Last night, an estimated 250,000 spectators took to Sydney’s Oxford and Flinders Streets to watch more than 180 groups and entries featuring over 12,000 participants take part in the world’s biggest celebration of the LGBTQI community, the 39th annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

Born from a single night of celebration turned political protest, the true Mardi Gras spirit lives on today. The Mardi Gras theme of Creating Equality saw thousands of LGBTQI people and their supporters from all over the world come together in a sea of colour to celebrate creative self-expression and champion equal rights.

“The efforts of everyone involved in this year’s Parade helped in creating a sparkling spectacle of self-expression, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu. “The passion and enthusiasm of the Parade participants and spectators made for a truly show stopping experience.”

“While we celebrated our wonderfully colourful community, we also had a number of floats dedicated to important issues. Marriage equality, refugees, mental health and the recognition of transgender rights were all represented widely in this year’s Parade, and we were thrilled to have the First Nations people, who worked together with the original 1978 Mardi Gras marchers to begin the Parade.”

“One of the main Mardi Gras floats featured eight 2.4 metre high 3-D equality letters on wheels that spanned over 20 metres. A cross between a moving sculptural installation, parade float and giant photographic exhibition, each letter featured a different participant from the My People I My Tribe community project.”

“This initiative was born as a response to last year’s attack on Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and it was a wonderful sight to see so many of our community members come together for this moment on Parade night,” added Casu.

As the shiny remains of glitter began to be swept from the streets of Sydney, many of the revellers continued to celebrate Mardi Gras at the after-Party, which took over several venues in Moore Park until 8.00am this morning.

Guests of the Party were treated to an incredible line up of international and homegrown music acts including: Australian pop icons The Veronicas, Client Liaison, Steve Grand, Sydney’s Nat Conway, Peyton, Luke Anthony and DJs Sylvin Wood (FR), Joelby (UK), High Low (FR), Anhy (FR) and local favourites Kate Monroe, DJ Tiny, Rob Davis, THE SWEATS, Dan Murphy, Corey Craig, Citizen Jane, Oxford Hustlers, JimJam and DJ Mickey.

The 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade was proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras season is supported by the City of Sydney and this year featured more than 90 events around Sydney from 17 February to 5 March 2017. For more information, visit: www.mardigras.org.au for details.

Image: Participants at the 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade (supplied)