• The night's fabulous lineup of hosts include comedian Joel Creasey, presenter Narelda Jacobs, drag icon Courtney Act and comedian Zoë Coombs Marr. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
There's a new theme, epic performers, plus plenty of exciting events planned for LGBTIQ+ Australians of all ages.
Samuel Leighton-Dore

13 Nov 2019 - 3:33 PM  UPDATED 24 Feb 2020 - 3:11 PM

We're officially in Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras season - so it's time to stockpile our biodegradable glitter and start getting excited for all the treats this year's festival will bring.

As the anticipation for next weekend's parade starts to build, we figured we'd take a look at everything we already know about the 2020 Mardi Gras Festival.

The 2020 Mardi Gras theme is 'What matters'

In a powerful nod to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras' history of activism and protest, the official theme for next year's festival is WHAT MATTERS - encouraging party-goers to reflect on and examine not only how far members of the Australian LGBTIQ+ community have come, but how much further we have to go. 

It's all about amplifying the voices of our community's most marginalised factions, says Mardi Gras Arts Interim CEO Grant Lowe, while celebrating the unsung heroes who continue to lift us up.

“This year we celebrate those at the forefront of the fight for equality. From ground-breaking queer artists to trailblazing thought leaders, Mardi Gras 2020 is an opportunity to visit the next destinations on our journey of diversity, inclusion and social justice.”

Lowe added: “With Sydney named as the host city for WorldPride 2023, there has never been a more pertinent time to celebrate LBGTQI+ culture and uplift every shade of the rainbow.

You'll be able to watch the parade LIVE here and around the world

In a first for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, members of the LGBTIQ+ community around the world will be able to tune in to watch the 2020 parade live, with SBS On Demand removing its geo-block for the TV event, which airs on Saturday 29th February at 7.30pm.

The night's fabulous lineup of hosts include comedian Joel Creasey, presenter Narelda Jacobs, drag icon Courtney Act and comedian Zoë Coombs Marr.

SBS Director of Television and Online Content, Marshall Heald said it was important to make Mardi Gras as accessible for viewers as possible, highlighting this year's festival theme of 'What Matters'.

“We are delighted and honoured to be broadcasting the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade LIVE across Australia and around the world on SBS On Demand," he said in a statement.

“'What Matters' to SBS is giving a voice to underrepresented communities and promoting social inclusion and acceptance through our content. We can’t wait to share another amazing evening of love with our audience.”

The lineup of entertainment is going to be epic

With a new theme comes a new festival hub, promising an impressive showcase of events, discussions and performances throughout the Mardi Gras festivities.

“We are thrilled to announce the expansion of the Mardi Gras Festival Hub in 2020,” said Mardi Gras Creative Director Kat Dopper.

“A hive of activity throughout the Festival, the Festival Hub will showcase 15 eclectic events including incredible local and international queer performances, inspiring discussions, side-splitting comedy, theatre, music, dance, circus, burlesque and drag all under the roof of Sydney’s Seymour Centre, plus the late-night Festival Club from Thursday to Sunday each week.”

According to festival organisers, Festival Hub highlights include cabaret variety show 'F**k Fabulous', the sassy, genre-defying smash-hit 'Hot Brown Honey', electrifying trans and gender-diverse performance 'Gender Euphoria', the outrageous drag and burlesque infused 'YUMMY UNLEASHED', the return of Koori Gras, and another lineup of thought-provoking panel discussions from from Queer Thinking.

The After Party lineup is HUGE

First announced was Dua Lipa, then Kesha, and now the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has announced that music superstar Sam Smith will be joining this year's stellar lineup.

In a video shared on social media, Smith said they couldn't wait to get in on all the Mardi Gras action.

"Hello everyone! I'm coming to you from LA right now," They said on camera.

"I just wanted to send a message to all of my beautiful fans and friends in Australia. And I just wanted to say that I have an announcement to make today which is honestly one of the highlights of my career."

They continued, beaming: "Australia has meant so much to me as a queer person and I'm going to be singing at Mardi Gras this year. I can't wait to be with you after such a challenging time.

"Hopefully we can spread that love and celebrate and sing and dance. So yeah, Mardi Gras, I can't wait to see you!"

There's something for everyone

Whether you're young or old(er), this year's Mardi Gras lineup has something for everyone - with a series of special events tailor-made for families, young people, and older members of the LGBTIQ+ community.

For starters, there's the Minus18 Queer Formal, which is a free event for LGBTIQ+ teens (between the ages of 13 and 19) with a night of live music, dancing, glamour stations, dinner, dessert and more. The event is being produced in collaboration with fantastic Aussie organisation Minus18, which celebrates all identities in an inclusive space.

Then, for older members of the community, there's the LGBTIQ+ Elders Dance Club - a free social event for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse, intersex elders and their allies. The evening offers punters the chance to learn some new dances, have some good food, and build new community connections.  According to the event's description, the LGBTQI+ Elders Dance Club "champions the recreational and social rights of rainbow elders, creating a space that is safe and inclusive".

The best part? No dance experience necessary.

For LGBTIQ+ families, there's also the Family Fun Day, which transforms Sydney’s Luna Park into a rainbow wonderland for LGBTQI+ families and friends - with unlimited rides, DJs and surprise performances. 

We can't wait!

The Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020: Live Stream will be available to watch here from Saturday, 29th February 2020 at 07:30 PM. 

Get into the Mardi Gras spirit by watching Country Town Pride: Untold Australia on SBS On Demand.

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