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Sydney WorldPride and Mardi Gras 2023: What You Need to Know

This article is sponsored by The University of Sydney

The world’s biggest LGBTQIA+ celebration is just around the corner – and it’s happening right here in Australia! Sydney is gearing up for a huge few weeks, with the city playing host to WorldPride 2023 alongside its annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) celebrations. Over 17 days, the city will be ignited with colour, creativity, celebration and above all else, community – and everyone’s invited! 

We were lucky enough to speak to three members of The University of Sydney’s (USYD) Pride Network, co-Chairs Eugenia Gasparri and Daniele Giannotti, and international student volunteer, Bygone. The Pride Network’s goal is to increase awareness and build a more supportive and inclusive culture where diversity is celebrated, working with the university and the wider community to do so. Playing an integral role in the upcoming WorldPride and Mardi Gras celebrations, the network has its very own float in the parade, guest speakers at the Human Rights Conference and countless affiliated events. 

Eugenia, Daniele and Bygone share everything you need to know about WorldPride and Mardi Gras and advice for international students who want to get more involved. 

What is Mardi Gras and WorldPride?

Mardi Gras and WorldPride are traditionally separate events, but this year they will be uniting to produce one colossal, global LGBTQIA+ pride festival – the very first in the Southern Hemisphere. But, what exactly do these events entail, and how did they begin? 

WorldPride is a global LGBTQIA+ festival that has been staged since 2000, with cities worldwide competing to host the event each year. This year, the streets of Sydney will be alive with WorldPride festivities, including parties, marches, and a Human Rights Conference to showcase the region’s talent and rich cultures on the global stage.

This year also marks the 45th year of SGLMG, an LGBTQIA+ not-for-profit organisation that produces the annual Mardi Gras Parade and Festival.  SGLMG was built on the foundations of early activism, which fought for LGBTQIA+ rights in a time of widespread oppression and discrimination. What started as a protest met with a violent police response 45 years ago, is now a city-wide celebration of community and self-expression. 

While there’s still a way to go to abolish all discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide, the hosting of WorldPride 2023 and the evolution of Mardi Gras over the decades reflects how far Australia has come in creating a safe and welcoming society for all.

Why are Mardi Gras and WorldPride important?

Mardi Gras and WorldPride are important events as they provide a platform for the LGBTQIA+ community to self-express, increase awareness and build a more supportive and inclusive culture in Australia where diversity is celebrated.

According to Daniele, who joined the Pride Network as soon as they started working at USYD in 2017, these kinds of initiatives also “challenge negative attitudes” toward the community. 

These events are also particularly important for LGBTQIA+ international students who come from countries that are less accepting of the community. 

When Bygone arrived in Sydney from China, he was pleasantly surprised by the positive attitudes towards LQBTQIA+ inclusion, so he applied to volunteer at the Pride Network to give back to his community. 

The environment for LGBTQIA+ people is much better – I mean at both the public and the government level,” he shares. “In my home country, the government and the media avoid talking about it, and although most young people in China accept it, [the discrimination is] worse among older people. Last year, I was absorbed in the joy and pleasure of marching with uni fellows [in the Mardi Gras Parade].”

Why Sydney?

As well as Sydney’s long history of LGBTQIA+ activism, the city also celebrates pride all year round, “throughout its many queer-friendly districts,” shares Eugenia, who co-Chairs the Pride Network alongside Daniele.

“[Pride is seen] from Oxford Street and the rainbow mile, all the way to Sydney’s Inner West suburbs, where every second door or window is sporting a rainbow flag,” she shares. “I would describe Pride in Sydney as a piece of the city’s heart, in the way it is embedded in the arts and culture scene and in its communities, where people are free to express themselves and present however they like and be celebrated for that.”

Sydney’s LGBTQIA+-friendly attitude is also reflected in the city’s educational institutions like USYD, which was named as a “gold employer” at the Australian LGBTQ Awards two years in a row (2021-2022) in recognition of its workplace equality. Like many institutions in Sydney, USYD’s efforts to foster a safe and accepting environment for staff and students create a ripple effect in the wider community.

How can I get involved with Mardi Gras and WorldPride?

If this is your first year celebrating Mardi Gras and WorldPride and you’re not quite sure how to get involved, we’ve shared a few ideas below to help get you started!

The best free events at Mardi Gras and WorldPride 2023

Mardi Gras and WorldPride have dozens of events (many of which are free!) over the upcoming weeks – and anyone who supports LGBTQIA+ inclusion can attend. Here are the best free events at Mardi Gras and WorldPride 2023.

Fair Day (19 February): Kick off the Mardi Gras celebrations with Fair Day, an all-day rainbow extravaganza in Victoria Park with over 200 information stalls, retail and food stalls, plus music and live performances. USYD’s Pride Network will also have a stall set up, so make sure to stop by for a chat! 

Sydney WorldPride and Human Rights Conference (1 March – 3 March): As the centrepiece of the WorldPride festival, the Human Rights Conference will shine a spotlight on LGBTQIA+ issues around the world, in our region and at home. A Keynote Day Pass to the conference is just $25, or you can tune in for free by registering for virtual participation.

Mardi Gras Parade (25 February): The biggest event of Sydney WorldPride is the Mardi Gras Parade – a dazzling display of pride and self-expression in the form of 12,500 marchers and more than 200 floats. This year’s theme is Gather, Dream, Amplify, so interpret that as you will and dress up accordingly! 

For a full list of events and initiatives, check out the Sydney WorldPride website.


You can also get involved and contribute to the festival as a volunteer, which is often a great way to make friends and have fun while supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. Be sure to apply early to participate in the Mardi Gras events, as the planning starts well in advance.

There are also plenty of other volunteer opportunities outside of Mardi Gras and WorldPride. Daniele shares their advice: 

“Engage with local LGBTQ+ organisations or communities and volunteer or participate in any related events or initiatives: it is a great way to meet people, create a network and be active in the community. Another way is to join LGBT student societies and groups.”

Read more: Resources for LGBTQIA+ international students