Rainbow flag marks start of Mardi Gras

City of Sydney

The 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras season has officially begun with the raising of the rainbow flag above Sydney Town Hall this evening.

The international symbol for LGBTIQ pride will fly above Sydney Town Hall throughout the Mardi Gras celebrations until Sunday 7 March.

The City of Sydney is a major sponsor and supporter of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the 2021 Mardi Gras theme, RISE, celebrates resilience and strength in a year of challenge and hardship.

“We didn’t know it at the time, but last year’s Mardi Gras parade was the last major event held before we went into lockdown, to protect each other from Covid-19,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“One weekend we were laughing, dancing and kissing on Oxford Street, and in an instant, life was drained from our city.”

“I’m delighted that Mardi Gras can proceed this year, to celebrate our community’s resilience in the face of 2020’s challenges and build hope for the coming year.

“While some Mardi Gras celebrations will look different this year to ensure they are Covid-safe, the City is proud to once again participate in the parade, fly the rainbow flag above Town Hall and fill our city streets with rainbow banners.

“As we work to revitalise the city centre and recover from the economic, cultural and social impacts of the pandemic, safe, inclusive and accessible events such as Mardi Gras will be crucial to our recovery and help breathe life back into Sydney.”

For the 16th consecutive year, City of Sydney staff will take part in the Mardi Gras parade. A ‘Love Sydney’ themed entry will feature 40 staff dressed in candy pink costumes and performing a choreographed routine to Jessica Mauboy’s We Got Love.

While some events were unable to proceed and others needed to be modified, the City has been working closely with Mardi Gras event organisers to ensure a wonderful celebration of equality, inclusion, diversity and resilience.

Together with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the City is working on ways to support local businesses at this traditionally busy time and to ensure Oxford Street is a focal point throughout the two-week festival.

Around 150 Mardi Gras banners will line Oxford Street and William Street in Darlinghurst and Paddington – two key thoroughfares leading into the city.

Oxford Street will also play host to Oxtravaganza, a two-week program of music, art and live performances. Led by the Darlinghurst Business Partnership and supported by the City, Oxtravaganza will run from Saturday 20 February to Sunday 7 March to help support and promote Oxford Street precinct retailers, bars, restaurants and clubs and celebrate the local community during Mardi Gras.

Oxtravaganza will bring together local performers, producers and curators, and include in-venue performances of drag and cabaret, author’s talks and Mardi Gras parade viewing parties. On Saturday 27 February, shops, restaurants, bars and clubs will participate in Shop Till You Drop, a one-day buy local campaign with special deals, indoor events and discounts.

On Saturday and Sunday 6-7 March, a range of restaurants, pubs and cafes in Surry Hills will offer picnic menus all weekend. Led by the Surry Hills Creative Precinct and supported by a City of Sydney grant, ‘Picnic Surry Hills’ will include The Winery, The Clock, Paddock on Crown and The Shakespeare.

And just in time for this year’s festival, the City this week unveiled a 90-metre rainbow footpath at Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills. Running alongside the recently renamed Equality Green, the rainbow footpath honours the moment in 2017 when 30,000 people gathered on the lawn to hear the results of Australia’s marriage equality postal survey.

“In 2017, 30,000 of us gathered at Prince Alfred Park to hear the results of the marriage equality postal survey. We were anxious, scared, excited, hopeful. On that day, love won,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“To commemorate the moment, we renamed that area of the park Equality Green, and now, it lies over a rainbow.

“I hope those who walk our new rainbow path reflect on how far we’ve come, and the distance yet to travel toward equality for LGBTIQ communities.”

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