The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, at one stage temporarily the Sydney Mardi Gras, or locally Mardi Gras, is an annualLGBT pride parade and festival in Sydney, Australia, attended by hundreds of thousands of people from around Australia and overseas. It is one of the largest such festivals in the world, and includes a variety of events such as the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade and Party, Bondi Beach Drag Races, Harbour Party, the academic discussion panel Queer Thinking, Mardi Gras Film Festival, as well as Fair Day, which attracts 70,000 people to Victoria Park, Sydney.
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of Australia’s biggest tourist drawcards, with the parade and dance party attracting many international and domestic tourists. It is New South Wales’ second-largest annual event in terms of economic impact, generating an annual income of about A$30 million for the state.
The event grew from gay rights marches held annually since 1978, when numerous participants had been contentiously arrested by New South Wales Police. The Mardi Gras Parade maintains a political flavour, with many marching groups and floats promoting LGBTQI rights issues or themes. Reflecting changes since the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, participants in the Mardi Gras Parade now include groups of uniformed Australian Defence Force personnel, police officers from New South Wales State Police, as well as interstate and federal police officers, firefighters and other emergency services personnel from the Australian LGBTQI communities. Marriage equality was a dominant theme in the 2011 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade with at least 15 floats lobbying for same-sex marriage.