Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras returns to Sydney Cricket Ground

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will be returning to the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2022 due to the ongoing effects of Covid-19.

Organisers have locked in the dates for the 2022 celebrations with the festival running from 18th February through to the 6th March 2022. The iconic parade will take place on Saturday 5th March.

Initially the relocation of the parade to the SCG was intended for just one year, but the ongoing effects of Covid-19 have required it to stay away from it’s traditional home on Oxford street.

Albert Kruger, the CEO of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras said safety was the organisation’s top priority.

“Our priority with planning for next year’s Parade was ensuring we can once again deliver a safe event,” Kruger said.

“There’s still uncertainty of what March is going to look like for us. Mardi Gras can’t guarantee that in the next few months things will be back to normal and we can safely have hundreds of thousands spectators on the streets.

“The Parade is too important to the community to risk having to cancel. So right now, when decisions need to be made, the SCG is the best option for us to guarantee that we can come together to keep the spirit of Mardi Gras’ history of protest and celebration shining bright in 2022.

“What we do know is that we can stage an incredible and safe Parade in the SCG,” said Kruger.

Keeping the event at the SCG allows organisers to scale up, or down, the number of people who can attend the event, something that would not be possible if it was staged on Oxford Street.

While the parade is the highlight the fortnight long festival, organisers say their 2022 offering will be bigger and better than ever, featuring a packed program of events spanning theatre, visual arts, parties, community gatherings and panel discussions.

The 2022 Mardi Gras theme is UNITED WE SHINE, signifying that LGBTQI+ communities shine brighter together and by standing up against hate and inequality as a collective, the message of love and inclusion is heard louder.

“Our theme this year is a reminder of all that we can achieve when our communities rise as one. It is a call to stand united against the inequalities LGBTQI+ people continue to face, and empowers us with the strength that our history shows: that we have the power to create a more equitable society.” Kruger said.

“For over 40 years we have fought for equality, allowing us to live openly and authentically, free from stigma. A lot has changed for the better and the new generation of LGBTQI+ Australians are growing up in a more accepting time.

“The time to use our voices and rally together has never been more important than it is now. We need to be stronger together so that we can fight discrimination and move closer to a future of equality,” Kruger said.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras plans to bring the Parade back to Oxford Street for its 45th anniversary in 2023 as a feature of Sydney WorldPride, the first WorldPride held in the southern hemisphere.

Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the NSW Government’s support of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras underscored its commitment to make NSW a welcoming destination for all visitors.

“Mardi Gras is a celebration of NSW’s pride, diversity and inclusion, and we are immensely proud that it has become one of the largest and most successful LGBTQI+ events in the world,” Ayres said.

“Since 2009, the Mardi Gras Parade is estimated to have generated approximately $390 million in total visitor spend from intrastate, interstate and international visitors. The event is watched around the world and continues to promote Sydney and NSW to millions of potential visitors into the future.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore also voiced her support for the event, saying Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras were excelling by showing their adaptability.

“The City of Sydney is a proud, long-term supporter of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and I commend the organisation for continuing to adapt to the ongoing challenges presented by Covid over the past 18 months.

“Mardi Gras’ decision to return to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the 2022 Mardi Gras Parade is prudent given the uncertainty posed by the pandemic, which we will continue to face for some time yet.

“I am sure that the 2022 event will build on the success of this year’s spectacular parade. And I look forward to it being a successful curtain raiser to WorldPride in 2023, when I hope we can all return to celebrate on Oxford Street with Sydneysiders and visitors from around Australia and the world.” Moore said.

Tickets for the 2022 Mardi Gras Parade go on sale Monday 15 November.

Although there is a small price for general admission tickets to help cover the costs of operating a COVID-Safe event, a hardship ballot with 3,000 free Parade tickets has been set up to support those who are experiencing financial strain and cannot afford a ticket to Parade. Applications for the hardship ballot open on Monday 15 November.

78ers and Mardi Gras members will also receive two complimentary tickets to the Parade event.

It’s not known if Western Australians will have any opportunity to attend the 2022 event as Premier Mark McGowan is yet to make any announcement about when the border with New South Wales will be opened.

New South Wales is currently classed as a Extreme-risk jurisdiction. Western Australian residents would be unlikely to be able to return to the state, as access if currently only granted to Commonwealth and state officials, members of parliament, diplomats and people with extraordinary reasons to enter the state.

OIP Staff, image: Anna Kuchera

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