The full program for this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is here and after everything we’ve been through, my lord do we need the healing powers of gay Christmas. Fire up the smoke machine, apply some glitter and brace yourself, because this year there’s a lot of (COVID-safe) fun going down.

As we all know by now, this year’s main parade is going to be a ticketed affair at the SCG, but there’s a whole lot of queer goodness happening elsewhere, just in case you missed out.

And no, getting blackout drunk at Arq and then chatting up some stranger twice your age in the smoking alley is NOT on this year’s official agenda. Unfortunately, clubs (and dancing) are still off-limits in NSW, so here’s everything else Mardi Gras has in store.

Comedy – Laugh Out Proud (Feb 26)

There’s a queer comedy show going down at the Enmore Theatre if you just want to laugh with the gays. It’ll be hosted by Nath Valvo, and feature a completely LGBTQ+ cast of comedians, including Mel Buttle, who you may recognise from this year’s season of I’m A Celeb.

Nath Valvo

Art – SKIN DEEP (Feb 18th – March 7th)

If you’re more of an artsy gay, this is probably more your style. The National Art School will be hosting an interactive exhibition presented by NAS Queer Contemporary of intimate and personal stories from LGBTQ+ people. Stories are told through tattooed bodies (which is where the titular pun comes from) for some pretty unique art. I’m into it! (I’m an artsy gay.)

Skin Deep

Talks – My Trans Story, My Drag Story, Queer Thinking (Feb 26 – Feb 27th)

There are a whole bunch of stories being told by incredible queer folk at the NSW Teachers Federation Auditorium, and honestly, if this is your first time hitting up Mardi Gras, you should probably listen to the people who make the queer community so amazing in the first place! Heck, even if it’s your tenth Mardi Gras, let’s listen to the legends like Tea Uglow, Benjamin Law, Andrew Guy and Cindy Pastel just to name a few.

My Trans Story

Film – Mardi Gras Film Festival (Feb 18th – March 4th)

Gather the girls, gays and theys and enjoy over 90 films on offer across a variety of venues for the annual Mardi Gras Film Festival. One of the films playing is Supernova, starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, which despite being criticised for casting straight actors as queer characters, promises to be a pretty gripping queer story.

Suk Suk

Performance – Queer Nu Werk: Werk Harder (March 3rd)

With a name like that I am fully intrigued and ready to… well, werk. This performance promises “leading queer contemporary and experimental artists in a raucous celebration of queer performance, queer bodies and queer perspectives,” which really just sounds like queer excellence on show. The lineup is still to come though!

Queer Nu Werk

Drama – The Pass (Feb 11th – March 6th)

For most of Mardi Gras this year you can check out The Pass at the Seymour Centre. The plot promises a look at the “corrosiveness of high-end celebrity culture and the consequences of toxic masculinity,” which, aside from sounding like one of my HD essays from uni, also sounds fucking cool.

It also stars Ben Chapple from Playing for Keeps which is always a good sign.

The Pass Mardi Gras 2021

Community – Oxtravaganza (Feb 18th – March 7th)

It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without Oxford Street. Across two weeks there’s going to be live music, viewing parties, food and drink deals, and a whole smorgasbord of promotions on the iconic strip.

Oxtravaganza Mardi Gras 2021

And that’s the highlights! If you’re still hungry for more, you can check out the full digital guide here.