The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade will move from its spiritual home of Oxford Street to the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2021, with organisers announcing a ticketed and COVID-safe take on the iconic celebration.
On Thursday, Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger revealed up to 23,000 punters will flock to the stadium on Saturday, March 6, to catch the modified festivities.
The event, organised in consultation with NSW Health, will see fewer large floats than usual, Kruger said. Instead, it will focus on the “pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props” which make the night so special.
“Not only is the SCG close to our spiritual home of Oxford Street,” Kruger added, “but it also provides the safest venue for us to hold the event and meet requirements of physical distancing and contact tracing.”
There’s some poetry at play here, too. The 2020 parade was one of our last major public events before the coronavirus pandemic really set in, with an estimated 200,000 punters celebrating the brilliance and perseverance of LGBTQI communities at home and abroad, and next year’s event is poised to be one of the Australia’s first large-scale celebrations after national lockdowns.
Taking to social media, Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the Mardi Gras parade would be different without Oxford Street, but would present an opportunity to “gather with our LGBTIQ communities after a difficult year.”
“I am a proud, long-term supporter of Mardi Gras and I commend the organisation for working with the NSW Government to put on a COVID-Safe event in 2021,” she added.
It’s likely not the kind of celebration many would have hoped for after such a dire year, but the modified event is in keeping with expectations that large-scale public events will remain off the cards well into the new year.
Applications for parade entrants and volunteers opens on Monday, November 9, with tickets going on sale the same day. Thankfully, SBS will be on deck to broadcast the event to the rest of us, meaning folks around Australia will be able to catch up on one of our most significant cultural events.