Mardi Gras defies Covid to unveil mammoth entertainment line-up

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is an iconic and much-loved Sydney event but just one of many planned for this year's Mardi Gras Festival. Photo: Dan Gosse/supplied.

By DAMIEN NOVAK

Pop stars, photographers, writers, drag performers, filmmakers, journalists and artists from all walks of life will join together to ensure the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras arts and entertainment offering this year is one to remember.

The LGBTQI+ festival, which is centred on theme ‘United We Shine’ for 2022, today unveiled the full line-up for its annual Parade, which will be held in the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) for the second consecutive year in the interests of Covid safety.

Details of the annual Fair Day, Laugh Out Proud, Laneway, Queer Art After Hours and the Surry Hills Picnic were also announced, along with information on many more Festival events.

The Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival will once again be a key component, offering 119 films in a mix of in-cinema and online screenings.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger said queer community artists were joining forces to stage a spirited program, despite the difficulties presented by the Covid-19 era.

“Our queer artistic communities are uniting in 2022 to present an electrifying line-up of events for the Festival this year,” Kruger said.

“We have a truly incredible range of new events, from theatrical discoveries, community celebrations, to insightful talks and exhibitions. And of course, we have the return of much-loved Mardi Gras favourites such as Fair Day, which was greatly missed in 2021.”

NSW Government support for the Festival – which brings an estimated $40 million to the local economy each year – was highlighted by NSW Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres, who said: “We are proud to support the 2022 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and help bring its glittering line-up to life. It’s fantastic to have the Mardi Gras Festival back and better than ever this year, with a mix of exciting new events and all-time favourites.

“I congratulate the Mardi Gras organisers on their commitment to delivering a Covid-safe event, allowing our rainbow communities to once again experience the magic of this iconic festival.” 

Key components of this year’s Festival will include:

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade

The Parade’s pop star game will be strong, with two iconic Australian singers performing at the SCG event on Saturday, 5 March.

Fresh off the back of the release of his new single ‘Let’s Try Being in Love’, former Savage Garden frontman turned solo star Darren Hayes will be headlining, in his first live performance Down Under for a decade.

The Mardi Gras show will mark his 20th year as a solo artist and the 25th anniversary of Savage Garden’s self-titled debut album, which spawned a slew of international hit singles and sold more than 12 million copies globally.

Among the many other artists appearing will be Vanessa Amorosi, also no stranger to homegrown and international success.

Official video for Darren Hayes’ new single, ‘Let’s Try Being In Love’. Video: Darren Hayes/YouTube.

Fair Day

A firm Mardi Gras favourite, which did not proceed last year due to Covid-19, Fair Day will once again return to Victoria Park in Broadway, hosted by ABC News journalist Mon Schafter and TV presenter Faustina Agolley.

ABC Radio Sydney presenter Josh Szeps will be broadcasting live from the event on Sunday, 20 February, with radio station triple j crossing live throughout the day.

Keeping the ABC presence strong, current and former hosts of RN Breakfast, Patricia Karvelas and Fran Kelly, will host a live edition of The Party Room from Fair Day’s Arena.

Laugh Out Proud

Billed as the queer comedy event of the year, Laugh Out Proud will highlight the cream of Australia’s LGBTQI+ comedy scene.

Performers this year will include Charlie Lewin, Madeleine Stewart, Scout Boxall, Alex Ward and Zoe Sitas, with the night hosted by Mel Buttle. 

With Laugh Out Proud a sell-out in 2020 and 2021, Mardi Gras organisers urged punters book their tickets ASAP.

Laugh Out Proud will be held on Friday, 25 February at the Enmore Theatre, Newtown.

Madeleine Stewart, pictured, is one of many performers taking part in this year’s Laugh Out Proud. Photo: supplied.

Laneway

One of Mardi Gras’ most beloved traditions, Laneway is returning to take over the Beresford Hotel and its adjacent lane.

Keeping the pop star quotient strong, British singer Tina Cousins – whose hits include ‘Mysterious Times’, ‘Pray’, ‘Forever’ and ‘Wonderful Life’ – will headline the event.

A bevy of DJs and performers will contribute to the soundtrack, including Super Disco Club, DJ Shigeki, Dan Murphy, Amanda Louise, Brett Austin and DJ Nate.

Queer Art After Hours

To be held at the Art Gallery of NSW on Wednesday, 2 March, Queer Art After Hours is being billed by Mardi Gras organisers as “an explosion of innovative performance art, installations, collection stories, music and gallery tours inspired by this year’s theme of ‘United We Shine’”.

Performance collectives, DJs and artists involved will include Club Chrome, Demon Derriere, Jazz Money and Kim Leutwyler, with more to be announced,

Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival

The 29th Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival (MGFF) – a fully-fledged film festival within the overall Mardi Gras Festival – will run from Thursday, 17 February to Thursday, 3 March. Along the way, it will screen 119 films from 37 countries across six continents.

Presented in participating cinemas across Sydney, with dozens of films also available On Demand across Australia, this year’s MGFF carries the theme ‘The Queer Frontier’.

Among the films showing this year will be Hating Peter Tatchell, a documentary about the Australian born, British-based queer rights hero.

Presented by the Sydney Sentinel at Event Cinemas George St on Sunday, 27 February, the event will feature a Q&A with the film’s director Christopher Amos, who is travelling to Sydney for the screening.

For details of the many other films screening during this year’s festival, visit https://queerscreen.org.au/.

Hating Peter Tatchell will be presented by the Sydney Sentinel at the Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival. Photo: supplied.

Surry Hills Picnic

In the time of Covid-19, outdoor activities are especially popular, being more Covid-safe than indoor events. Multiple Mardi Gras Festival events are held outdoors, including the Parade, Fair Day and this one – the Surry Hills Picnic.

An annual community celebration connecting local businesses, venues, performers, residents, visitors and workers, the event is held at participating food, drink and entertainment venues not only in Surry Hills but the neighbouring and nearby suburbs of Darlinghurst, Potts Point, Redfern. Chippendale and Glebe.

You can picnic in a participating venue or pick up delicious take away picnic packs and join friends at a local park to celebrate the Mardi Gras weekend.

Other events

A whole host of other events will be held during the Mardi Gras Festival, including architectural talks, photographic exhibitions, pool parties, burlesque shows and much more. For further details, visit www.mardigras.org.au.

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