mardi gras sydney side bar

Where to celebrate Mardi Gras in Sydney

Sydney comes alive for our annual Mardi Gras Festival, celebrating LGBTQI pride in a big, bright and wonderful way. From street parades to bars and clubs, free events to paid parties, there are so many ways you can get involved in celebrating this yearly event.

Below, we’ve wrapped up some of the best things to do for Mardi Gras on a backpacker budget, so you can keep the celebrations going all week long.

Where to stay during Mardi Gras

First things first, accommodation! Mardi Gras events are spread across many suburbs across the city so when booking your accommodation, look for somewhere central and close to public transport which will make getting around a lot easier!

If you’re looking for a conveniently located home to rest your head between the fun, check out our dorms and private rooms at Wake Up! Sydney Central. Our doors are just across the road from the city’s main Central Station and within walking distance to many of the nearby festivities.

The Mardi Gras Parade

At Oxford Street, you’ll be joined by around 500,000 party-goers who line the streets and almost every balcony to revel in the Mardi Gras Parade. The Parade starts from Hyde Park (by Museum Station), and the rainbow of colour continues along Oxford Street, before heading into Flinders Street and then eventually entering Moore Park.

Naturally, the biggest crowds are along the Oxford Street strip, as well as Taylor Square, but you’ll find slightly more space to move and groove the further away from the city you head. Or, settle in at the very start by the Elizabeth & Liverpool Street intersection (this is where you’ll see the floats setting up, dancers preparing, and the Parade kicking off) 

Hot Tip: Plan to arrive early, as the streets fill suuuper quickly.
Cost: This is your budget-friendly option, as it’s completely free to watch the parade from street level.
How to get there: From Wake Up! Sydney Central, catch the 9 minute train from Central Station to Museum Station. From there, you can sit tight in that area, or walk up towards Oxford Street ’til you’ve found your perfect vantage point!


The vibe and colour of Newtown make it a great place to get in the Mardi Gras spirit. Along the main strip of King Street, you’ll find a tonne of bars and eateries to revel in the atmosphere, as well as the best range of vintage shops for you to find the perfect Mardi Gras outfit!

How to get there: From Wake Up! Sydney Central, catch the T2 train from Central Station across the road, which will take you to the heart of King St in just 15 minutes.

Side Bar

If Side Bar’s Mardi Gras Glitter Party from last year is anything to go by, you are set for a brilliant and bright night! Located right underneath Wake Up! Sydney Central, Side Bar is Sydney’s go-to student & backpacker bar… and it’s no exception at Mardi Gras time. Whether you head there for your Parade after-party or stay there for the whole night while reveling in the fabulousness, you’re not going to be disappointed. Keep an eye out on Side Bar’s Facebook page to stay in the loop!

Free City Tour with Wake Up! Sydney

If you’re staying with us at Wake Up! Sydney, be sure to join our Guided City Tour on Friday 28 February. We’ll be showing you the main sights of Sydney, and you’ll get a sneak peek of Oxford Street which is the perfect opportunity to familiarise yourself with the area… and even scout out your spot for Saturday’s parade!

The City Tour is free for all guests, as part of our Daily Activity schedule.

Fair Day

On Sunday 16 February, Victoria Park in Camperdown is your place to unite and shine bright at Fair Day. You’ll find community stalls, plenty of food and drink options, live music with a spotlight on favourite queer hip hop artists, sets from Bec Sandridge and Ngaiire, DJs from sundown and… wait for it… Doggywood – a competition where precious fur babies strut their stuff for the crown. 

Cost: It’s free to attend Fair Day!
How To Get There: From Wake Up! Sydney Central, head to bus stop Stand M, and hop on one of the many buses that go to Victoria Park.

‘The Gays Are Revolting’ Live Show

Australia’s ultimate queer podcast ‘The Gays Are Revolting‘ are recording a live show for Mardi Gras in Sydney this year… for the very first time! If you haven’t tuned into the podcast yet, then get set for a candid, informative and hilarious take on modern life as gay men!

The live show is held at Giant Dwarf in Redfern, starting at 7:30pm on Friday 28 February.

Cost: $35.00
How To Get There: From Wake Up! Sydney, it’s only a 13 minute walk to get to Giant Dwarf. Soak up all the atmosphere en route!

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