Sydney, Australia to host WorldPride with dazzling events, including Aussie’s own Kylie Minogue – Feb 17 to Mar 5, 2023
Sydney, Australia celebrates the first ever WorldPride of the Southern Hemisphere, taking place February 17 to March 5, 2023, and incorporating all the beloved experiences from Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Australian Gay Pride Week, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary during the celebration. Australia was chosen as the host for this global celebration particularly for the country’s longtime pride in its LGBTQIA+ community.
WorldPride will celebrate Australia’s brilliant and diverse LGBTQ+ community in a city renowned for its diversity, inclusivity and proud LGBTQ+ population. Sydney WorldPride marks the beginning of a broader festival celebrating art, sport, theatre, concerts, parties, First Nations programming, and a Human Rights Conference. More than 500,000 people are expected to participate in the festival, and the world-famous Mardi Gras Parade returns to Oxford Street for the first time in three years.
The 17-day combined events showcase Sydney Mardi Gras favourites like the spectacular Parade, Fair Day and Mardi Gras Party. Sydney WorldPride will feature world-class Opening and Closing Ceremonies, a Human Rights Conference and First Nations Gathering and a Pride March. 2023 also marks Australia’s 50th anniversary of the first Gay Pride Week, the 45th anniversary of the first Mardi Gras Parade, and 5th year anniversary of Australian marriage equality.
See below for a list of where to stay, play, and slay to celebrate your pride!
Eat & Drink
Pair unparalleled harbour views with top-tier seafood and French flair at Whalebridge on Circular Quay. Sit outside with a generous tower of the day’s finest catches, a hearty bouillabaisse de Marseille, or try a French take on the Aussie classic of poisson frites, aka fish and chips – just look out for seagulls! Shell House is a bar-hopper’s dream, a recently refurbished Art Deco building offering four venues in one. Grab an Old Fashioned at Clocktower, pair the sunset at Sky Bar with a natural wine, meet a mate for a Wagyu burger and beer at the laid-back Menzies Bistro, or sink into a booth for a late-night Mediterranean feast at Shell House Dining. For a looser vibe, veteran chef Dan Hong’s latest eatery MuMu takes Southeast Asian street food to new heights alongside yuzu slushies, divisive durian ice-cream and bright neon signs.
Home to some of Sydney WorldPride’s biggest events, our CBD is also the vibrant heart of Sydney’s leading theatre, dance and arts productions, as well as high-end nightlife. With world-renowned companies like Bangarra Dance Theatre, Bell Shakespeare, Opera Australia and more, the innovative, culture-pushing works inside the Sydney Opera House are just as awe-inspiring as the sails themselves. But if you’re more excited by the art of fashion, Splendour Tailored Tours has insider access to the city’s best boutiques and designer stores.
Scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb, taking in the city’s majesty from the 134-metre-high summit. And during Sydney WorldPride the daily climbs guided by a drag queen will add even more sparkle to the glistening harbour. You can also gain a richer understanding of the land you look out upon – the Burrawa Climb is led by First Nations climbers, reframing the harbour via the more than 60,000-year history of the oldest living culture in the world.
Dive into Sydney’s cutting-edge nightlife at Mary’s Underground, an intimate and unpretentious club where the LGBTQIA+ community turn looks and meet on the dancefloor. For a club night headlined with confetti cannons, Australian pop royalty and our biggest drag acts, ivy has you covered with POOF DOOF, which takes over two huge levels of the club each Saturday night.
It’s hard to beat the panoramic Sydney Harbour views of Intercontinental Sydney, though two new five-star boutiques, the Art Deco Kimpton Margot Hotel and the heritage Porter House Hotel, are filled with charm and are within walking distance of the festivities on Oxford Street.
Darlinghurst + Surrounds
Eat & Drink
Sydney’s inner east is unafraid of experimental menus, bold decor and, in the case of Surry Hills’ wine bar Poly, smart snacks. Head chef Mat Lindsay takes the no-nonsense, produce-driven menu of his sister restaurant, Chippendale’s esteemed Ester, a step further, transforming pies, onion rings and our classic pavlova dessert into unpretentious yet artful bar food.
Nearby is Pellegrino 2000, a garage trattoria that isn’t afraid of sacrilegious and delicious changes to Italian classics. Over in Potts Point, barramundi gets a Catalan twist at Parlar; for something more classic, cosy underground cocktail bar Dulcie’s is a time warp to King’s Cross’ cabaret bars long-gone, a drinking den of velvet booths and table service late into the night.
As the LGBTQIA+ centre of Sydney, Oxford Street is an essential stop during a WorldPride pilgrimage. Look no further than Stonewall or Universal for pop hits and heaving dancefloors, the latter often packed for mid-week drag competitions. The Oxford Hotel is three venues in one: upstairs drag-cabaret lounge Ginger’s, the welcoming, relaxed ground bar; and downstairs club Oxford Underground, which hosts everything from bear nights to drag bingo. A few doors down is Palms, attracting a diverse crowd of all identities and ages drawn to disco, ‘80s hits and ‘90s pop – expect to be twirled by a smiling stranger once or twice. And in the daylight hours, a walk down Oxford Street will offer hours of retail therapy, from drag costumes at the legendary House of Priscilla to party and parade attire at DailyJocks, and, towards Paddington, flagship stores of Australian labels like Double Rainbouu, Dion Lee, Nique and more.
Surry Hills’ Ace Hotel takes the style and polish that has made the boutique beloved across the globe and combined it with artist residencies and events with leading figures, lending the hotel a unique space in our city’s artistic community. Just across the road is the boutique Paramount House Hotel: in the same building, catch a classic film in the Art Deco Golden Age Cinema, have a proper flat white at Paramount Coffee Project, or take a sunrise yoga class at the rooftop Paramount Recreation Club. And right on Oxford Street is new boutique hotel Oxford House, offering a relaxing oasis – and glistening pool – in the heart of the city.
Eat & Drink
You’ve seen the shot countless times across social media: a cocktail overlooking Bondi Beach and a gorgeous white-stone pool. But Icebergs is much more than a photo opportunity – since 2002, restaurateur Maurice Terzini has met the venue’s beautiful surrounds with simple yet elegant Italian dining and silver service. Topikos, Greek for ‘local’, takes its bar snacks seriously, a welcoming beachside space where you can hop in for house made pita and souvlaki, or sit in the dining room for a seafood feast. And for a Bondi take on a brewery, newcomer Curly Lewis serves up its brews in a sleek small bar with snacks from the nearby Frank’s Deli.
With the world-famous waves of Bondi right there, it’s tempting to rent a board and paddle out. After a swim, it’s time to tackle the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, a 6km walk along cliffsides, the Waverley Cemetery and multiple beaches and swimming spots, like the rocky shores of Gordon’s Bay. And if you love a thrifty or artisan find, each Sunday from 10am to 4pm, local designers, jewellers, artists and vintage bric-a-brac sellers set up at Bondi Markets.
Homegrown boutique hotel QT has popped up across Australia, but there’s something special about the Bondi edition. Is it the beachside locale? The ultra-laidback, quintessentially Bondi feel? Or just that those dressing gowns feel really good after a day of sun and surf? Whatever it is, this five-star stay is a glamorous home for a Bondi sojourn.
Newtown + Surrounds
Eat & Drink
Newtown is known for its quirks, whether that be the density of cheap eats from around the world, its odd knick-knack shops or one-of-a-kind dining experiences. Ante is a perfect example, a sake and vinyl bar with more than 60 types of the Japanese rice wine and 2500 records on offer.
Nearby on Enmore Road, a rockabilly pink and purple salon façade hides freshly opened Bar Louise, a modern Spanish restaurant from the team behind the nearby Continental Deli, famous for its canned ‘Mar-tinnys’. After earning cult status for several pop-ups, A.P. Bakery has opened a small outpost in the backstreets of Newtown. Head to Bucknell Street for their classic pastries alongside inventive baked goods using native ingredients, like a ricotta and warrigal greens pie. While King Street has plenty of pubs, Newtown Hotel is a solid go-to, with a terrace overlooking the strip, perfect for people-watching.
Made immortal by the opening scenes of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Erskineville’s The Imperial pays tribute to the iconic film with its Drag ‘N’ Dine shows at the Priscilla bistro. And in the downstairs club, you’ll find alternative and occasionally outrageous shows. No trip to Sydney is complete without a sweep of King Street and Enmore Road’s countless vintage shops, from Newtown Vintage to SWOP and the treasure trove of options. Want someone to show you the way around? Soak in the DIY spirit of Newtown with a Street Art & Food Tour with Local Sauce.
Straddling the inner west and the CBD, Chippendale’s Old Clare Hotel is the best of both worlds, an elegant yet welcoming boutique hotel filled with character – and a rooftop pool. On Enmore Road, the Urban Newtown offers industrial-chic rooms right in the centre of the inner west, right next to the Enmore Theatre, second-hand stores, countless restaurants and Cow and The Moon’s world-class gelato.
Although WorldPride only takes place from February 17-March 5, 2023, Australia plans to continue the celebrations throughout the year with LGBTQIA+ focused experiences, including:
- TasPride Queens Ball (June 12, 2023)
- Dark Mofo (June 8-22, 2023)
- Broken Heel Festival, Broken Hill (TBD 2023)
- Big Gay Day at the Wickham (April 30, 2023)
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.