While the iconic Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade down Oxford Street won’t happen this weekend, the usual show of pride and passion will go ahead at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Saturday March 6.
A capacity of 23,000 audience members will be able to watch on as community groups take centre stage in the stadium. For those who can’t make it in person, fret not as the festivities will be aired on TV, making the perfect viewing for your at-home party or celebrations at the local pub.
Here’s a round-up of when and how to watch the event, and which performers and floats to look out for.
What time and how to watch the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Coverage of the celebrations will be available to watch not only in Australia, but around the world this year.
From 6pm AEDT, you can watch the action unfolding from the SCG stadium on SBS On Demand – with geo-block removed for international viewers.
The full parade kicks off at 7:30pm on SBS and NITV, and the networks are encouraging viewers to be active on social media with the hashtags #MardiGras2021 and #WeRiseFor.
Who is performing at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras?
Sam Smith and Dua Lipa were among the big international performers in 2020, and while we thought the COVID-19 pandemic would make it difficult to get global faces this year, we’re still in for a real treat.
Rita Ora will be performing on the night. The 30-year-old British musician, who is already in Australia for the filming of ‘The Voice’, has said she’s very “excited” to be singing at the Mardi Gras celebrations.
“Soo excited to be part of this year’s @sydneymardigras line-up!! Saturday 6th March, cannot wait!!” she tweeted last month.
Other acts to watch out for include Australia’s ‘Eurovision’ pick Montaigne, indie musician G Flip, as well as soulful electronic duo Electric Fields.
A Welcome to Country curated by Ben Graetz will be performed at the start of the show featuring John Leha and singer/songwriter Scott Hunter, as well as Koomurri dancers, NAISDA dancers and Buuja Butterfly dancers.
After that we’ll see the Dykes on Bikes perform a lap to signal the start of the parade which will be led with the First Nations and 78ers floats.
Bring on the glitter and glory.
Who are the hosts of the TV broadcast?
Drag queen Courtney Act, TV presenter Narelda Jacobs, and comedians Joel Creasey and Zoë Coombs Marr return as hosts this year.
Former ‘Australian Idol’ star Courtney hinted there will be “lots of inflatables” and “puppetry” on display this year as the event is executed in a pandemic-friendly fashion.
“On Saturday night, I’m most looking forward to seeing how the queer community of Australia adapts to the new temporary home at the Sydney Cricket Ground,” Courtney told HuffPost Australia.
“There’s no floats, there’s no wheels on the pitch, and I know the Sydney Mardi Gras workshop has been hard at it creating what will be an amazing spectacle despite not having any flatbed trucks to have the floats on.
“I believe there will be lots of inflatables, lots of puppetry, lots of really inventive ways of creating amazing spectacles.”
Meanwhile Channel 10 newsreader Narelda said she can’t wipe away the “incredible” memories from last year’s festivities while still “looking forward to charities and champions of our community having their stadium moment” this year.
“My favourite Mardi Gras moment would have to be watching Sam Smith rise at last year’s afterparty to reveal their incredible red ‘equality’ dress to thousands of adoring queers,” Narelda told HuffPost Australia.
What is the 2021 theme?
“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,” said Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger.
Kruger said that Oxford Street remains the “spiritual home” of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations, but the new location will allow physical distancing and contract tracing requirements to be met.
The theme for 2021 is ‘Rise’, a timely one given the challenges of this year, calling for people to rise again through love, compassion, respect and understanding.
“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,” said Kruger.
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