Thousands of revellers celebrated Mardi Gras in Sydney on Saturday night, with pictures showing scenes not witnessed in many other parts of the world since the coronavirus pandemic began.
A reported 5,000 people took part in the parade that was held inside the Sydney Cricket Ground to an audience of a further 36,000, with people seen tightly packed together without the need for social distancing or face masks.
Headline act British singer and superstar Rita Ora stole the show, and around the city countless more partied at pubs and bars, as Sydney’s state of New South Wales went 48 days without a local transmission of the virus.
The event is emblematic of Australia’s success at suppressing Covid-19, having seen just over 29,000 cases and 909 related deaths among a population of over 25 million people.
By contrast, western European countries including the U.K., France, Germany and Italy have all seen coronavirus cases rise into the millions and deaths in the tens-of-thousands, are are unlikely to see similar crowds for months.
Thousands of revellers celebrated Mardi Gras in Sydney on Saturday night, with pictures showing scenes not witnessed in many other parts of the world since the coronavirus pandemic began
The gleaming pageantry of the city’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade was not dulled by a Covid-forced venue change as marchers moved from the streets to the cricket stadium
Revellers usually line Sydney’s traditional parade route through the city’s LGBT hub, but due to Covid-19 concerns, the event was held inside the Sydney Cricket Ground to an audience of 36,000
Pictured: Rita Ora performs at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gra. The event is emblematic of Australia’s success at suppressing Covid-19, having seen just over 29,000 cases and 909 related deaths among a population of over 25 million people
The gleaming pageantry of the city’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade was not dulled by a Covid-forced venue change as marchers moved from the streets to the cricket stadium.
Revellers usually line the traditional parade route through the city’s LGBT hub, but due to Covid-19 concerns, the event was held inside the Sydney Cricket Ground to an audience of 36,000.
‘It is such an amazing event we’ve had this year, to really be together, to fight what we’ve had,’ Dr Bushan Joshi, who marched with other frontline health workers.
Joshi, one of the 5,000 parade participants, said it was amazing to see so many people together, safely celebrating at the SCG.
The usually boisterous street parade was corralled inside the sports ground in an attempt to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19.
But the tightly managed spectacle, filled with pyrotechnics, dazzling performances and speckled with corporate sponsors, was a far cry from the first 1978 protest, which ended in the violent arrest of activists on Oxford Street.
Revellers usually line the traditional parade route through the city’s LGBT hub, but due to Covid-19 concerns, the event was held inside the Sydney Cricket Ground to an audience of 36,000
Spectators are seen in the crowd ahead of the 43rd annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade at the SCG in Sydney, Australia, March 6
By contrast, western European countries including the U.K., France, Germany and Italy have all seen coronavirus cases rise into the millions and deaths in the tens-of-thousands, are are unlikely to see similar crowds for months
The usually boisterous street parade was corralled inside the sports ground in an attempt to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19, in Australia’s state that has not seen a case of coronavirus in 48 days
The parade celebrates queer people from different backgrounds including First Nations, Pacific Islander and other Indigenous communities
A large contingent of the original marchers took to the ground alongside several groups pushing for political change, including calls for transgender rights and an end to deaths of Indigenous Australians in police custody.
With the official parade moved off the streets, a separate protest of hundreds of activists instead took to the traditional route earlier in the day.
Organiser Charlie Murphy, from Pride in Protest, told AFP that street protest was an integral part of Mardi Gras, particularly important in the ongoing fight for rights across marginalised groups.
‘(Protest) should and always continue to be part of what Mardi Gras is, whether it’s in the parade or the broader festival for years to come,’ Murphy said.
Attendees celebrated the historic event by dressing in style, sharing kisses with loved ones and waving rainbow flags, pompoms and ribbons.
Parade-goers represented the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community in their costumes, which ranged from flowery pink bodysuits and low-cut leather vests to golden saris and flamboyant white feathers.
Headline act British singer and global superstar Rita Ora gets ready to perform for the cheerful crowds at Mardi Gras
Singer and I’m a Celebrity star Jack Vidgen, who identifies as gay, smiled broadly as he greeted fans during the parade
Purple Wiggle Jeff Fatt points his fingers and does the twist in support of the gay community on Saturday night
Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese (left), Labor Senator Kristina Keneally (centre) and Federal Member for Sydney Tanya Plibersek (right) wave as they pass through crowds
Actor Christian Wilkins sways his golden locks around and smiles as he bares his torso in a sparkly bralette and silver harem pants
The Gruen Transfer star and ad man Todd Sampson dressed down in a simple black tee while watching the Mardi Gras this year
Some people in the parade continued to protest, with one dressing up as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian trapped in a cage, wearing giant pearls and clutching the throat of a koala
Army members show off their marching skills as they walk across the green in their crisp-pressed and shapely uniforms
A gentleman appears to have done the weekly grocery shop before attending the parade, as he wears a short pink skirt, tiny wings and clear stilettos
Pretty in pink! Attendees snap a selfie as they enjoy the Mardi Gras 2021 celebrations at the Sydney Cricket Ground
This happy reveller enjoys a drink while watching the parade, dressed in glittery gold accessories and a see-through black top
A reveller in fishnet stockings and practical shoes puckers her lips for the the camera
An octopus floats above a procession of blue and orange people celebrating as they dance across the green grass of the Sydney Cricket Ground
Feathers galore as red hot dancers entertain admiring fans in flattering ensembles all the while rocking sky-high white heels
A pink Queen feigns flattery as admirers cheer her on as she sports a full-on fuschia gown and parades across the SCG
Former US President Donald Trump makes a surprising visit to this years Mardi Gras, wearing a ‘loser’ sashay and what appears to be a giant nappy
This partier bared all during the Dykes on Bike portion of the parade, showing off a tiger tattoo and making sure no one missed their spunky rainbow tie
Dressed in a smorgasbord of colourful feathers, jewels and silks, this Queen gives fans a very glittery, rainbow royal wave as she passes
This rider ballooned with pride as she paraded through the Sydney Cricket Ground in a low-cut vest on her bike covered in rainbows
Dykes on Bikes led the parade, zooming past cheering crowds rocking dark glasses, spiky hair and leather. Lots and lots of leather.
Māori queers celebrate their identity with shirts saying ‘Haka for Life’ and traditional tattoos, outfits and dances during the parade
Transgender rights activists wear the traditional trans flag colours of blue, white and pink to celebrate during this years Mardi Gras
Gorgeous girls pose for the camera in itty bitty bikini tops and glitter as they head to the SCG to celebrate Sydney queerdom
ANZ Bank staff wave to the cameras in shiny baby blue get-ups and silvery wigs, while brandishing their companies logo as they walk by
Even the men, women and others in blue were in on the fun on Saturday night, expressing support for queer members of the force and community
This parader was a flowery delight as they moved through the crowd, spreading well-scented seeds of love and acceptance
Organisers said the 2021 parade will move away from the traditional large floats, which moved down the street, and will instead focus on costumes, puppetry and props.
With the theme Rise, there will be 5000 in the parade from more than 100 LGBTQI community groups.
The SCG’s COVID-safe plan will be enforced and Mardi Gras organisers have encouraged revellers at the stadium to wear masks, even if not mandatory.
The 2021 parade begun with a welcome to country curated by Ben Graetz and a rousing performance from Electric Fields which pumped up the crowd who are ready for a night of partying and pride despite coronavirus restrictions.
As is tradition, Dykes of Bikes were the first out of the gate, revving up the crowd as they zoomed around in leather with the First Nations and 78ers floats close behind.
Queer South Asians celebrate the intersection of their LGBTQIA+ identity and their cultural heritage in striking blue and yellow outfits
Some butterfly-winged babes stand up to watch the paraders floating by, waving rainbow ribbons to celebrate the day of pride
Sistergirls dressed in black march across the grass carrying a sign that is reflecting the Mardi Gras theme for 2021, which is Rise
Stands are full of partygoers watching the floats passby in this years unusual Mardi Gras, where the usual parade has been moved to the SCG because of Covid restrictions
This year is especially unique as the usual roaming floats have been replaced with seated celebrations because of the Covid pandemic
The day begun with a protest on Oxford Street, as New South Wales made its first exemption to gathering restrictions for the demonstration.
‘This is a massive win for not only the right to protest but for the queer community to say that the fight against transphobia and homophobia cannot wait,’ activist group Pride in Protest said in a statement.
The regular annual Mardi Gras parade – which regularly draw over 10,000 participants and public crowds of at least 250,000 people was cancelled due to Covid concerns – and instead 30,000 people will gather for a ticketed event at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
All participants were subject to Covid guidelines such as wearing masks and social distancing, while dance floors around Sydney remain closed and non-official private parties around Sydney are limited to a maximum of 50 people.
The march began on Saturday afternoon ahead of the official Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, which was moved to the Sydney Cricket Ground due to Covid-19 regulations.
Revelling protesters assembled at Taylor Square and set off raising awareness about a range of issues including women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, the Religious Discrimination Bill, transgender rights, black deaths in custody and police brutality.
The green light from NSW Health meant a court showdown between activists and the police, who wanted the rally stopped, was called off at the last minute.
Pride in Protest approached Health Minister Brad Hazzard for an exemption to the 500-person limit on public gatherings on Thursday afternoon.
This pair shared an intimate kiss within the grounds, as the parade was started by a Welcome to Country and then rousing performances by musicians including Electric Fields
Three glamorous Mardi Gras attendees prove more is more as they show off in flamboyant feathers and gorgeous glittery outfits
Some joyous women celebrate under a rainbow flag and decorated with glitter as celebrations for Mardi Gras 2021 begin in Sydney
Sydney LGBTQI rights protesters kicked off the 2021 Mardi Gras celebrations with technicolour demonstrations along Oxford Street on Saturday afternoon
Revelling protesters assembled at Taylor Square and set off raising awareness about issues including women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, the Religious Discrimination Bill, transgender rights, black deaths in custody and police brutality
A marcher pairs a Covid safe mask with a glamorous jewelled tiara, chunky black necklace and a singlet with a big, furry leather bear
New South Wales Health granted organisers an exemption from gathering restrictions, the first such exemption granted in NSW, with organisers trumpeting the decision as a victory for protest rights
This Mardi Gras reveller dressed down to dress up for this year’s celebrations, sporting a transparent bodysuit and sky high stilettos
Many people turned up to protest in the lead up to the Mardi Gras Parade in 2021, demonstrating against various topics while displaying their pride for the queer community
‘This is a massive win for not only the right to protest but for the queer community to say that the fight against transphobia and homophobia cannot wait,’ activist group Pride in Protest said in a statement
A protester wearing bold red suspenders and brandishing a rainbow flag proudly, raises a fist during the march on Oxford Street
A gathering exemption for an Invasion Day rally in Sydney was refused earlier this year, but pride marchers showed their support for Indigenous rights during the protest on Saturday
These wild and proud marchers stripped down to enjoy the sun as they sit down during Mardi Gras celebrations on March 6
Mr Hazzard had previously refused an exemption for an Invasion Day rally in Sydney in January.
NSW MPs including Labor’s Jo Haylen and the Greens’ Jenny Leong wrote to Mr Hazzard over the pride rally, as did members of the ’78ers protest group, who started the Mardi Gras movement amid police violence.
Mr Hazzard agreed to the exemption on Friday morning after the group agreed to enhanced contact tracing processes. It has been 47 days since NSW recorded a locally-acquired coronavirus case.
But police have vowed to turn up in large numbers on Saturday, with officers to be deployed across Oxford Street, Hyde Park and Moore Park.
These revellers know a pride parade is not complete without cowboy hats, bumbag, skin tight rainbow leggings, nipple tassels and lots of bubbles
The Mardi Gras protests began with a gathering and speeches at Sydney’s Taylor Square
‘Trump-ette marching gurls’ Kevin Hardy (left) and Dejay Toborek (right) pose for a photo in front of a familiar-looking prop
A protester celebrates Mardi Gras on Saturday while wearing a colourful necklace that ends in an eight legged pride friend
Protesters marched against indefinite detention and Aboriginal deaths in custody
People dress up for Oxford Street celebrations, wearing clown-esque makeup and costumes, denim, leather and even an all-white ensemble complete with a very responsible mask and gloves
Pride in Protest spokesperson Toby Walmsley said the police’s plans were ‘onerous and unnecessary’.
‘Hopefully the police won’t get in our way tomorrow,’ Pride in Protest’s Evan Gray also said on Friday.
Meanwhile, the head of Sydney Mardi Gras defended the social justice credentials of the main event.
‘We’ve given every single float a 45-second dedicated spot on our broadcast to get their message across … it’s not just about walking around in fancy costumes, it’s a social justice event,’ Mardi Gras chief executive Albert Kruger told reporters.
Better than bin chickens: even though there is no official parade, 2021 Mardi Gras outfits have not disappointed
Marches holding a transgender rights flag
Revellers fan themselves as they walk through the heat
Sydney personality Danny Lim shows his support for the pride parade with his signs calling for respect and smiles for love
Members of the Greens Party joined the protest with rainbow coloured signs, bodysuits, masks and scarves
The Leichhardt Uniting Church shows support for transgender rights with a sign saying ‘We are all created lovingly & wonderfully, trans rights are human rights’
Mardi Gras protesters celebrated in style, matching their colourful hair, glamorous earrings, glitter, bold eyeshadow with Covid safe masks
Mr Kruger also said revellers should consider attending ticketed events and after parties or host gatherings of up to 50 people at home.
About 10,000 people are expected at the Mardi Gras parade at the SCG.
Ms Leong warned the government that if they thought the mobilisation around LGBTQI issues was big, ‘they have seen nothing’ compared to the women’s March For Justice planned for March 15.
Amnesty International campaigner Joel Mackay called on the NSW government to review the gathering cap to enable protests.
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