2023 will see the first ever WorldPride hosted in the Southern Hemisphere – in the spectacular city of Sydney, no less.
A not-for-profit festival set to be an annual event from now on, this year’s blockbuster celebrations will incorporate Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which has been taking place in Sydney since 1978.
2023 Sydney WorldPride also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first Australian Gay Pride Week and will feature exhibitions, concerts, theater, and incredible parties. Expect a calendar full of varied events taking place over two weeks in February and March in one of the most welcoming cities for LGBTQIA+ travelers in not only Australia, but also the world.
While emphasizing the work of queer First Nations artists, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras also acknowledges that its events take place on Aboriginal land: “We acknowledge the Gadigal, Cammeraygal, Bidigal, Darug, and Dharawal people who are the Traditional Custodians of the Sydney Basin.”
Learn about Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ history
On the evening of Saturday, June 24, 1978, the original Mardi Gras marchers began to gather in Taylor Square, Sydney. This small group was hoping to contribute to global celebrations and offer solidarity to international activists around the Stonewall anniversary. As they walked and danced toward Hyde Park bearing inspirational banners and playing gay liberation anthems, they were met by the NSW Police.
Despite issuing a permit for the march, the police rushed the crowd down the street and as they reached the park, confiscated the revelers’ small sound system. The group continued to Kings Cross when the police descended and began to make arrests. The ensuing police violence made this a defining night in Sydney’s GLBTQI community and in Australia’s cultural heritage, laying the groundwork for the first Mardi Gras.
Soon after, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper published the names, occupations, and addresses of all those arrested – causing many to lose their jobs, homes, and families. There were more protests and arrests in the following months as the authorities attempted to suppress the community.
But by 1979, the NSW Parliament repealed the legislation that allowed for the arrests to be made, and thousands marched in an incident-free repeat of the parade that year. With the addition of the post-parade party, growing media coverage, and support from the mid-80s, the event began to draw in huge numbers of international tourists and millions in revenue for the NSW economy.
Today, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of Australia’s most famous annual events. In 2023, it will morph into the first ever WorldPride to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.
Represent at these events
2023 Sydney WorldPride will be a celebration of the city’s rich history of activism and protest while also celebrating Australia's queer community, with the theme of the event being “Gather. Dream. Amplify.”
The festival “acknowledges the traditional custodians of Australia, the oldest surviving culture on the planet, and invites us to work together to create change and a long-lasting legacy for all our communities. We welcome LGBTQIA+ people from across the globe to honor our elders and communities, acknowledge our connections, and empower each other to celebrate together in new ways.”
With a colorful and open-minded vibe of events past, this year is bound to be a spectacular and joyous celebration of diversity. Expect a parade taking over the city’s streets and attracting hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic revelers. Get swept up in the excitement as the decadent floats move through the city.
The 45th anniversary of the event, 2023 will see Kylie Minogue as a headline act. There will also be theater, performances, and parties—check out the Bondi Beach Party on Saturday, March 4 in particular—for you to enjoy while wandering the festive streets on balmy Sydney summer nights.
Explore the city’s queer culture
In the Darlinghurst area, Oxford Street began establishing itself as the beating heart of Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ scene as far back as the mid-20th century. Today, it’s brimming with cafés, restaurants, cocktail bars, and nightclubs.
For 2023 Sydney WorldPride, parts of the Oxford Street neighborhood will become “Pride Villages.” For ten days starting February 24, parts of Crown St. and Riley St. will become pedestrian to host an array of these “villages,” which will include stalls, performances, dining, and Booking.com’s own Travel Proud stage.
Travel Proud accommodations
For those attending WorldPride’s three-day LGBTQIA+ Human Rights Conference at Sydney’s ICC (March 1-3), Little National Hotel Sydney is a beautiful stay within walking distance of the event.
Enjoy stunning Sydney harbor views at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel Circular Quay, or relax by the pool.
Stay in the lap of luxury right by Hyde Park at the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park.
LGBTQIA+ Sydney businesses
For those looking to support local LGBTQIA+-run businesses while in town, there are many great options to choose from in Sydney. To start your visit, go on a tour with Planetdwellers, Australia’s unrivaled LGBTQIA+ travel agency and tour operator offering walking or bus tours, cruises, and tailored trips.
For refreshment in the LGBTQIA+-friendly neighborhood of Darlinghurst, the dainty Japanese cafe Sandoitchi won’t disappoint – don’t miss the mouthwatering Chicken Katsu Salad Sando with an Iced Matcha. For souvenirs, you can’t go wrong with Provocator, a boutique that champions futuristic fashion with all garments handmade in Australia. For something even more long-lasting, head to Thanks Tattoo, where you’ll find creative and highly skilled resident tattoo artists.
Unleash your dancing queen
On weekends, Crown Street in the Surry Hills/Oxford Street area will be home to a stage with nightly shows and special extended entertainment. For the final weekend of Sydney WorldPride, Oxford Street will be closed all the way from Liverpool Street to Flinders Street for an unforgettable street party.
For a night out at some of Sydney’s best known LGBTQIA+ venues, try the Imperial Hotel. This pub has been popular with queer communities since the 80s and was the starting point of the bus journey in “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
Or head to Universal, a bar/nightclub where you can see drag nights every night of the week and enjoy cocktails, DJs, and dancing. The Stonewall Hotel in Darlinghurst—named after the historic Stonewall Inn in NYC—is another Sydney LGBTQIA+ hub, split over multiple stories and offering drag shows, dance floors, and several bars.
Get in the mood with the ultimate Pride playlist.