Wild costumes, oversized floats, film festivals and fabulous live performances – it draws a reported 500,000 spectators a year, everyone in the world knows about Sydney’s annual dusk till dawn Mardi Gras party.
Though Sydney might have earned the moniker “gayest city on earth” with its festivities, for the discerning LGBT Aussie it’s certainly not the only live attraction around. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest and best festivals and gatherings to keep you occupied for the whole year.
Started in Melbourne in 1989, this 3 week queer extravaganza looks to celebrate everything LGBT and more. It brings 120,000 people together every year just for its enormous opening day carnival. Consisting of hours of free music, entertainment and hundreds of stalls with plenty of food, fun, dancing and drinks – and that’s just the first day!
Across the rest of three weeks you can expect to enjoy such events as the Australia Day Picnic at Forest Glade Gardens, a 50,000 strong Pride March and an LGBTIQ sports day with 17 groups competing in a variety of sports. With 150 events in total there’s something for everyone from art lovers to families.
This is one for the movie buffs, turning 18 this year the Brisbane Queer Film Festival has long promoted queer cinema from Australia and around the world. Recognized alongside other international queer-centric festivals in Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul, the festival runs from March 10-18th every year. The stated intent of the festival is to showcase a diverse screening of inclusive films that really reflect the modern LGBTIQ experience.
Alice Springs’ Pride Carnival
The celebrations aren’t just confined to major cities anymore. Relatively new to the LGBTIQ festival scene, the carnival seeks to promote sexual diversity across all the different cultures of Australia. Special focus is given to Brotherboys and Sistergirls trans communities of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders that have existed long before European settlers came to Australia.
The weekend long September festival includes art exhibitions, a fair day, travelling performers, a dog show and stalls amongst many other attractions. So if you’re in the Northern Territories, now is the perfect time to check it out.
On the books since 1997 Adelaide’s premier event for LGBIT causes, Feast Festival is a worthy entry on our list. Remarkably, it is counted as the third biggest queer festival in the country. The extravaganza was headlined last year by pop idol Danii Minogue and takes place over 2 weeks, centred on the Raj House in Adelaide’s East End. The festival is very arts-centric with theatre and fringe performances occurring throughout, alongside dances and the obligatory bombastic carnival. The festival also plays host to important forums for discussion of queer issues and culture, for the heady types amongst you.
While these are some of the bigger festivals that have drawn our interest, they’re far from the only game in town. Pride events in Perth and the Chillout Festival in Victoria are just a few more that escaped the attentions of this list; however you can keep up with all the latest gay festival news on sites like emen8.com.au amongst others.
Whatever kind of festivity suits your style it’s clear that Australia has a variety of parties and events for every taste. So pack your bags, body glitter and costumes because this year is going to be a real celebration.