street in Darlinghurst and tropical cocktails at tiki bar Cliff Dive on Darlinghurst’s Oxford Square. In the morning, refuel with a rainbow of brunch from Rusty Rabbit, on the corner of Forbes and Burton streets in Darlinghurst. 

Get your glam on 

Prep for Mardi Gras and adorn yourself for the big parade at these Sydney beauty abodes. Get your skin party-prepped with a Prescriptive Facial at Millk Medi Spa on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst for men and women. Next, with all that skin on show you’ll need to get your glow on at Tan Temple at Bondi Beach — each tan is a bespoke blend for individual skin tones. For perfect brows, the ladies at Brow Bar in Woollahra will give you defined and bold arches — they also do All Night Long Lashes. To finish off your look, pick up glittery face masks, feather boas, fans, bodysuits, gloves and wigs at House of Priscilla in Darlinghurst. 

The Imperial Erskineville CREDIT: Destination NSW

Patrons enjoying a Drag n' Dine night at The Imperial Erskineville in Sydney's inner west.

#ilovesydney

The Imperial Erskineville CREDIT: Destination NSW

Patrons enjoying a Drag n' Dine night at The Imperial Erskineville in Sydney's inner west.

#ilovesydney

The Clock Hotel, Surry Hills CREDIT: James Horan; Destination NSW

The Clock Hotel on Crown Street Surry Hills

#ilovesydney

The Clock Hotel, Surry Hills CREDIT: James Horan; Destination NSW

The Clock Hotel on Crown Street Surry Hills

#ilovesydney

Get out and about 

One of the reasons Sydney is a drawcard for visitors across the globe is the myriad swimming spots on the city’s threshold — from surf beaches to hidden harbour coves and sparkling ocean pools. Take a swim with the chic crowd at Bondi Icebergs Club; in Double Bay grab a flat white and have a paddle at the Murray Rose Pool harbour pool; strut your stuff on the beach at Tamarama (known as Glamarama); or visit the hard-to-find harbour nook Milk Beach in Vaucluse or nearby Lady Bay Beach, where bathing suits are optional.  

Away from the water, fill your days with gallery visits, spa treatments or even a harbour cruise. Sydney Harbour Boat Tours are bespoke cruises hosted by knowledgeable locals — its Sydney Secrets Cruise is a private tour on your own luxury sports cruiser.  

In the heart of the city centre, explore the heritage-listed Queen Victoria Building and indulge in a high tea with fine china and silverware at The Tearoom. Then wind down together with a spa treatment at one of Sydney’s luxury hotels. For couples, The Darling Spa at The Darling hotel in inner-city Pyrmont has a unique massage treatment, Li’Tya Ocean Dreaming Bath, with sandalwood, honey suckle and tea tree oil. 

Shop ’til you bop 

From flamboyant vintage finds to sleek Aussie designs, Sydney has a bold fashion scene to explore. Journey along Oxford Street from Darlinghurst to Paddington and pick up men’s swimwear, accessories and shoes at Aussie Boys, a long-time Mardi Gras supporter. Find pre-loved denim at Fabrique Vintage and browse art and design books at Ariel Booksellers. At The Intersection, a chic designer boutique enclave on the corner of Glenmore Road and Oxford Street in Paddington, stop for a light sushi lunch at Jackies Paddington then peruse local labels such as Dion Lee, Camilla + Marc and Sass and Bide. If retro pieces are your go-to, try Potts Point Vintage for historical pieces for men and women, Vintage at 313 in Newtown or Zoo Emporium in Surry Hills. While you’re in Surry Hills, stock up on activewear, swim briefs and shorts for men, at TEAMM8

Stay in style 

Stay as close as possible to all the glitz and glamour of the parade and other events in the diverse range of options in neighbouring suburbs around the parade. In Surry Hills, Adina Apartment Hotel offers spacious rooms just a five-minute drive from the parade. Also in Surry Hills, boutique 57 Hotel will get you into the groove, taking its design inspiration by the infamous New York nightclub Studio 54, and Little Albion offers designer chic that’s pet-friendly, too. In Paddington, stay in style at boutique heritage hotel Mrs Banks, and for views of all the buzz on Oxford Street, the five-star Pullman Sydney Hyde Park offers luxury amenities, on-site sauna and jacuzzi, fitness centre, and a rooftop pool overlooking the city skyline. 

Note: For the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, 19 February to 7 March 2021, the parade (6 March 2021) will be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the inner-city Moore Park precinct due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Bondi Icebergs Club CREDIT: Destination NSW

Bondi Icebergs Club with views to Bondi Beach.

#ilovesydney

Bondi Icebergs Club CREDIT: Destination NSW

Bondi Icebergs Club with views to Bondi Beach.

#ilovesydney

Pullman Sydney, Hyde Park CREDIT: Destination NSW

Enjoying a day by the pool at Pullman Sydney Hyde Park Hotel.

#ilovesydney

Pullman Sydney, Hyde Park CREDIT: Destination NSW

Enjoying a day by the pool at Pullman Sydney Hyde Park Hotel.

#ilovesydney

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