Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the world’s greatest gay gatherings. It strikes the perfect balance between politics and partying, with some truly iconic clubs based around a theme that is not afraid to pay homage to the struggles of the past.

Celebrating it’s landmark 35th Anniversary this year with ‘Generations of Love’, this year promises to pack a mighty punch in terms of both spectacular clubs and a powerful message.

The city itself is a phenomenal gay destination, sun-soaked, plentiful beaches, great food, a diverse international population and some fantastic clubs. But be prepared to spend, as nothing comes cheap, even by London standards. So, without further ado, here’s your essential guide to the best of Mardi Gras 2013 events.




The Parade has come a long way since 1978, when community figures took to the streets with placards and banners, on the 10th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Nowadays, it’s a glittering display of everything gay, with almost 10,000 people taking part and hundreds of thousands viewing. The city comes to a standstill as the dazzling, shimmering throngs make their way through Sydney’s central streets. The Parade follows Oxford and Flinders Streets – check the website for further info.

Club Tropicana is a party at the finale of the parade, the epicenter of the action, taking over Taylor Square with cocktails and music. But capacity is strictly limited and tickets must be booked in advance.

For a VIP experience check out the GlamStand, with food, reserved seating and it’s own line up of entertainment – the ultimate way to experience the Parade.  



The biggest and most spectacular of the Mardi Gras after-parties, spread over seven high production ‘lands’; it’s an experiential, sensational club party with headline DJs and performers from all over the world. House heavyweights Wayne G, Bimbo Jones, Zoe Badwi (‘Release Me’) and Garcon Garcon joined by more commercial acts including Heather Small from M People, Delta Goodrem (probably mainly know in the UK for her role in Neighbours), and ‘DJ Crystal Pepsi’ (Jake Shears’s new pseudonym). The event caters for a whopping 17,000 people, a gay festival within Mardi Gras itself. Advance ticket purchase is a must as they will sell out.



Stalwart of the Sydney scene, and probably the biggest and busiest of the gay clubs, ARQ throws a massive Mardi Gras party each year with all-star local resident DJs joined by international guests across two massive arenas. The lighting and sound packs a powerful punch with an international crowd soaking in pumping house and commercial anthems.



The hugely popular day-club is back at Chinese Laundry club, with four dance spaces including a huge outdoor terrace which gets absolutely packed in the sun. Local DJs are joined by guests including scene superstar Wayne G, UK producers E-Squire and DJ Lee Dagger from house music duo Bimbo Jones. This party has a definite pumping London vibe, both musically and in terms of talent. Daywash is followed by SpinOut after party at Cargo – just a hop, skip and a jump away. 



Perhaps the iconic party of Mardi Gras each year, the Harbour Party takes place in the Botanic Gardens with a stunning backdrop looking over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. As afternoon turns to evening the atmosphere steps up with headline DJs David Morales and Moto Blanco joined by locals including the super-talented Alex Taylor. Practically unrivaled the world over.  



An oasis of (relatively) calm in a sea of turbocharged parties, the Pool Party takes over one of Sydney’s premier club spaces, the Ivy. The venue has to be seen to be believed – clearly money was not an issue when this place was built, as attention to detail, class and sophistication ooze from every fixture while Sydney’s hottest toned bodies and scene elite mingle and schmooze.  


• Check for a full list of official Mardi Gras parties and more info on the Parade, cultural events and lots more.