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PHOTOS: Sydney Mardi Gras is also a fabulous Pride party

Guys celebrate Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney, Australia is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. From beaches to food scenes to friendly locals, it is a wonderful place to visit.

But did you know it also has one of the most popular Pride celebrations in the world within its Mardi Gras celebration?

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras brings thousands of visitors to Sydney. It also captures the imagination of Australia’s LGBTQ+ communities, taking over the city for weeks, culminating in the world-famous Parade: a colorful and dazzling night of pride, parties, and self-expression.

Related: PHOTOS: Aussie hotties served a feast for the eyes at Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney Mardis Gras draws over 250,000 spectators, over 200 floats, and over 12,000 marchers. 

My own Mardis Gras journey began at the brand spanking new W Sydney in Darling Harbor. The W Sydney is the largest of the brand’s locations. My room featured its very own bar, a first for me. The rooftop pool spans the entire roof and is perfect for laps and people-watching.

(Credit: W Sydney)

(Credit: W Sydney)

After a quick swim and freshening up, I set out to explore and walk in Taylor Swift’s footsteps. The pop chanteuse was in town just days before the Mardis Gras Parade and was rumored to have stayed at the Crown Hotel, which happened to be where I had my first lunch during my stay. A’Mare features Italian food with an Aussie twist. Don’t forget to order the table-side-made pesto pasta paired with a custom martini off the Martini trolley. Yup, you heard that right, Martini trolly.

(Credit: Crown Sydney)

After a much-needed martini (or two, ok, fine, three) it was time to meet the Fabulous Wonder Mama for a walking tour of Oxford Street, Sydney’s LGBTQ+ hub. Wonder Mama is one of the most well-known drag queens, offering a wealth of knowledge highlighting Sydney’s past. On her walking tour, she pointed out various places of interest including bars, clubs, and restaurants. 

(Credit: Andrew Freund and Wonder Mama)

Tip: Stop at House of Priscilla’s for any costume needs along Oxford Street. The shop has a colorful array of costumes, wigs, and more.

Related: PHOTOS: Let David Francis be your guide to the beauty of Sydney during Mardi Gras

(Credit: Andrew Freund, House of Priscilla)

Day two of my Mardis Gras adventure began with a tour of QTopia Sydney. The brand-new museum is dedicated to telling the history of Sydney’s Queer past. The museum is housed in an old police station that housed the original Mardis Gras revealers back in 1978 who were arrested. 45 years later the museum serves as a reminder of the past, but also celebrates the future.

(Credit: Andrew Freund, Qtopia)

Now nothing screams Mardis Gras like margaritas and Esteban restaurant embraces classic Mexican traditions with a modern twist. I was a bit skeptical to try Mexican cuisine in Australia since I live in Los Angeles (home to amazing Mexican food). I was floored by the pastor tacos and the margaritas made from a vast and diverse tequila selection. The restaurant makes homemade soft corn tortillas each day.

After a good night’s sleep, it was time for the BIG day, Parade day. We started at the world-famous Bondi Beach for some brunch at Glory Days Bondi then explored this vast area filled with shops, farmers markets, and artisanal coffee shops. 

(Credit: Andrew Freund, Glory Days Bondi)

We pre-gamed at the wonderful Oxford House, and in true Aussie fashion, it was Kylie Minogue-themed, of course. Cocktails and oysters were all conspiring to make a night of enchantment.

(Credit: Andrew Freund, Oxford House)

(Credit: Andrew Freund, Oxford House)

After leaving Oxford House it was time for the big parade. We made our way down Oxford Street to witness the spectacle of the big show. One of the things that stood out to me was how many young kids and families there were out celebrating their pride together. It gave me hope in humanity seeing all walks of life come together in peace and love.

(Credit: Andrew Freund)

(Credit: Andrew Freund)

Parade evening wouldn’t be complete without an after-party—an after-party headlined by Adam Lambert, no less. The party was a huge playground filled with DJs, costumes, and some people in very, very tiny costumes across multiple dancefloors. And let’s just say what happens at the after-party stays at the after-party…

(Credit: Andrew Freund, after party)

The next day was time for some recovery and more celebrating at the Beresford Hotel. Beresford Sundays is an institution in Sydney and the perfect way to wrap up a Mardis Gras experience with the city’s best DJs.

(Credit: Andrew Freund, Beresford Hotel)

I needed a change of scenery and checked into Pier One Sydney. The hotel is a stunning property along Sydney Harbour. Hot tip: Take advantage of Pier Bar. It is a lovely space in the hotel where you can sit outside and enjoy various bites, wine and cocktails from morning to night.

(Credit: Pier One Hotel)

For my final dinner in Sydney I once again followed in Taylor Swift’s footsteps and dined at Pellegrino 2000. Taylor dined here during her Eras tour stop and I can see why she chose this local trattoria. The menu features classic Italian dishes with a little something extra.

(Credit: Andrew Freund, Milanese)

My Mardis Gras adventure wouldn’t be complete without a Drag Bingo at the Royal Bondi. Every Monday Sydney’s reigning comedy queen, Jackie Daniels will take you on the ultimate bingo journey.

To say I had a good time exploring Sydney during Mardis Gras would be an understatement. Sydney has become one of my favorite cities in the world, not because of its stunning beauty but because of its people. The people of Sydney are incredibly kind and welcoming. They genuinely want you to experience the wonder of their city, and I can totally see why. 

To plan your own Sydney adventure, head over to

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