The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival kicked off on February 18 and it’s filling the city with fabulous events and activities in the lead up to its iconic parade on March 5.
A vibrant program of comedy, music, film and arts events, parties and shows are giving the hospitality industry renewed hope for the future after two challenging years.
The NSW Government has also come to the party by lifting COVID-19 restrictions.
From Friday, 18 February 2022, density limits have been removed for hospitality venues; QR check-ins are only required for nightclubs, and for all music festivals with more than 1000 people; while singing and dancing are permitted at all venues, except music festivals, where singing and dancing can recommence from 25 February.
The theme for Mardi Gras this year is ‘United We Shine’, signifying that when we band together, we shine brighter. It is a rallying call to stand up against hate and inequality, reminding us that when we rise as a collective, our message of love and inclusion is heard louder.
“After the year that’s been, Mardi Gras is a chance to get back together,” The Beresford’s general manager Paul Flynn told The Daily Telegraph.
“Definitely coming into New Year things were quite slow. But over the last two weeks we’ve seen a change in energy and vibe and things have picked up.”
The Beresford is part of the Merivale group, which has partnered with Absolut throughout the Mardi Gras season. Key highlights include the Beresford Dog Show, Poof Doof Drag Brunch and ‘Vic on the Pardi Gras’ at Vic on the Park.
“We’re so passionate about being involved and celebrating this incredibly important part of Sydney’s culture, and we want to keep evolving every year to contribute bigger and better events. The parties are so much fun too,” head of music and entertainment Nick van Tiel told The Daily Telegraph.
“We have such a range of venues across the group and want to make sure all our Mardi Gras events are relevant to both the venues and the different crowds that will attend – we try not to repeat ourselves and do our best to be as vibrant and diverse as the community is that Mardi Gras celebrates.
“We’ll also be hosting viewing parties at some of our venues on Parade Day. We’ll be broadcasting the full show at The Beresford with a live screening in the courtyard, plus hosting a full DJ line-up from 2pm. The vibe will be great.
“Over at Vic on the Park, we will host an epic Mardi Gras takeover with the Dollar Bin Darlings and live broadcasting the parade on the outdoor projector. The ivy is the main hub for the after-party – with loads of events including Boogie by the Pool with Mr Doris, the biggest POOF DOOF of the year with huge international talent – wrapping up on Sunday with a very special Mardi Gras edition of Lost Sundays.”
Merivale’s exclusive Mardi Gras cocktail, The Absolut Thirst Trap is available at all locations, including the SCG on Parade night. The drink mixes Absolut Passionfruit, fresh lemon, hibiscus, makrut lime leaf and passionfruit with soda water. And $2 from every cocktail will be going back to the community, with donations being made to The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation and ACON.
Meanwhile, Applejack Hospitality, which owns Forrester’s in Surry Hills and The Butler in Potts Point, is hosting two bottomless lunches this weekend with Queen Millenia Alcox – pictured in the mural above – to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Its bartenders have been busy shaking and creating two Mardi Gras cocktails with Absolut Watermelon, and $1 from every cocktail sold will be donated in support of Mardi Gras.
Nearby Surry Hills venue The Winery has a month long festival of Mardi Gras celebrations including a Camp Cocktail Masterclass, Singles party and drag bingo. It also has an exclusive Camp Cocktail list on offer throughout the celebrations, describing the concoctions as “colourful, delicious fruity cocktails with the right amount of pizzazz to bring out your inner QUEEN!”
Café Cuckoo Callay will be serving up a special Mardi Gras menu from now until Sunday, March 6, at both its Newtown and Surry Hills venues featuring flamboyant French Toast, as well as Shrimp Po’ Boy, which pays homage to the Mardi Gras Parade’s origins in New Orleans.
Drinks companies partner with Mardi Gras
Lion, Treasury Wine Estates and Archie Rose are raising a glass to the 2022 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as its official partners.
Lion’s Chief Marketing Officer Anubha Sahasrabuddhe said: “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on all hospitality operators, but many venues and events that are so vital to Sydney’s queer community have been among the hardest hit. A big reason we wanted to be involved is to support our vibrant and resilient pub, bar and hospo industry as they plan another incredible festival for everyone to enjoy in 2022.”
Check out Mardi Gras’ full program at its website.