The weekend of Saturday March 5 – Sunday March 6 is huge for Sydney in terms of major public events.
As detailed in our previous blog, Sunday is Clean Up Australia Day, not just in Sydney but all over Australia, with approximately one million concerned and environmentally conscious citizens expected to participate in our nation’s largest annual community event.
On Saturday night, the 44th annual LGBTQ+ Sydney Mardi Gras Parade will be held and for the second year in succession, the organisers have adopted a COVID safe approach.
From the year of its inception (1978) to 2019, the parade featured a spectacular march along Sydney’s iconic Oxford Street in Darlinghurst.
In 2020, the event was cancelled owing to COVID (which had first reared its ugly head in Australia just a few weeks earlier), while last year Mardi Gras was a celebration of 36,000 spectators, who packed into the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) for the official parade, where approximately 4,000 people marched.
There were no floats….marchers were capped at 40 per group….and social distancing was well policed.
Authorities and organisers praised the LGBTQ+ community for what they described as a “peaceful celebration” - and there were no reports of COVID outbreaks spreading from the event.
With life slowly returning to some kind of normality as COVID numbers continue to fall in New South Wales in the early months of this year, many would have presumed that the Mardi Gras may resume its ‘old’ format.
But again in 2022, the ticketed event will be held at the SCG - this year with 5,800 marchers across 161 parade entries and with 40,000 spectators predicted.
Organisers took an early decision to schedule the Mardi Gras for the Sydney Cricket Ground as the event takes several months to plan and with the uncertainty surrounding COVID towards the end of last year, there was no certainty at the time that a street parade would have been permitted to proceed.
Mardi Gras CEO Alex Kruger explained: “Our priority with planning for the 2022 parade was ensuring that we could once again deliver a safe event.
“The parade is too important to the community to risk having to cancel so when decisions needed to be made late last year, the SCG was the best option for us to guarantee that we could come together to keep the spirit of Mardi Gras’ history of protest and celebrating shining bright in 2022.
“What we do know is that we can stage an incredible and safe parade at the SCG.
Plans are for the Mardi Gras to return to Oxford Street for its 45th anniversary in 2023.
Since 2009, the Mardi Gras Parade is estimated to have generated close to $400 million in total visitor revenue and it continues to promote Sydney to millions of potential visitors.
Heading the entertainment for this year’s Mardi Gras will be celebrated singer-songwriter Darren Hayes, best known as the frontman of Savage Garden, one of Australia’s most successful bands of the 1990’s.
Other notable entertainers who will appear include Vanessa Amorosi, The Wiggles, Moju, Timothy Springs and Prinnie Stevens.
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Director Richard Dargham said this week: “For over 40 years the Mardi Gras parade has been an iconic Sydney event, generating tens of millions of dollars annually for the local economy and attracting visitors from all over Australia and internationally.
“Full credit to the organisers for going down the COVID safe path again this year and holding the march at the SCG.
“The weather in Sydney hasn’t been too kind over recent days but hopefully the skies will be clear on Saturday night and that the event will be a huge success, as it is each and every year.”