Skip to Content

Don't miss our latest posts. Subscribe now to our gay travel newsletter

Sydney Mardi Gras 2025: Events, Parade, Route and Parties

Stefan Arestis
Sydney Mardi Gras 2025: Events, Parade, Route and Parties

Everything you need to know about attending Sydney Mardi Gras in 2025 including the best parties to go to, where to see the big Parade, and oh such much more!

Sydney during Mardi Gras every February/March feels like the entire gay community descends on the city. We've been several times to Sydney, which is super gay at the best of times, but during Mardi Gras, it's something else!

Mardi Gras Sydney is a month-long event that coincides with the other Carnival/Mardi Gras events taking place around the world in February/March. It usually kicks off with the super popular Bondi Beach Party and a large Fair Day where small LGBTQ businesses get to strut their stuff. It continues with a variety of queer events taking place throughout the city – a mix of parties, art gatherings, festivals, pool parties, and comedies. It climaxes on the final Saturday with the big Parade with a grand After Party – and then an even grander Closing Party.

We can't get enough of it. We love Sydney at the best of times, but during Mardi Gras, it transforms into something else. It feels like our community is the center of the universe, with everyone uniting to celebrate our love. It's for this reason that we rate Sydney Mardi Gras as one of the best gay events in the world.

Here is our take on Sydney Mardi Gras from our experience, which we recommend you read alongside our detailed gay guide to Sydney.

Beautiful queer street art mural in Sydney for Mardi Gras Festival.
Beautiful street art mural in Sydney's main gay area

Heads up: We just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links. That means if you book something through one of those links, we'll get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. It helps us keep our blog going – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥

Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys with rainbow fan.

Travel worry free!

Don't skimp out on your travel insurance: make sure your trip is fun, frivolous, and free! Most importantly, good travel insurance will cover you for any medical emergencies, flight cancellations, pricey hospital bills, car rental protection, and more.

Get a quote now

About Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney's Mardi Gras has grown to become one of the most popular carnival events in the world. It began on Saturday 24 June 1978 at 10 pm – a chilly winter's night (remember in Australia the seasons are reversed). Several hundred members of the LGBTQ community gathered at Taylor Square to protest. They followed a truck that had a sound system along Oxford Street to Hyde Park, chanting in unison:

“Out of the bars and into the streets!”

Stop police attacks on gays, women, and blacks!”

By the time the parade arrived at Hyde Park, the police made the first arrests, which continued as more people joined the protest. A total of 53 people were arrested. At the time, it was illegal to be gay in Australia. It wasn't fully decriminalized nationwide until 1997. South Australia (where Adelaide is) was the first in 1975, Victoria (where Melbourne is) followed in 1980, and New South Wales (home to Sydney) in 1984. The final state to do so was Tasmania in 1997.

This bold group who walked so that we could run today became known as the 78ers who you can still spot leading the Mardi Gras Parade today (more on this below).

As time evolved, Australia grew to become the huge gay haven that it is today, especially Sydney and the gay scene of Melbourne. Alongside it, the Mardi Gras grew in popularity becoming the fantastic festival it is today, packed with events and parties, attracting thousands from all around the world. In 2023 the eyes of the world looked on as Sydney proudly hosted WorldPride 2023 during Mardi Gras.

The 78ers marching in the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade.
The OGs, the 78ers, proudly marching in the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

How many people go to Sydney Mardi Gras

Interestingly, Mardi Gras doesn't attract the millions that frequent events like Sao Paolo or Madrid Pride. Several hundred thousand gather to watch the parade. And we don't hate this. Sydney feels less hectic than other large gay pride events, but still feels like it's brimming with gays!

The parties blew our minds. For example, the Bondi Beach Party attracts 15,000, and the Mardi Gras Party, 10,000! When have you ever been to a gay party with so many people?! Not even a La Demence gay cruise has these numbers!

The crowds and parade at Sydney Mardi Gras.
Several hundred thousand people come to Sydney Mardi Gras each year

What day is the Sydney Mardi Gras?

The next Sydney Mardi Gras season is estimated to take place from Friday 14th February to Sunday 2nd March 2025.

The Sydney Mardi Gras Parade takes place on the final Saturday of the festival, so the next one is estimated to take place on Saturday 1st March 2025.

The Sydney Mardi Gras Parade route

The Sydney Mardi Gras Parade honors the same path that the bold group in 1978 took – mainly along Oxford Street from Taylor Square to Hyde Park. Today, however, this has been extended.

The Parade starts in Hyde Park, marches along Oxford Street, and then continues to Moore Park. On the night before, volunteers will put stands and barriers up along the parade route, keeping a clear distance between spectators and the parade participants.

Mardi Gras art at the QTOPIA gay museum in Sydney.
Beautiful art mural for Mardi Gras at the Sydney QTOPIA museum

Why do Dykes on Bikes lead the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade?

The story behind this touched us so much that we felt it important to have a section for it.

3 groups have the honor of leading the parade: the 78ers, the First Nations Community Float, and the Dykes on Bikes.

Before anything happens, the Dykes on Bikes militantly power down on their motorbikes along the parade route from Hyde Park to Moore Park, and back again. This marks the start of the Parade. The Dykes on Bikes then slowly lead the Parade with the First Nations Community Float, and the 78ers following behind them.

When we first saw this we were baffled! Why do these scary group of lesbian ladies start the Parade in this way? Why does their logo include giant rainbow angel wings?

Back in the 1980s and 1990s when homophobia in Sydney was rife, largely due to the stigma caused by the AIDS Crisis, gay men were frequently targeted by violent gangs, particularly outside the queer spaces. So in 1987, Kimberly O'Sullivan and her partner Sue Perry set up a group of lesbians who would parade the streets of Sydney on their bikes to intimidate and scare off violent gangs and protect LGBTQ people. Hence the rainbow angel wings.

To find out more about the Dykes on Bikes and their beautiful inspiring story we strongly advise visiting the excellent queer Qtopia Sydney Museum opposite Taylor Square in Darlinghurst.

Dykes on Bikes leading the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade.
Dykes on Bikes leading the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

Who can join the Parade?

Sydney is super strict. The Sydney Mardi Gras Parade is not like other gay Pride events where the crowds eventually join the parade route and become united. In Sydney, barriers are placed the night before alongside the Parade route to hold the spectators back.

The only way to be part of the Parade is to be part of one of the float groups or apply before via the Get Involves section on their website.

When the Parade finishes, the crowds disperse on Oxford Street, which becomes a glorious mess for a few hours. Most gays will probably head back at this point to prepare for the Mardi Gras Party. Others will head to places like Stonewall, Universal, or Poof Doof.

Dejavu gay party at Universal during Sydney Mardi Gras.
The Dejavu party at Universal during Mardi Gras

Sydney Mardi Gras Events

These are some of the best events taking place during Mardi Gras that we recommend checking out. Make sure you check the Mardi Gras website for the most up-to-date info for each event and party.

Progress Pride Flag Raising

The Progress Pride Flag is raised at the Sydney Town Hall on the first day of the Mardi Gras Festival, which marks the start of the new season. It will continue to fly on the Town Hall until the end of the Festival.

Fair Day

Fair Day is one of the highlights of Sydney Mardi Gras. It's massive, usually attracting crowds of around 80,000 or more! It takes place on the first Sunday of the Mardi Gras Festival, usually at Victoria Park. It's where small local LGBTQ businesses can market their items to the community. The event also includes events like the Doggywood dog pageant, the TransCamp, Karaoke Cave, and the Drag King Games.

Sadly, the 2024 Fair Day was canceled last minute due to asbestos contamination at Victoria Park! Instead, a more subdued Fair Day took place across the main gay bars on Oxford Street like the Burdekin and Stonewall.

Condom Man sardonic art for Sydney Mardi Gras.
Made us giggle…artwork on display during the Mardi Gras Festival

Laugh Out Proud

A 9-course meal of laughs from award-winning comedians. It's usually a sell-out, so definitely consider booking in advance.

Sissy Ball

The biggest Vogue Ball in the Southern Hemisphere! It takes place at the Sydney Town Hall, usually on the same day as the Bondi Beach Party (a Saturday). Vogue families gather to strut their stuff and battle it out for their 10s.

Mardi Gras Film Festival

Queer Screen is the home of the Mardi Gras Film Festival. It is a celebration of everything queer on the big screen both locally and around the world. The Festival usually lasts for the entirety of the Mardi Gras month with a range of ticked and paid events. Check the Queer Screen website for the latest info.

The Mardi Gras Parade

The big highlight, which takes place on the final Saturday of the Festival. Thousands of spectators line the streets of Oxford Street to watch the Parade power along from Hyde Park to Moore Park.

Our advice is to head to one of the rooftop bars on Oxford Street for a bird's eye view, such as The Colombian.

A poster from the 1982 Mardi Gras Festival.
A poster from the 1982 Sydney Mardi Gras!

Gay parties during Sydney Mardi Gras

Some of the best gay parties we've ever been to were at Mardi Gras, especially the Bondi Beach Party, the Mardi Gras Party (sometimes referred to as the After Party), and the Closing Party. There are also pool parties galore and a few other gems to look out for. The only downside is these parties are so popular they come with quite a hefty price for tickets.

Heads up: if you're trying to get tickets to an event that's listed as sold out on the Mardi Gras website, or you want to re-sell your tickets, we recommend using Tixel. It's legit and easy to use. We used it a few times on the advice of local friends in Sydney.

The White Party

Usually takes place on the Friday of the big Mardi Gras Parade weekend in a large venue that can house 2,000 souls. Famous DJs and drag queens are the headliners – ANETRA & DJ Danny Verde to name a few. We didn't go to this one, simply because there were so many parties during the Mardi Gras Parade weekend that we had to turn some down to allow our bodies a chance to heel!

Bondi Beach Party

15,000 gays all congregating in front of one of the most iconic beaches in the world to party? We knew instantly that we had to get tickets for it…and we did as soon as they were released in the preceding December 'cause they sell out fast! The Bondi Beach Party includes a large stage, usually with an international performer – the likes of Nicole Scherzinger and Sophie Ellis Bextor have braced the stage in the past.

Bondi Beach Party during the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival.
Et voila: the Bondi Beach Party!

Pool Parties

The main ones are usually the Kiki Gay Pool Party, Kaftana Pool Party, and the Paradiso Pool Party at the Ivy Pool Club. There's one every week during the Festival, each one as good as the other. To be honest, the one to go to largely depends on how you're feeling from the night before. They usually start just after lunchtime and go on till 11 pm.

Boat Parties

As with the pool parties, there are several Mardi Gras boat parties to look out for. The main ones are usually organized by Morning Glory and Poof Doof. It's a lot of fun and a handy way to get an iconic image of the Sydney Harbor and the Opera House close up. The sunset cruises depart around 6 pm. Others will leave early in the day, depending on the boat schedule that has been chartered.

Pound Party

Head to Sydney Sauna on any normal day (even on a weekend), and you walk inside, pay your fee and you're in. Not so during Mardi Gras…these gays are thirsty for action (especially around 2-3 am). The queue to get in goes around the block! Pound Party is Sydney Sauna's big Mardi Gras party that is spread over the main weekends during the month-long Festival. If you want plenty of, action, consider coming here!

Sydney Sauna best gay bathhouse in Sydney.
Sydney Sauna on Oxford Street: home to the infamous Pound Party!

Mardi Gras Party

Billed as the Grand Dame of the entire month. This is the official Mardi Gras Party, sometimes referred to as the After Party (because it takes place, well, after the Parade finishes). It takes place in a large park – usually Moore Park, which is cordoned off from the public and has several stages installed for a party that goes on till 8 am. It's marketed online as an adult playground of pleasure, but manage your expectations: with the number of sniffer dogs and undercover police here, if that sort of pleasure is what you're after, best head to Pound Party.


One of the best Kick-ons during Mardi Gras – so our friends told us, and after going, we can see why. It takes place during the day on the final Sunday of the Festival along the small road outside the Beresford Hotel. It starts at 2 pm and goes on until 10 pm. Wondering what a ‘kick-on' is? It's Australian slang for an ‘after party'. In this case, the after party to the Mardi Gras After Party(!)

The Closing Party

In our opinion, the best party of the entire month. Probably because it's the final big one and by this point, emotions are riding high from all the many friends we made. It's big, it's bold and everyone comes to it. It takes place on the final Sunday of the month and then merges into the famous Morning Glory Party, which goes on till midday on Monday. This is kinda like the After After After party(!) From 6 am, look out for the unique Jay Jay the Balloon Man who can create any type of party balloon you can think of!

Morning Glory balloons at the Sydney Mardi Gras Closing Party.
Nothing to see here, just two queers modeling their Morning Glory balloons at the Closing Party!

Where to stay during Sydney Mardi Gras

When it comes to being gay friendly, you'll have no problems booking a place in Sydney. Every hotel here welcomes LGBTQ travelers. Sharing a double bed is not an issue for gay couples. The staff are used to us, they love us – heck, most of them ARE us!

So our honest advice when it comes to booking a place to stay during Sydney Mardi Gras? As soon as you know you're going, book a place ASAP. This is peak season for hotels in Sydney and prices skyrocket! We just check the best offers we can find on using Seby's Genius Level 3, which sometimes has a discount or an offer.

The alternative is to book an apartment on Airbnb or Misterbnb, especially if you're staying longer than a week. For us, Australia is a long trip, so we prefer to base ourselves there longer than a week, so we search for an apartment to stay in for the whole month of Mardi Gras. In terms of areas to base yourself in Sydney, we recommend somewhere in the main gay areas: Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, and Kings Cross. That way you'll be right at the heart of all the action.


Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.

For more inspiration:

Stefan Arestis

Hey everyone, I'm Stefan, the curly-haired Greek flavor behind the gay travel blog Nomadic Boys. Together with my other half, I have explored more than 90 countries across 5 continents. What I love most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, learning new cultures. I've written about LGBTQ travel in numerous online publications such as Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times and Pink News as well as for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Check my full bio here.