Sydney is counting down to Saturday night's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, with almost 200 floats and more than 10,000 marchers set to parade down Oxford street in the annual extravaganza of glitter, rainbows and sexual diversity.
The parade, which marks its 38th year in 2016, kicks off at 7pm Saturday at the corner of College Street next to Hyde Park and will proceed down the iconic east Sydney route to its end point near Moore Park Road.
This year 178 floats are taking part along with high-profile athletes and celebrities, the first ever rugby league float, and about 12,000 marchers.
The festival itself is expected to be enjoyed by more than a quarter of a million spectators under what are forecast to be clear skies.
On the eve of the parade, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said no other city in the world celebrated its LGBTIQ population like Sydney.
“It’s high time Australia caught up with the rest of the community, and many countries, states and cities globally, and legalised same sex marriage,” Moore said.
“The march has long championed equality -- but while the community’s on board, we’re still falling behind countries across the globe that have legalised same sex marriage."
Parade organisers are promising to bring the city "to a standstill" for the beloved event, which reportedly suffered a $336,057 loss last year.
The themed floats -- always the focus of the parade -- will also include groups from Muslims Against Homophobia, Gayby Baby, Australian Olympians and Paralympians and Gay For Ruby Rose.
Organisers have listed a comprehensive guide to free accessible viewing areas, including amenities, drop off zones and wheelchair access as well as the best public transport options to and from the event.
The official Mardi Gras after party will take place at the end of the parade at the Hordern Pavilion where thousands of revellers are expected to dance the night away.
Notable attendees this year include former Olympic swimmer Daniel Kowalski, Australian drag queen superstar Courtney Act, Austrian pop artist Conchita Wurst and even opposition leader Bill Shorten.
And now for something completely different ... I had lunch today with Eurovision sensation and all-round nice gal-guy Conchita ... So articulate and amusing ... Here in Sydney for the weekend's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, to perform with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and to spread the word about Vienna ... #conchita #conchitawurst #sydneysymphonyorchestra #sso #sydneymardigras #vienna
Shorten will reportedly ride on top of the Rainbow Labor float in Saturday's parade.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will also reportedly attend the event.
The leaders' appearances will come amid ongoing dispute between the major political parties over gay marriage. Labor has called for a free vote in parliament to decide the issue while the Coalition wants a national plebiscite after the federal election.Suggest a correction