Australia

Cher wows 40th annual Mardi Gras parade as huge crowd celebrates in Sydney

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Cher had been rumoured to make an appearance during Sydney's Mardi Gras parade and the gay icon arrived on Saturday to the tune of Turn Back Time.

Pop superstar Cher joined revellers in Sydney on Saturday as hundreds of thousands of people celebrated the 40th annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.

Cher was the headline act for the Mardi Gras after-party and had been rumoured to make an appearance during the parade on Saturday night.

The gay icon arrived to the tune of Turn Back Time, sporting bright orange hair and a low-cut black top with a silver-embroided jacket.

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She joined Malcolm Turnbull for a selfie as the prime minister joined his wife Lucy at the parade.

Mr Turnbull described the parade as a "wonderful part of Sydney".

"It's 40 years old and 40 years ago Lucy and I had our first date so our love affair is a result of Mardi Gras," Mr Turnbull said.

Hundreds of thousands of people lined Oxford Street as the city transformed with colour and glitter for the parade.

The celebration was expected to attract a record crowd of nearly half a million people as organisers took the chance to look back on defining moments in the event's history.

About 200 floats made their way up the popular strip from 7pm, including a group of 250 people who were involved in the original 1978 demonstration and subsequent riot.

More than 12,000 people took part in this year's parade, including Maude Boate, who travelled from Broken Hill in far west NSW.

"It's about my 30th Mardi Gras," she told AAP in Sydney on Saturday.

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Partygoers prepare for Mardi Gras parade

"It's a wonderful night and what a wonderful milestone it is for equality."

For Kobie Howe and Katrina Stouppos, it was the first time they have been able to celebrate Mardi Gras as a legally married couple in Australia.

"This year we are marching with marriage equality, it's an important year given what's happened last year," Ms Howe told AAP.

"It's a great time to celebrate everyone's individuality, differences and diversity."

The couple, who have been together for eight years, brought along their four-year-old daughter Mackie.

When asked what Mardi Gras meant to her, Mackie simply answered "marriage equality".

More than 1000 police officers kept a close eye on revellers as part of a huge security operation that also involved strategically parked vehicles, an intelligence crew, mounted police, the riot squad and sniffer dogs.

Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell urged partygoers to look out for one another.

"Police have been working with parade organisers and the LGBTIQ community to ensure a safe and fun night for all those taking part and supporting the event," he said on Saturday.

Some of the other highlights of the night included a giant champagne bottle to be popped at Taylor Square and a same-sex wedding ceremony during the parade.

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