More than 300,000 people turned out in a fabulous sea of rainbow colour for the 41st Sydney Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night.
Under the theme “fearless”, the 2019 parade featured 12,500 people on 200 floats marching, dancing and flaunting colourful costumes down the streets of central Sydney to celebrate all things LGBTQI.
Giant “respect” pot plants, an oversized yak, golden angels and, of course, a whole lot of rainbow were part of the parade, with a range of floats — with people from all over the world — celebrated the LGBTQI community.
The music of Queen, PNAU, Daft Punk and every kind of remix of John Farnham’s You’re the Voice reverberated through the city’s gay district.
Kylie Minogue made a brief appearance with an ensemble of dancers clad in white shirts, gold cowboy hats and red scarfs.
— Sydney Mardi Gras (@sydneymardigras) March 2, 2019
The iconic pop darling, wearing a gold one-shouldered dress, waved to cheering crowds — hugged some — and exited the parade as quickly and suddenly as she entered.
The start of the parade was marked by an Indigenous smoke ceremony, the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders had formally welcomed revellers.
The Dykes on Bikes then revved up the crowd, as they do every year around 7:00pm, as 100 motorcycles roared down Oxford Street, warming the pavement for the floats to follow.
The First Nation floats were among the first to greet the crowd and were followed by LGBTQI representatives from hundreds of corporate, sporting, government and charity entities.
The atmosphere of this year’s parade seemed more relaxed, one year after same-sex marriage passed in Federal Parliament.
However, organisers said there were more political displays this year — state Coalition vote posters were featured on the Liberal Party’s floats — to coincide with an election year.
About an hour in, State Opposition Leader Michael Daley and federal Labor MP Anthony Albanese stopped and posed for photographers.
As the Labor members grouped, a tall man in drag photobombed them by laying at their feet, sparking laughter from the crowd.
Earlier in the day, keen punters had lined up along the Oxford Street barricades — some since the morning — to get the best vantage point to watch the parade.
Olivia Cepeda, 16, said she was excited to be at her first Mardi Gras and parading with a Latin American Australian group.
“I’m with a great group who make me feel really comfortable,” she said.
For her, the fearless theme meant “you can be whoever you want to be without the fear of being judged”.
“Everyone has the right to be themselves,” she said.
Mardi Gras chief executive Terese Casu said the theme was the perfect sentiment for this year’s parade, as a way of celebrating what the community had achieved.
“But that word, fearless, also has a vulnerability to it,” she said.
“It’s about embracing that we are fearless if we say we’re not OK, or if we need help or stand up for someone else.”
This year’s parade comes as Sydney Mardi Gras confirmed it is bidding to host the World Pride event for 2023.
The bi-annual festival will be held in New York in July and Copenhagen in 2021.
The parade officially concluded at 11:00pm and Sydney’s lockout laws were relaxed across venues in Oxford Street and the Darlinghurst area for the parade.
Last drinks, however, were called at 3:00am for most establishments.