Hundreds of thousands gathered to celebrate Mardi Gras and call for equality

Posted on 05 Mar, 2017
Hundreds of thousands gathered to celebrate Mardi Gras and call for equality

Last night an estimated 250,000 spectators took to the streets to watch more than 12,000 participants take part in the world’s biggest celebration of the LGBTQI community - the 39th annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

Born from a single night of celebration turned political protest, the true Mardi Gras spirit lives on today. The Mardi Gras theme of “Creating Equality” saw thousands of LGBTQI people and their supporters from all over the world come together in a sea of colour to celebrate creative self-expression and champion equal rights.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu reveals the make-up of the Parade:

  • 185 entry floats/groups;
  • Close to four hours viewing time;               
  • 1.1km Parade train of vehicles;
  • 300 bikes;
  • More than 150 vehicles or pushables;
  • More than 10,000 walkers;
  • More than 1,300 riders;
  • 12,111 total participants.

“The efforts of everyone involved in this year’s Parade helped in creating a sparkling spectacle of self-expression,” says Casu.

“The passion and enthusiasm of the Parade participants and spectators made for a truly show-stopping experience.

“While we celebrated our wonderfully colourful community, we also had a number of floats dedicated to important issues. Marriage equality, refugees, mental health and the recognition of transgender rights were all represented widely in this year’s Parade, and we were thrilled to have the First Nations people, who worked together with the original 1978 Mardi Gras marchers to begin the Parade,” she adds.

“One of the main Mardi Gras floats featured eight 2.4 metre high 3-D equality letters on wheels that spanned over 20 metres. A cross between a moving sculptural installation, parade float and giant photographic exhibition, each letter featured a different participant from the My People I My Tribe community project. This initiative was born as a response to last year’s attack on Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and it was a wonderful sight to see so many of our community members come together for this moment on Parade night.”

As the shiny remains of glitter began to be swept from the streets of Sydney, many of the revellers continued to celebrate Mardi Gras at the after-Party, which took over several venues in Moore Park until 8am. 

Guests of the Party were treated to an incredible line up of international and home grown music acts including: Australian pop icons The Veronicas, Client LiaisonSteve Grand, Sydney’s Nat ConwayPeytonLuke Anthony and DJs Sylvin Wood (FR), Joelby (UK), High Low (FR), Anhy (FR) and local favourites Kate Monroe, DJ Tiny, Rob DavisTHE SWEATSDan MurphyCorey CraigCitizen JaneOxford HustlersJimJam and DJ Mickey.

ANZ’s Head of Marketing, Australia, Carolyn Bendall, said “At ANZ, we value the importance of diversity, inclusion and respect for our staff, our customers and the communities we operate in. This year, we called on the LGBTI and wider community to ‘Hold Tight’ by celebrating the simple act of couples holding hands, and make that universal gesture a mainstream conversation. This year ANZ had more people than ever participating in the Mardi Gras Parade with more than 200 staff, family and friends marching.”

The 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade was proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras season is supported by the City of Sydney and this year featured more than 90 events around Sydney from 17 February to 5 March.

See photo galleries from the 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival here!