• (From Left) Mardi Gras Parade hosts Zoë Coombs Marr, Narelda Jacobs, Joel Creasey and Courtney Act. (SBS)Source: SBS
Everyone is having to do things a little bit differently this year, and the Mardi Gras team is no different.
SBS staff writers

9 Feb 2021 - 8:51 AM  UPDATED 5 Mar 2021 - 8:33 AM

Nothing could rain on this parade - not even a global pandemic.

Has Mardi Gras been cancelled in 2021?

No - it's happening! 

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is back, becoming one of the first internationally significant Pride events to be staged since the spread of COVID-19. Rather than having the usual run of Oxford Street, this year's event will be taking place safely at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

What date is the 2021 Sydney Mardi Gras?

This year's Mardi Gras parade will be taking place on Saturday 6 March, 2021.

How can we watch the parade?

With a new capacity of audience members, not as many people will be able to watch the fabulous parade in-person this year, but SBS will be on hand to broadcast the entire event live - so that revellers from across Australia can tune-in and celebrate from the comfort of their homes.

The broadcast will be streamed live via SBS On Demand with the geo-block removed, making it available to watch around the world. You can find the SBS On Demand times across Australia below or catch the full parade 7:30pm across Australia on SBS and NITV.



SA 5:30pm ACDT


NT 4:30pm ACST

Who are the 2021 hosts?

This year's event will again be helmed by drag icon Courtney Act, comedy superstar Joel Creasey, Network 10 Presenter Narelda Jacobs and stand-up genius Zoë Coombs Marr. As usual, the incredible team of hosts will walk at-home audiences through a stellar lineup of glittering performances, as well as interviews with a list of soon-to-be announced celebrity guests.

Speaking ahead of the 2021 announcement, Courtney Act said: “I can’t wait to get my heels on the pitch, wearing a lace-front in place of a baggy green, to celebrate this unique and vibrant Mardi Gras parade with my Indigenous, black, brown, trans, bisexual, asexual, intersex, lesbian, gay and queer siblings."

She added: "We’re going to bring all of the fun, glamour, heart, diversity and storytelling from the SCG and shout it loud and proud across Australia and around the world.”  

His fifth time hosting the event, Joel Creasey said he was excited to be reunited with his "Mardi Gras besties".

"It's a wild ride hosting Mardi Gras, so many elements and moving parts have to come together live on the night to make it all work... so often we are flying by the seat of our pants (assless chaps) but I couldn't be doing it with a better crew," the comedian said.

He added: "And, after the year we've had, we truly need the love, light and bio-degradable glitter that is Mardi Gras. I've never been to a cricket ground before so I hope my Uber driver knows where to drop me. I cannot wait!”

"Together, the queer community has supported each other through the pandemic."

Narelda Jacobs said she was "thrilled" to be reunited with her "rainbow dream team" of co-hosts.

"Together, the queer community has supported each other through the pandemic," she said, "now let’s rise like a phoenix to celebrate Mardi Gras 2021.”

Comedian Zoë Coombs Marr said she was looking forward to seeing the different ways the LGBTIQ+ community would interpret the struggles and the magnitude of the past year "in ways that only our community can… with leather, cardboard, and eco-friendly glitter!" 

The 2021 theme: RISE

The 2021 Mardi Gras theme is ‘RISE’, aiming to encapsulate the challenge and hardship that 2020 presented, while calling on members of the LGBTIQ+ community to rise again through love, compassion, respect and understanding.

Adapting the festivities

Everyone is having to do things a little bit differently this year, and the Mardi Gras team is no different.

“Mardi Gras has always been the epitome of creative expression through art and culture; two things severely impacted by COVID-19 this year," festival CEO Albert Kruger said in a statement.

"So it was important to Mardi Gras that we rise to the occasion and to give the community the creative platform to express their pride to the world. The 2021 Parade may look different to how it has been in the past, but we feel very lucky to be able to give this opportunity to our communities during these times."

Kruger explained that the 2021 parade would be moving away from the large floats we're used to, focusing instead on "the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props" that make the parade such a spectacle. 

Beyond the parade

Mardi Gras have been working with NSW Health on a number of different COVID-safe plans to stage additional events as part of the festival, in 2021. Updates on the progress of this planning will be provided in the coming weeks. 

Speaking about the festival, Lord Mayor Clover Moore commended the Mardi Gras team for adapting to the challenges presented by Covid-19.

“It is poignant that this year’s parade was the last major event held before we had to go into lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus," Moore reflected. "I know many in our community, myself included, have held onto our happy memories of Mardi Gras 2020 to get us through this challenging year."

"I know many in our community, myself included, have held onto our happy memories of Mardi Gras 2020 to get us through this challenging year."

She continued: “Mardi Gras will look different in 2021 but importantly it will give us the opportunity to come together safely and celebrate. Of course I look forward to the day when tens of thousands of Sydneysiders and visitors from around Australia and the world can gather on Oxford Street once more.”

How to celebrate with SBS

NITV will simulcast the broadcast on Saturday March 6 at 7.30pm followed by a screening of Black Divaz at 11.30pm, which explores the inaugural Miss First Nation pageant. In the lead-up, NITV will also be celebrating the LGBTIQ+ community with a slate of special programming, including thought-provoking documentaries Killing Patient Zero, Leitis in Waiting and The Stars Will Do. There will also be special encore screenings of Steven Oliver's Faboriginal from Monday March 1 to Thursday March 4 at 7:30pm, followed each night by the NITV premiere of Drag Heals, a documentary that follows men who have always dreamed of letting their inner drag queen out.

From Monday March 1 each weeknight at 9:30pm, SBS World Movies will showcase the best of LGBTIQ+ films from around the world with Mardi Gras Week, including Goodbye Mother, Tu Me Manques, A Fantastic Woman, Carol and Call Me By Your Name.

SBS On Demand will be celebrating with the release of Rainbow Pride, a wonderful collection of movies exploring LGBTIQ+ themes. Films include The Kids Are Alright, Goodbye Mother and Holding the Man, with parade host Courtney Act also curating a special collection of TV shows celebrating the spirit of Mardi Gras. 

In case your Mardi Gras viewing needs still haven't been met, SBS VICELAND will be screening a list of acclaimed documentaries such as Deep Water: The Real Story, Country Town Pride, Australiana: Island Queens, and The Last Lesbian Bars.

SBS Voices, SBS’s platform for writers from diverse backgrounds, will also be releasing a special collection of eight memoir stories from LGBTQIA+ writers, submitted as part of the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition last year, bringing to life the experience of growing up LGBTQIA+ in Australia. 

Follow the conversation on SBS Australia socials #WeRiseFor #MardiGras2021 and via sbs.com.au/mardigras

The 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras live Saturday 6 March 6pm AEDT on SBS On Demand or catch the full parade at 7:30pm on SBS and NITV (geo-block removed for viewers internationally).

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