• The Little Black Dress Run charity event will be one of the returning highlights at next year's Mardi Gras festival. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival has released its 2016 guide. Here's a look at some of the LGBTI event highlights.
Drew Sheldrick

23 Nov 2015 - 12:55 PM  UPDATED 23 Nov 2015 - 12:55 PM

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras returns next year with a full festival of events in the run-up to the famous parade on March 5. Released last week, the program theme is 'Momentum', which will focus not only on the momentum for LGBTI rights locally, such as same-sex marriage, but also the global move towards equality.

Alongside the parade and numerous parties, events set to return next year include the Mardi Gras Film Festival, Fair Day, and forum event Queer Thinking. Gender Trailblazers, a night of conversation about issues facing the transgender community, will also be back. Gender counsellor and psychologist Dr Elizabeth Riley will host this year's event.

Australian drag performers Courtney Act and Trevor Ashley will join forces for Gentlemen Prefer Blokes, Seven-Year-Itch Reunion Tour. Act told SBS that she was looking forward to returning to the show, which she first performed with Ashley seven years ago in slightly different circumstances.

"I'd broken my leg at Gay Ski Week in Canada so I had to do the whole show in a wheelchair. It'll certainly be nice to come back to it fully mobile," she said.

The show is part of Mardi Gras' Rainbow Room, which will see the Sydney Opera House transformed into an LGBTI arts space during the festival, with a mix of comedy and cabaret.

Replacing the long-running Harbour Party will be a new event series on Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquarie’s Point, including cinema, concerts, talks and musical nights along Sydney Harbour. There'll be a "sing-a-long" screening of Mamma Mia with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir, and Tina Arena will perform a concert as part of the series - as well as a State Theatre show the day prior to the parade.

The work of photographer William Yang will feature in an exhibition that will run the length of the festival. William Yang: Stories of Love and Death will include several strands of Yang’s photography, with celebrity portaits of people like Brett Whiteley and Cate Blanchett alongside his historic Mardi Gras documentary work. 

2014 Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst will be joined by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to bring her new show From Vienna with Love to the Sydney Opera House. Wurst will be joined on stage by Courtney Act, Trevor Ashley and performer Paul Capsis.

Musician and actor iOTA (The Great Gatsby, Mad Max: Fury Road) will showcase some of his back catalogue of songs, as well as hits from his new album Wolf Number Nine, at the Oxford Art Factory.

Another musical highlight is the '80s-themed Mardi Gras Disco Climb. The ascent over Sydney Harbour Bridge will feature a retro track list and funky climb leader guides. The Little Black Dress Run will also return to Darling Harbour next year with a chance to frock up for a 3km run/walk in the name of charity.

In theatre, The Ultimate Lesbian Double Feature will run for two weeks during the festival at the Old Fitz Theatre. Described as a "hilariously raunchy double bill", it will explore what Sappho and Virginia Woolf may have "sexted" to their lovers (had sexting been around during their time), and puts a lesbian twist on a 1950s American instructional video on how to prepare the perfect dinner party.

For a full list of events and dates, visit mardigras.org.au