The Best Parties at Sydney Mardi Gras 2018

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, Oxford Street Sydney 2014
Picture of Tom Smith
Updated: 22 January 2018
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The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras hosts plenty more parties that just the big parade on Saturday 3 March. Check out our pick of the eight biggest bashes you can find around the Harbour City during the 40th anniversary Mardi Gras festival in 2018.

Mardi Gras Party

This Mardi Gras party is so big its known simply as the Mardi Gras Party, and its headline performer is so huge she’s known simply by one name: Cher. Tickets to this parade night after-party were snapped up faster than you could sing ‘Do you believe in life after love?’ – the moment the 71-year-old gay icon confirmed her appearance at Australia’s largest LGBTQI party, following in the footsteps of fellow megastars Boy George, Kylie Minogue, George Michael, Cyndi Lauper and RuPaul. More than 12,000 partygoers will dance until dawn at Moore Park to Cher’s greatest hits as well as a bumper line-up of exciting local DJs.


What began with a stereo and a couple of milk crates in a quiet Darlinghurst laneway has evolved into one of the highlights of the Mardi Gras program, attracting some top-drawer DJs for the ultimate post-parade recovery party. Neighbouring Darlinghurst watering holes the Beresford and the Flinders Hotel join forces for Laneway the Sunday following the big night, helping revellers cure their hangovers with a few schooners of hair-of-the-dog on Sunday 4 March.

Stonewall Hotel Mardi Gras Night

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Stonewall Hotel
Stonewall Hotel | Courtesy of Stonewall
Named after the legendary New York original and perched right on Taylor Square, Stonewall offers arguably the best vantage point of the parade on Saturday 3 March. Sydney’s premier gay and lesbian venue will be pumping across all three levels on the parade night — complete with drag hosts and dancing boys until late — and will also be lively right throughout the two weeks of the Mardi Gras festival.
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From legendary gay bars to iconic independent retailers, Darlinghurst’s Oxford St is Sydney’s ‘Pink Mile’. And on Saturday 24 February, Oxtravanganza celebrates this unique cultural hub with a street party brimming with DJs, entertainment, window displays, burlesque dancers, live bands and stacks of other free events. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Twenty10, an organisation that supports vulnerable young LGBTQI people around Sydney.

Pool Party

Squeeze in to your smartest pair of Speedos for the wettest party in the Mardi Gras program. The exclusive Ivy Pool Club — Sydney’s only rooftop pool bar — comes alive with the Mardi Gras pool party on Monday 26 February, when its poolside cabanas will be filled with even more glamorous party-goers.

Ivy Pool Club, 4/320 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Ivy pool | Courtesy of Merivale

Ivy pool | Courtesy of Merivale

Heartbreaker Sydney

The all-female DJ line-up — DJ Sveta, Cunningpants, DJ Kate Monroe, DJ Amanda Louise and New York’s Whitney Day — will have two floors of the Oxford Hotel rocking the night before the parade. Heartbreaker Sydney has teamed up with Lemons with a Twist to throw a fresh, fun and fierce dance party on Friday 2 March, kicking off a glitter-filled weekend of celebrations in style.

Oxford Hotel, 134 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Trevor Ashley’s Mardi Gala

Drag artist Trevor Ashley is Mardi Gras royalty so it’s only fitting he’s given the stage of the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall for this gala evening on Saturday 17 February. Showman Todd McKenney, singers Paul Capsis and Casey Donovan, comic Joel Creasey and the legendary Carlotta will thrill the crowd before a post-show party with the stunning Sydney Harbour for a backdrop.

The Sydney Opera House lights up rainbow for Mardi Gras
© Courtesy of Ann-Marie Calilhanna/Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Sissy Ball

Redfern’s Carriageworks will be transformed into a dance floor inspired by New York’s underground ballroom scene on Saturday 24 February, pulsing with a soundtrack of house, disco and pop that’s almost as diverse as the crowd that it will attract. Local artist and trans icon Bhenji Ra is curating the event, which owes its name to a term of endearment and sisterhood used by Asian and Pacific queer communities.

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