Sydney set to shine for WorldPride!
City of Sydney
The City of Sydney is getting ready to welcome half a million visitors as the final touches are made for WorldPride 2023.
The City has provided more than $1.75 million in funding to make sure the largest global celebration of pride and diversity is a great success.
The seventeen-day festival will see the return of Mardi Gras Parade to Oxford Street, the creation of Pride Villages in Surry Hills and a Coming Back Out Ball at the Sydney Town Hall, along with hundreds of other events and a sea of rainbow murals, banners and flags.
“With just ten days to go, we’re ready to welcome the world to Sydney for WorldPride 2023!” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“More than 300 events, from the opening concert to the Pride March, to art installations, a human rights conference and sporting matches, will feature across the city from 17 February to 5 March.”
“As one of the most LGBTIQA+ inclusive communities not just in Australia but around the world, Sydney is the perfect home for a festival celebrating the rainbow community, and I know we’re all excited to get the party started.”
As the first elected representative to march in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the Lord Mayor said the timing of the event was a poignant reminder of progress made and ongoing fights for equality.
“WorldPride coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first Australian Gay Pride Week, the 45th anniversary of the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the fifth anniversary of Australia saying yes to same-sex marriage,” the Lord Mayor said.
“This is the first time the event will be held in the southern hemisphere, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to show off our vibrant and inclusive city and invite people from all over the world to develop a deep sense of belonging here.
“We want everyone coming to feel confident in themselves and connected to their neighbours, to celebrate, build relationships and discuss the ongoing fight for equality, especially in the promotion of trans rights.
“The event is also expected to inject millions of dollars into the NSW economy and in particular, breathe new life into the Oxford Street precinct.
“The festival’s scale and appeal will not only celebrate our LGBTIQA+ communities, but it will be a boost to the City’s cultural life and economy,” the Lord Mayor said.
“We’ve supported Sydney WorldPride since 2019 when we helped fund the team’s initial bid to host the event. Given the event footprint extends across multiple locations throughout the city, this is the perfect opportunity to shine the spotlight on Sydney’s unique local neighbourhoods and global city centre.”
As well as cash funding and discounted goods and services, highlights of the City of Sydney’s support for Sydney WorldPride include:
To officially kick-off the WorldPride and Mardi Gras celebrations, the City of Sydney will host a Progress Pride flag ceremony on Friday 17 February.
In the spirit of this year’s Sydney WorldPride theme – gather, dream, amplify – leading community members will come together as the international symbol of LGBTIQA+ pride is raised at Sydney Town Hall, where it will fly for the duration of the festival.
The ceremony will include a presentation of the Key to the City to members of the community in recognition of their efforts in advancing LGBTIQA+ rights.
On 25 February, WorldPride’s centrepiece will be the 45th Mardi Gras Parade, returning to its Oxford Street
home after two years absence. With 12,500 participants and more than 200 floats, it will be the largest event of the WorldPride festival, with 300,000 spectators expected to attend.
In addition to funding for Sydney WorldPride, the City of Sydney is providing more than $262,000 in support to Mardi Gras and will take part in the parade with a float themed ‘Oxford Street, you’re so sweet’.
Celebrating Oxford Street as a place that holds a sweet spot in the hearts of the LGBTIQA+ communities, up to 75 employees, family and friends will take part, performing a choreographed routine to a soundtrack incorporating Strawberry Kisses by Nikki Webster, Sweet Lovin’ by Sigala and Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics.
The Oxford Street neighbourhood will become the home of Pride Villages, with parts of Crown and Riley streets closed to allow for stalls, performances, dining and a place to connect with friends and family in between WorldPride events.
On weekends, Crown Street will also host nightly shows and special extended entertainment.
Dozens of businesses along Crown and Riley streets will trade outdoors during Pride Villages with temporary outdoor dining, street stalls and live performances.
WorldPride’s final weekend on 4 and 5 March will see the once-in-a-lifetime Oxford Street Party between College and Flinders streets. The event will include live entertainment, markets and the opportunity for businesses on Oxford Street to trade on the street with a capacity of around 20,000 patrons.
Beyond its cash sponsorship, the City of Sydney will work with Sydney WorldPride to beautify Oxford Street through pride-themed living colour floral displays and banners across the local area.
The Taylor Square fountain will be illuminated in rainbow colours as part of Rainbow City public art program, and cleaning services will be increased to ensure Oxford Street sparkles throughout the festival.
Large-scale hoardings along Oxford Street and throughout the festival will tell the rainbow history of the strip. The specially created artwork will reflect the area’s LGBTIQA+ history and add colour and life to the street.
Vacant shopfronts will be used as performance and gathering spaces, indoor markets and merchandise shops, and public spaces will be activated with screens, sculptures, a giant mirror ball and temporary event infrastructure.
In May 2022, the City of Sydney unanimously approved a $283,500 cash grant to support Qtopia Sydney establish a permanent LGBTIQA+ museum at the site of the former Darlinghurst Police Station.
As part of Sydney WorldPride, interim museum spaces will be set up at the Green Park Bandstand and the National Art School that explore the LGBTIQA+ communities through the lens of history, culture, art, HIV and AIDS, and contemporary issues.
Opening on 17 February, the interim exhibitions will feature historical and archival objects, imagery, video and audio to tell some of the stories of the queer communities in the context of a significant period within Australia’s history.
A giant LGBTIQA+ pride flag has been installed at the northern end of George Street – one of the biggest activations in the Rainbow City program.
The grey road has been painted red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, black, brown, white and pink. Colour-coordinated seating has also been put in place.
The works are part of the City of Sydney’s long-term vision to transform George Street into a world-class boulevard and follows the pedestrianisation of George Street south, which has given city space back to visitors, business owners and residents.
From 17 February to 2 July, Customs House will host Liberate! – an exhibition showcasing the works of photographer C. Moore Hardy and other social documentary and queer photographers, part of WorldPride Arts.
The exhibition highlights the significant social issues and events of the last 45 years including the creation of queer organisations and world-leading HIV education campaigns, the struggle for marriage equality and the monumental win, and images that depict the vibrancy, diversity, subversiveness and fabulousness of queer life and community.
On Saturday 18 February, a free panel discussion will provide an opportunity to meet the queer artists, activists and creatives captured in many of the history-making moments featured in the exhibition.
As part of a program of free, family-friendly events, the City of Sydney’s libraries have produced a series of online stories for preschoolers presented by LGBTIQA+ individuals.
Pride Amplified will feature more than 200 community events, in addition to the official Sydney WorldPride program.
Positive musings – Reflections of HIV in Modern Australia
Social historians and prominent local writers will come together to discuss Australia’s history of dealing with HIV.
The panel discussion on 28 February will be a deep dive into its representations in Australian media and literature over the decades, in comparison with how the AIDS crisis was reported in other parts of the world.
WorldPride is a biennial, global event that promotes LGBTIQA+ issues through a human rights convention, parades, festivals and other cultural activities.
For more details on official events visit the Sydney WorldPride website. For community events visit Pride Amplified.