Sydney’s Mardi Gras Sissy Ball has reached worldwide legendary status as one of the most unique and visually stimulating Pride parties on the planet. This year’s edition promises to return louder and larger than before.

Chosen for: Driving Diversity and Preserving Culture.

With its beginnings in 1978, Mardi Gras is not an ordinary Pride celebration, and nor is it a protest but something more like a queer carnival. To say its audience pulls a look is an understatement; its floats are often a glittering spectacle, and dykes on bikes (exactly what it sounds like) pull up en masse on their Harley Davidsons. This year’s event promises to be more bombastic. With Sydney hosting the WorldPride, Mardi Gras is set to bring global activists and organisers together in the host country as well as a surge in international visitors.

The Sissy Ball itself has been the crown of Mardi Gras since 2019. As a new ball – the largest in Australia – it’s a testament to the country’s voguing scene, a space centring queer people of colour and transgender folk, as voguing balls traditionally have done since their inception in New York City. The Sissy Ball is a moment of collective joy, fantasy and embodiment.

Mardi Gras Sissy Ball
Angel Ho

For what will be its fifth annual celebration, this year’s chapter will be hosted by Godmother Kilia of the House of Slé, who will bring an esteemed panel of international judges from Down Under to score the walks. As it’s WorldPride, performers from voguing houses around the globe will be invited to take to the stage. While Prides can be overwhelming, increasingly corporate and apolitical, the Sissy Ball carves out a more authentic moment that pays homage to the history of a queer subculture, as well as a chance for reverie. Voguing balls provide an escape from the harsh realities of life for gender nonconforming people, and the Sissy Ball is no different.

For those heading to Sydney for Mardi Gras 2023, there’s a programme of great events happening – from exhibitions on Sydney's queer nightlife legacy and the fight against AIDS in Australia, to art installations and performances from the likes of Angel Olsen to Peaches. This is a brilliant time for visitors to soak up some local Sydney LGBTQIA+ history and culture during their travels.

Mardi Gras Sissy Ball will take place at Sydney Town Hall on 4 March 2023.

Mardi Gras Sissy Ball