WorldPride 2023: The Best Things to Do

In 2023, Sydney welcomes travelers with a bang by hosting WorldPride 2023 to celebrate the 45th anniversary of its first gay and lesbian Mardi Gras parade and the fifth year of Australian marriage equality in the country. WorldPride’s splashy arrival in the southern hemisphere takes place in the New South Wales state capital from February 17th to March 5th, and the biennial event is expected to be the city’s biggest calendar item of the year – it also falls with Sydney’s annual One-Day Together Mardi Gras Pride festival. With more than 300 WorldPride discos, exhibitions, sports competitions, films, workshops, plays, rallies (and of course mind-blowing drag shows), there is no doubt that for two weeks, Sydney will serve world queer glory like it has never seen before has .

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Here’s a look at some of the biggest WorldPride 2023 events and the best LGBTQ+ spots in Sydney to explore the welcoming city.

Live and Proud: The Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert

An opening concert of this size means it starts a week after the WorldPride events. Expect one of the biggest crowds on February 24th at Live and Proud at the Domain, Sydney’s premier outdoor concert venue (next to the Royal Botanic Garden). In keeping with the glamor required of a celebration of this magnitude, Australian diva Kylie Minogue helms the show, along with pop powerhouses Charli XCX and Jessica Mauboy and other entertainers. Popular local drag performer Courtney Act and singer (and native of New South Wales) Casey Donovan will host the live TV show. And even if you can’t snag tickets for this one, keep an eye out for many more fantastic acts popping up across the city, including street party pop-ups from Pride Villages along Oxford Street; drag circus cabaret parties at Klub Village featuring First Nations artists; and the open-air Domain dance party with Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland. The event will be broadcast on ABC TV in Australia.

First Nations Gala Concert and other gatherings

The City of Sydney and WorldPride organizers respectfully incorporate a “Recognition of the Land” throughout the festival, acknowledging that “Sydney WorldPride will take place on the land of the Gadigal, Cammeraygal, Bidjigal, Darug and Dharawal who are the traditional custodians of the Sydney Basin.” So expect World First Nations to represent the full spectrum of events, uniting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clans and communities with the “global LGBTQIA+ community.” One of the glitziest events is the Blak & Deadly Gala Concert taking place on March 2nd at the Sydney Opera House. Hosted by Faboriginal comedian Steven Oliver, you’ll catch performances by musical duo Electric Fields, Indigenous Canadian tenor Jeremy Dutcher, award-winning artist Mo’Ju and more RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Star Kween Kong. The incredible cast is spectacularly backed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.

Look for other First Nations programs woven into WorldPride such as Marri Madung Butbut (Many Brave Hearts): First Nations Gathering Space, which hosts a variety of games, shows, exhibitions and other works by local queer artists. Don’t miss the venue’s most dazzling showcase, the Miss First Nation: Supreme Queen drag pageant, running February 26-28.

The Human Rights Conference 2023

As part of every WorldPride, the Human Rights Conference 2023 inspires attendees to reflect on the legacy of the global LGBTQ+ community, the change and direction for the future. From March 1-3 at the Darling Harbor Theatre, this year’s conference will kick off with a First Nations opening ceremony and official welcome, along with keynote addresses from Australian officials and world leaders. Daily lectures, panel discussions and breakout sessions will address important LGBTQ+ issues around today’s world, including faith stories, physical autonomy and fundamental rights, and the impact of global refugee crises on displaced LGBTQ+ people. The topics were curated following a survey of more than 1,300 respondents from 55 different countries, all aimed at building coalitions, raising awareness and expanding government and corporate engagement on human rights.

“The Human Rights Conference is the cornerstone event of Sydney WorldPride,” said Kate Wickett, Executive Director of Sydney WorldPride. “Our goal is for this conference to contribute to real-life change not only for the community in Australia, but also for LGBTQIA+ communities in Asia Pacific and around the world.”

Bondi Beach – and lots of sports

Once the surfers head home on March 4th, Bondi Beach becomes the city’s hottest all-day open-air disco. Welcome to WorldPride’s Bondi Beach Party with an all Australian DJ lineup, pop up performances and special guest Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls DJing in the Australian summer sun. If you’d rather burn calories through exercise than dancing, check out what games are on the WorldPride sports calendar, whether it’s roller derby or dragon boating, soccer or wrestling, or the all-watersport AQuA Festival (runs February 11 – March 3 ). .

Mardi Gras Parade and Pride March On

The two brightest urban events in the city took place over two weekends in a row. First up is the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade on the evening of February 25, which will light up Oxford Street from Hyde Park to Moore Park with more than 200 floats and 12,000 protesters. Expect fireworks and light shows as part of the dazzling display of LGBTQ+ empowerment in pride and self-expression – and over-enthusiasm from locals who will be welcoming the parade back after a two-year pandemic hiatus. On March 5th, Sydney concludes WorldPride with the Pride March. This morning, 50,000 people will cross the Sydney Harbor Bridge (north to south) and don their brightest colors in a statement of international solidarity for Australians and all LGBTQ+ people around the world.

Sydney’s top WorldPride activities

Ready for more of Sydney’s best LGBTQ+ activities beyond WorldPride? The city’s always vibrant queer community strives to show their brightest side.

Start with a visit to Darlinghurst, the neighborhood credited as the spiritual birthplace of Australia’s LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. You’ll recognize Oxford Street as home to the annual Mardi Gras parade, as well as a bustling year-round dining, cultural and nightlife scene. Alongside Darlinghurst, Surry Hills is growing in popularity thanks to its thriving reputation as a dining and cocktail destination. Check into the new Ace Hotel Sydney, dine at its innovative Kiln restaurant or stroll over to Pellegrino 2000, already one of the hottest new restaurants of the year.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales has just opened its bold new extension to the Sydney Modern Project, nearly doubling the size of the landmark modern art museum overlooking the harbour. Explore the collections of Australian, Asian and global art, including commissions from Sydney Modern.

Just in time for WorldPride, Qtopia opens its doors in Darlinghurst as Sydney’s new queer museum. His first installation tells stories of the national equality movement that erupted right in his home area in the 1970s, using historical and archival objects, photographs, and original videos and audios. In addition to constantly rotating exhibitions, Qtopia will host educational programs, share its Living Treasures stories online, and stage artistic performances by queer artists as a thriving new entertainment venue.

The Pride March will send tens of thousands of rainbow-colored revelers crossing the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Another rare adventure on the legendary traverse is BridgeClimb Sydney’s Burrawa Indigenous Experience, an upper arch summit climb led by an Indigenous storyteller. Held every Wednesday and Saturday, the Burrawa Climb is a bespoke experience for visitors to learn facts and stories about Sydney’s Aboriginal culture and history, all set against the city’s magnificent skyline. BridgeClimb will also host the Pride Climb daily during WorldPride, offering climbers a ‘drag queen at the summit’ and photo ops with a progress flag.

Ben Franklin, NSW Minister for Tourism, said WorldPride is expected to host 500,000 participants and tens of thousands of international visitors.

“Sydney is an inclusive and proud LGBTQIA+ city,” said Franklin. “We are ready to celebrate our diverse city and present it to a global audience, highlighting our creativity, innovation and unique natural and cultural experiences for which the port city is known internationally.”

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