Passion and pride will take over the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday 6 March –  the Mardi Gras Parade remains a beacon of hope, a vehicle for protest and the ultimate display of LGBTQI+ creativity.

A stadium crowd will cheer on as 5,000 marchers, across 120 parade entries, take to the field in a vibrant display of diversity and unity. SBS will bring the colour and magic of the Parade to life, broadcasting live for hundreds of thousands tuning in from home, as well as COVID-Safe Mardi Gras viewing parties taking place around the country.

This year’s Mardi Gras theme is RISE, a call to action that now is the time to rise again through love, compassion, respect and understanding. The theme is a poignant message following the challenge and hardship of 2020, with Parade entries incorporating it into their final concepts.

Check out some highlight entries in this year’s Parade:

First Nations
ACON’s Aboriginal Project and BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation present the community-led First Nations entry, which will once again lead the opening of the Parade. A favourite every year, the First Nations float is always a brilliant showcase of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQI+ community. 

Haka For Life
Haka for Life is a Perth-based suicide prevention organisation, in collaboration with Corroboree for Life, that empowers Maori and Aboriginal people through dance, including those that identify as LGBTQI+, to connect with culture through dance. This year, Haka for Life will present a strong and powerful Haka, with traditional Maori costumes, decorated with a touch of rainbow flair.

The Neurodiversity Rainbow (Au)
The Neurodiversity Rainbow (Au) represents the Autistic LGBTQI+ community. Their Mardi Gras entry for 2021 celebrates all that the Autistic LGBTQI+ community have overcome not just this year, but throughout their lives. The Neurodiversity Rainbow (Au) is a unique and special opportunity for the Autistic LGBTQI+ community and allies to come together, make friends, support one another and celebrate who they are.

Chinese LGBTQIA Community Float
Founded in 2016, the Chinese LGBTQI+ Community Float, aims to increase the visibility of the Chinese LGBTQI+ community, advocate love, freedom and equality for the wider LGBTQI+ community and serve as a cultural bridge between the East and the West. Their parade entry, Phoenix Reborn, will utilize the symbol of the phoenix to express the LGBTQI+ community’s rising from the ashes over the years through courage, patience and perseverance.

Extinction Rebellion
Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a global and politically non-partisan movement that use direct action to persuade governments to act justly on the climate and ecological emergency. Their parade entry is a tongue in cheek look at government inaction on climate change, featuring animals rising up to fight for protection – you may even spot a politician or two in there.

Harbour City Bears
Harbour City Bears are Australia’s largest membership organisation for hairy gay men, their friends, family and admirers. A proud, all-inclusive social club who welcomes everyone regardless of age, gender, orientation, size, race, religion or political leanings, Harbour City Bears are celebrating their 25 year anniversary, rising from niche group to full-blown LGBTQI+ subculture.

Use Me Up, Wear Me Out
Use Me Up, Wear Me Out are a group of friends who are committed to keeping Mardi Gras creative, artistic, progressive, and politically and culturally relevant.  With a deep-rooted concern for the environment, this parade entry will use upcycled materials to create their colourful costumes, becoming a physical expression of consumerism, commercialism, waste, and the climate crisis.

The Fabulous Wonder Mama
Wonder Mama is a community drag character who’s been in the Parade for many years, appeared at countless events and even joined Mardi Gras at World Pride in NYC. In celebration of Friends of Dorothy all over the world, Wonder Mama’s entry is inspired by the characters of the Wizard of Oz with the message of Heart, Courage and Wisdom taking centre stage.

P.I.N.K. F.L.A.M.I.N.G.O.S.
With an exhaustively long name, The Politically Inspired, Non-violent, Kind & Fabulous LGBTQ+ & Allies Marching In Notorious Group of Satirists (aka Pink Flamingos), are bringing back their rainbow army to celebrate the removal of one-term President Trump, marching him out of the oval office on Parade night. Taking his “I always win’ mentality in their stride, expect a true spectacle, complete with an appearance by Trump himself, in a baby’s diaper of course.

Trikone Australia
Founded in 2007, Trikone Australia is a non-profit, volunteer-led social-support organisation for LGBTQI+ people of South Asian descent living in Australia. Always delivering with colourful and out there costumes, the key message of Trikone’s entry will be rise and the uplifting of everyone on the LGBTQI+ spectrum.

Emerald City Kickball
Emerald City Kickball is Sydney’s newest LGBTQI+ inclusive community sports league and first-time Parade entrant. Their Parade entry will be celebrating Sydney’s unique and underappreciated bird life – the bin chicken and bush turkey! Where wider society sees trash munching, Emerald City see resilience and resourcefulness. Where others laugh at their gangly legs and oddly proportioned faces, Emerald City see fabulous adornment!

Trans Pride Australia
Trans Pride Australia’s aim is to foster a sense of belonging and empower trans and gender diverse people across Australia. This year Trans Pride Australia’s entry will celebrate with a concept devoted to self-empowerment, including costumes of gloves, headwear and parasols lit up with colourful LED lighting.

KathnJen are a self-described “couple of grumpy old lesbians” who always deliver stand out Parade floats. This year, in honour of the horror 2020 presented, their float will provide a tongue in cheek look at the pandemic with western style cowboy COVID Marshalls decked out in a mash up of high-vis vests mixed with chaps, facemasks and cowboy hats.

The 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is proudly supported by the City of Sydney, Government Partner and Sponsor of the Mardi Gras Festival and the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.

Watch the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras live on Saturday 6 March from 6pm AEDT on SBS On Demand, or catch the full Parade at 7:30pm AEDT on SBS and NITV.