The Definitive Guide to Sydney WorldPride

Sydney WorldPride
Past event in Sydney
Various locations
17 Feb to 5 Mar, 2023
Various prices
With Sydney WorldPride fast approaching, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to this mega-pride including all of the major dance parties and events.

If you’ve ever wondered if the Sydney Gay and Lesbian mardi gras could get any gayer, well your question is about to be answered when WorldPride descends on the city from 17 February to 5 March 2023. 

Take all the excitement of the annual Mardi Gras festival, add in additional WorldPride events and parties, and you’re left with a mega 3-week pride festival that is sure to test even the most seasoned of circuit party boys.

The Sydney event will be the first time WorldPride has made its way south of the equator. It also marks 50 years since Australia’s first gay pride weekend, 45 years since the first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, 5 years since the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and 3 years since the parade made its way down Oxford street (and a partridge in a pear tree).

Warehouses in China will need to start stockpiling glitter to meet the demands of the half a million attendees expected for the festival. Sydney WorldPride chief executive Kate Wickett said it will be “the biggest event in Sydney since the Sydney Olympics”.

And the Winner is.. Sydney, Australia

So how did Sydney come to host such a massive international event? The host city is decided by Interpride, the international association of pride organisations. In the 2019 annual general meeting, Sydney received 60% of the vote beating out Montreal (35%) and Houston (3%).

The last WorldPride was held 2 years ago in 2021 with Copenhagen and Malmö as shared host cities. The festival seems to be finding its rhythm still with anywhere between 2 and 6 years between events. In fact, the event’s history has unfortunately been marred by war, diplomatic tensions, poor planning and, unsurprisingly, protests by religious and conservative groups. The pope himself denounced the inaugural WorldPride in Rome in 2000. His comments contributed to the mayor performing a series of backflips on funding that would make Jackie Chan blush. Luckily common sense prevailed, funding was reinstated, and the event went ahead as planned, however the city’s logo was removed from all promotional material. 

The second WorldPride in Jerusalem was postponed because of tensions arising from Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The event went ahead 12 months later, but the march was cancelled because there were not enough soldiers to protect marchers.

London WorldPride in 2012 was even more catastrophic: most events were cancelled 9 days before the start of the festival due to a lack of funding. The organising group, Pride London, was forced to withdraw from organising future London Pride events based on community outrage.

WorldPride entered a good stretch after this with Toronto (2014), Madrid (2017), New York city (2019) and Copenhagen–Malmö (2021) all hosting successful festivals. 

Parade participants in Toronto World Pride
Toronto successfully hosted WorldPride in 2014. Image: mikcphoto via Shutterstock

However, WorldPride’s fortunes have not turned entirely and fate had one more blow to deal. The 2025 festival planned for Taiwan was cancelled due to reported disagreements regarding the naming of the event. The organising committee claims InterPride insisted the word Taiwan be dropped from the name to avoid bristling China’s feathers by implying Taiwan is not not part of China.

But rest assured, Sydney received a perfect score card for its planning of the 2000 Olympics, so the chances of a smooth festival look good for next year.

Party, Party, Party

What’s a pride festival without a party? Luckily Sydney knows a thing or two about throwing a special event and has an epic lineup of celebrations of every variety - circuit parties, tea dances, open-air concerts, street parties, boat parties and everything in between.

First of all, the area in and around Sydney's gay ground zero, Oxford Street, will be closed to traffic for 9 days between Friday Feb 24 and Sunday Mar 5 for Pride Villages. The streets will be filled with stages, stalls and dining and you can catch nightly shows with extended entertainment on weekends. The area will erupt into a massive street party on the final weekend for the closing party.

Crowds walk along Oxford Street, Sydney
Oxford street and the surrounds will be closed to traffic at times for a massive street party. Image: Fimina Anna via Shutterstock.

A key part of the lineup showcases first nations culture. The First Nations Gathering Space will host numerous events over the ten days, including Klub Village – a veritable mix of drag, circus and dance parties – and Miss First Nations: Supreme Queen, where First Nation drag queens will battle it out to be Australia's next top Miss First Nations.

The festivities are spread out over three weekends, each with a slightly different focus. Let’s break it down week by week.

Weekend 1

The first weekend is fairly low-key in comparison to the latter part of the festival. Revellers can ease into festivities with Fair Day (which as always kicks off the Mardi Gras festival) and a pool party at The Ivy.

Weekend 2

The official WorldPride events kick off on the second weekend with the opening concert in the domain featuring none other than pop princess herself, Kylie. The official website has sold out of tickets, but you can still pick them up from resellers like Klook who are selling package deals so you might end up with a ticket to the zoo in addition to your entry to the concert. The second weekend is also when the original Mardi Gras events take place - the parade, afterparty and laneway festival.

Non-official events from party organisers also start to ramp up in the second weekend with both local and international event organisers offering up a selection of dance parties.

Sydney knows how to throw a party as shown here at the 2020 Mardi Gras Party Image: Beau

Weekend 3

The final weekend is when the festival builds to a frothy climax. The weekend is lighter on official events than the previous weekend (especially factoring in that most of the official events have already sold out). However, this is more than offset by the number of dance parties from organisers like Poof Doof, Thick ‘n’ Juicy and Matinee Group. 

Key free events include the pride march across the Sydney Harbour bridge and the closing party where Oxford Street and the surrounding streets will erupt into a massive street party.

So there you have it folks, a rundown of Sydney WorldPride. This page will be updated as new details come to hand to check back for updates.