WorldPride 2023 Is the Southern Hemisphere's Largest LGBTQ+ Celebration — Here's What It's Like to Be There

Getting there was half the fun on Qantas's Pride Flight.

<p>Daniel Boud</p>

Daniel Boud

With the Southern Hemisphere’s first WorldPride event underway in Sydney, the city — already a favorite of queer travelers — is positively bedecked in rainbows. From Oxford Street to Circular Quay, Pride flags are everywhere. And nighttime brings it to another level: Harbour Bridge, various hotels, and downtown skyscrapers getting into the mix, with rainbow lighting as standard operating procedure.

Flying on Qantas's Pride Flight

The old saying claims that getting there is half the fun. But the journey to Sydney on the special Qantas Pride Flight felt like ALL of the fun. Passengers in all classes were welcomed into the upscale Qantas lounge at LAX, where they were met by a rainbow carpet, drag queens in flight attendant garb, rainbow lighting, and more. There were musical performances and comedians on a special Pride stage set up in the middle of the lounge — not to mention a DJ.

Once on board, the service was fantastic, with a special menu that included fun additions like Kylie Minogue signature wines, drag bingo, logoed pride pajamas, queer entertainment, and a makeup masterclass. The airline even had featured WorldPride content as part of the inflight entertainment system.

The Opening Festivities

The Live and Proud: Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert on Friday, Feb. 24 was a star-studded spectacle under clear skies, with 20,000 spectators packing The Domain, the city’s 34-hectare open-air event space. Performances from Courtney Act, Jessica Mauboy, Charli XCX, and Kylie Minogue kept the crowd dancing into the evening hours. Minogue’s sister, Dannii, even joined her on stage toward the end of the set for the song "All The Lovers," heightening the excitement.

The next evening, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade wound through the city for several hours, led by the group Dykes on Bikes, and featuring colorful costumes, an assortment of barely clothed performers from across the globe, and of course, hundreds of amazing floats. Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, became the first PM to march in the event.

<p>Don Arnold/Getty Images</p>

Don Arnold/Getty Images

<p>Roni Bintang/Getty Images</p>

Roni Bintang/Getty Images

<p>Demetrius Fordham/Getty Images</p>

Demetrius Fordham/Getty Images

<p>Brendon Thorne/Getty Images</p>

Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Special Events — and What's to Come

The Powerhouse Museum has a special exhibition running through the end of the year called Absolutely Queer, celebrating design in the LGBTQ+ community. Curator Tuan Nguyen explained that the focus is on pride, protest, and creativity. And although it focuses on contemporary works, they wanted to have some historic images and objects.

“Queer creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum, we’re always standing on someone else’s shoulders,” he told Travel + Leisure.

The Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference is running from March 1 - 3 at the city’s International Convention Center and is said to be the largest meeting of its kind ever held in Asia Pacific. March 2 will see the Blak & Deadly First Nations Gala Concert, a glittering event focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait LGBTQIA+SB artistry, held at the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Other upcoming events include Laugh Out Proud, a queer comedy gala; Sissy Ball, Australia’s largest vogue ball with legendary houses from across the world competing; and a Pride Bridge Climb on top of the famed Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The two weeks of celebrations conclude on March 5 with a Pride march across the Sydney Harbour Bridge; 50,000 participants are expected. Lastly, a closing concert dubbed Rainbow Republic will be held, again at The Domain. Performers there will include Kim Petras, MUNA, Keiynan Lonsdale, G Flip, Peach PRC, Alter Boy, BVT, and Vetta Borne.




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