Sydneyâ€™s iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of revellers and international tourists, will not march through the cityâ€™s centre in 2021.
Instead, the 43rd edition of the parade on Oxford Street, which has been celebrated annually along the strip since 1978, will move to the nearby Sydney Cricket Ground, in a scaled-back, Covid-safe event.
To be held on Saturday 6 March, capacity for the event will be limited to 23,000 tickets â€“ about half of the groundâ€™s capacity â€“ with organisers charging $20 for admission.
Albert Kruger, Mardi Gras chief executive, said the event will â€œmove away from large floats, centring instead on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props that make it such a phenomenon to witnessâ€.
â€œIt was important to Mardi Gras that we rise to the occasion and to give the community the creative platform to express their pride to the world. The 2021 parade may look different to how it has been in the past, but we feel very lucky to be able to give this opportunity to our communities during these times.â€
â€œNot only is the SCG close to our spiritual home of Oxford Street, but it also provides the safest venue for us to hold the event and meet requirements of physical distancing and contact tracing,â€ Kruger said.
The Mardi Gras parade in 2021, with a theme of â€œriseâ€, will also be broadcast live on television.
Kruger said the parade will be the centrepiece of year-round events and initiatives in 2021 to better engage the LGBTQ+ community as it adjusts to pandemic-related restrictions.
Clover Moore, Sydney lord mayor, said it was â€œpoignant that this yearâ€™s parade was the last major event held before we had to go into lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirusâ€.
â€œI know many in our community, myself included, have held onto our happy memories of Mardi Gras 2020 to get us through this challenging year.
â€œMardi Gras will look different in 2021, but importantly it will give us the opportunity to come together safely and celebrate. Of course, I look forward to the day when tens of thousands of Sydneysiders and visitors from around Australia and the world can gather on Oxford Street once more.â€
The Covid-safe edition of Sydneyâ€™s Mardi gras will be the first in recent years to not welcome international tourists, with Australiaâ€™s border having remained closed since it was shut at the outbreak of the pandemic in March.
The Mardi Gras is the latest of Sydneyâ€™s world-famous events to be significantly scaled-back out of Covid-19 precaution.
In September, authorities outlined how a cut-back, shorter version of Sydneyâ€™s New Yearâ€™s Eve fireworks will go ahead this year, with local leaders pushing ahead with events as a symbol of hope to be â€œbeamed around the worldâ€.
Tickets for the 2021 Mardi Gras event go on sale on Monday 9 November here.