The newest festival in Central Australia’s festival calendar has kicked things off in spectacular style with splashes of colour, glitter, music and drag queens galore in the heart of Alice Springs.
The inaugural Fab-Alice Mardi Gras parade made its way through the centre of town down the Todd Mall which had been transformed into a large chalk rainbow canvas by locals.
The parade, which was Attended by a crowd of over a thousand and led by the Northern Territory Police force, the parade and also starred Sydney-based drag queen, Marzi Panne, and Indigenous queens, Miss Ellaneous and Miss First Nation 2018 winner, Lasey Dunaman.
Other members of the local community came out to take part in the parade including the Mparntwe Queers and staff from the Crowne Plaza Lasseters Hotel, a hotel synonymous with the film, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
The party continued after the parade with a drag queen performance watched by hundreds, followed by drag-race activities which included families dressing up in frocks and make-up while racing for a finish line holding cocktails.
Organisers said they were thrilled with the size of the crowd, who turned out despite the 38 degree heat.
Andy Lopez, one of the organisers, said he couldn’t believe that success of the event only six months after the idea was hatched.
“To see the engagement from so many groups, whether it be government, police and council. But also the Alice Springs community in general, in such a short period of time, has been fantastic,” he said.
“When the festival began it had long term goals, sort of for a small fun drag and cabaret festival, but it's rapidly grown into something much larger than that, and it’ll continue to grow. It was a festival that we didn’t have grand aspirations of, at first, but it’s really struck a chord with the town.”
Mr Lopez said he could see how proud the Indigenous community were to have Lasey come and perform.
“it was very important to her to be here in Alice as Miss First Nation, and it was a big moment not just for her, but also for the crowd. It was one of the lovely heart-and-soul moments of the festival so far.”
Alice Springs mayor Damien Ryan said the event was a natural fit for the city, and would have a "very, very bright future".
“Look we are a very diverse town here in Alice Springs and the fact that people have turned out and are enjoying themselves, you can’t measure that. But of course it’s brought people i to the town too. The idea is that we will keep running the festival the week after (Sydney’s) Mardi Gras, and we hope, over the years, to attract more and more people. Alice Springs lives on events," he said.
After six-months of planning, Fab-Alice was officially launched a month ago by the mayor and Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor, Linda Scott, at the Imperial hotel in Sydney – a location synonymous with 'Priscilla'. The idea for the event was inspired by this year’s 25th anniversary of the film.
The inaugural festival will run for three days, with festivities concluding on Sunday with a large pool party and a screening of the film near The Gap.