Sydney Mardi Gras relocates to sports ground in 2021 to minimize COVID risk

Sydney Mardi Gras
(Photo: Sydney Mardi Gras/Ann-Marie Calihanna)

Sydney Mardi Gras in Australia has announced that it will be going ahead with a physical event in 2021, but it’s making major changes to minimize the risk of COVID transmission.

The event is one of the biggest LGBTQ festivals in the world, bringing tourists to Sydney and generating millions in revenue for local businesses. It attracts big-name performers, with hundreds of thousands lining the streets of the city to watch the signature parade.

Sydney Mardi Gras
(Photo: Sydney Mardi Gras/Ann-Marie Calihanna)

Many have been wondering what will happen with next year’s event, given the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Australia, like neighboring New Zealand, has had great success in containing the virus in recent weeks. It had a spike in cases in March and a second in August but has now really gotten things under control.

Today, its health minister, Greg Hunt, said the country had recorded its second consecutive day of zero transmissions. The only half a dozen cases that were recorded were travelers to the country who were currently quarantining in hotels.

Related: Gay bars in Sydney 

However, the Mardi Gras team wish to avoid unnecessary risk and have therefore decided to relocate next year’s parade to a sports arena: the famous Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). It will take place on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

The SCG has a seated capacity of 23,000. Those who purchase tickets can watch a parade of community groups. Broadcaster SBS will transmit the event live, so people across the country can watch for free.

Sydney Mardi Gras
(Photo: Sydney Mardi Gras/Jeffrey Feng)

Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger said in a statement, “The 2021 Parade may look different to how it has been in the past, but we feel very lucky to be able to give this opportunity to our communities during these times.

“The team at Mardi Gras have worked tirelessly with NSW Health to develop a COVID Safe event plan to ensure the Parade can go forward and we’re excited by the prospect of staging the event at the SCG. Not only is the SCG close to our spiritual home of Oxford Street, but it also provides the safest venue for us to hold the event and meet requirements of physical distancing and contact tracing.

“With a greater focus on community, our 2021 Parade will move away from large floats, centering instead on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props that make it such a phenomenon to witness.”

Sydney Mardi Gras
(Photo: Sydney Mardi Gras/Jeffrey Feng)

He said Mardi Gras is also working with NSW Health on several different COVID-safe plans to stage additional events, like the popular Fair Day, in 2021. More updates will be provided in the coming weeks.

The theme for the 2021 festival will be ‘Rise.’ Tickets for the parade will go on sale on November 9, 2020, priced AUS$20 for adults or AUS$50 for a group of four (that’s approximately $14 and $36 respectively).

The news from Sydney follows announcements about other LGBTQ events in early 2021 being canceled because of COVID. This includes the popular BeefDip Bears Week in Mexico, where the virus remains a major health concern.

Related: BeefDip Bears Week cancel its January festival and reschedules for 2022