From 24 February to 5 March, Sydney’s famous ‘gaybourhood’ streets will come alive with street dining, free performances and celebrations at Sydney WorldPride’s festival hub, Pride Villages.
Free to attend thanks to funding from the NSW Government, Crown and Riley Streets will become home to daily stalls, dining and bars, with Crown Street also hosting the Travel Proud Stage presented by Booking.com, featuring performances from local and international talent, including iconic Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst, self-love superstars Big Thick Energy and Australia’s Queen of Cabaret, Trevor Ashley.
Conchita Wurst said: “I am so excited to be part of Sydney WorldPride and cannot wait to spread all the happiness that I already feel knowing that soon I will be back Down Under!”
On 4 to 5 March, the final weekend of Sydney WorldPride, Oxford Street, will be transformed into a street party to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. During both days of the all-ages Oxford Street Party, the American Express Oxford Street Stage will feature free performances by Australian talents including Vassy, HANDSOME, Haiku Hands and Chela.
On the final weekend, a Community Hub will be open on Oxford Street. Run by community organisations, the hub and will be a place for community members to engage and connect with a range of LGBTQIA+ organisations.
During Oxford Street Party, a Community Hub will be open on Oxford Street for the final weekend of the festival. The hub will be run by community organisations and will be a place for community members to engage with issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community.
Minister for the Arts and Tourism Ben Franklin said the Pride Villages, funded by the NSW Government, would create hubs of joy, vibrancy and inclusivity where all were welcome to celebrate the largest Pride festival in the world.
“The NSW Government is proud to support Sydney WorldPride and we welcome everyone to the Pride Villages to take the rainbow-coloured party to the streets for nine days of WorldPride,” Mr Franklin said.
“Pride Villages will create a vibrant festival atmosphere, giving the 78,000 expected visitors to Sydney free and open spaces to gather, celebrate and enjoy the festival.”
More than 20 local businesses – including much-loved shops and venues the Riley Hotel on Riley Street, the Burdekin and Stonewall on Oxford Street, and High Heels on Crown Street – will extending their footprint onto the street to allow patrons additional space to connect with friends and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
Sydney WorldPride’s beverage partners including Little Creatures, Johnnie Walker, Absolut, Squealing Pig and Archie Rose will also have pop up bars for visitors and locals alike to enjoy.
Kate Wickett, Chief Executive of Sydney WorldPride, said: “Pride Villages will be the heart of the Sydney WorldPride, taking place in the spiritual home of Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community.
“Pride Villages is the realisation of a vision we have had from the outset – to bring together the LGBTQIA+ community, Sydneysiders, visitors, businesses and performers, in an inclusive experience for everyone.”
Pride Villages has been made possible thanks to a $3.5million grant from the NSW Government.
The City of Sydney supported the activation of Pride Villages with funding of $300,000, bringing its total backing of Sydney WorldPride to $1.7 million in financial and value-in-kind support.
Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore, said: “We have been working hard to ensure that the Oxford Street precinct is vibrant, accessible and active during WorldPride, including funding the Pride Villages program to help activate vacant Oxford Street shopfronts and adding colour with street banners, Living Colour floral displays and the wonderful murals on the northern side of Oxford Street.
“We look forward to Oxford Street and surrounds buzzing with rainbow activity, especially the closure of Oxford Street for a two-day street party to mark the end of WorldPride.”
Richie Haines, Chief Operating Officer at Universal Hotels, said: “The activation of Pride Villages for Sydney WorldPride is fantastic not just for the Oxford Street neighbourhood and its businesses, but for the whole city!
“The whole Universal Hotels team is looking forward to Sydney taking its mantle as a truly global city across the festival period – and Pride Villages will be a big part of that.”
Paul Nicolaou, Executive Director of Business Sydney, said: “Pride Villages and the Sydney WorldPride festival more broadly will provide a much-needed boost to small businesses, including bars, restaurants, and tourism operators. This injection will also stimulate the local economy and help attract more visitors and customers to our city.”
Naysla Edwards, Vice President Brand, Marketing and Member Experience at American Express said: “As Principal Partner of Sydney WorldPride and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, we’re so proud to support the reinvigoration of key ‘gaybourhood’ streets throughout the festival period. We know so many of these businesses have experienced hardship over the last few years and we look forward to seeing the vibrancy return. We’re bringing to life the Shop Small Village within Pride Villages to encourage people to shop local and enjoy the offerings from some of Sydney’s most cherished small businesses. Additionally, our takeover of The Oxford Hotel, Amex House, will be a space that invites locals and visitors to come and celebrate and connect.”
Arjan Dijk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com said: “At Booking.com, we believe everyone should be able to experience the world as themselves, always. Travel is about broadening horizons, adventure and new experiences, which we all deserve to enjoy. We look forward to welcoming people from around the world to the Booking.com Travel Proud Stage on Crown Street and celebrating a return to more inclusive travel in Australia.”
AMERICAN EXPRESS SHOP SMALL VILLAGE AND AMEX HOUSE
On the final weekend (4 to 5 March), guests can visit the American Express Shop Small Village within Pride Villages where 18 small businesses will showcase an array of products for purchase.
Additionally, Amex House at The Oxford Hotel will be open throughout Sydney WorldPride and the Mardi Gras festival period, from Friday 17 February to Sunday 5 March 2023. Welcome to everyone, Amex House will have a schedule of events, such as drag performances, DJ sets and dance events.
Be sure to visit Amex House on the 28 February when complimentary MECCA MAX Express Makeovers will be on offer and there will be a surprise performance in the evening from an iconic Australian talent.