Mardi Gras 2021 Parade: Best Floats And Outfits As Rita Ora, RuPaul's Drag Race Take Centre Stage

Alicia Vrajlal
·Editor, HuffPost Australia
·4-min read
Dykes on Bikes parade around the SCG during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Dykes on Bikes parade around the SCG during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade changed locations from Oxford Street to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) this year, but it was still bursting with more colour, glitter, pride and passion than ever on Saturday night.

Tens of thousands of locals turned out to watch community groups take centre stage in the stadium on various floats, as well as celebrity performances from the likes of Rita Ora, Montaigne, Sneaky Sound System, G Flip and Electric Fields, plus the RuPaul’s Drag Race cast reveal.

Rita Ora performs on stage during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Rita Ora performs on stage during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Rita Ora performs at the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (Photo: SBS)
Rita Ora performs at the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (Photo: SBS)

Ben Graetz delivered a Welcome to Country to open the official proceedings which featured John Leha and singer/songwriter Scott Hunter, as well as Koomurri dancers, NAISDA dancers and Buuja Butterfly dancers.

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After that the Dykes on Bikes performed a lap to signal the start of the parade led with the First Nations and 78ers floats.

“We usually have 150 to 200 bikes for the parade,” said Dykes on Bikes president Emily Saunders, explaining the coronavirus pandemic has affected participation. “This year we have 68 bikes.”

The 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on March 6, 2021. (Photo: DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)
The 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on March 6, 2021. (Photo: DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)
Spectators enjoy the atmosphere from the stands during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Spectators enjoy the atmosphere from the stands during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Parade goers take part in the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Parade goers take part in the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Dykes on Bikes parade around the SCG during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Dykes on Bikes parade around the SCG during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The First Nations float had a strong message for spectators, paying tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement as it paraded in the stadium.

“Black lives still matter,” said Jack Williams who was part of the float.

“It’s an ongoing fight and we’re here and ready to continue to fight for our people. The costumes we’re wearing this year, it’s to give away the look of a military vibe because we’re fighting against police brutality and the murders in custody of Black people.

“Our key messages this year for our float are fighting against deaths in custody, we’re fighting for our brother boys and sister girls and we’re fighting for a positive community.”

Participants enjoy the atmosphere during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Participants enjoy the atmosphere during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Haka For Life and Corroboree for Life at the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Haka For Life and Corroboree for Life at the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Troye Sivan takes part during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Troye Sivan takes part during the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Singer Jack Vidgen takes part in the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Singer Jack Vidgen takes part in the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
The City of Sydney float at the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
The City of Sydney float at the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

Other organisations that had floats included SWOP (which supports sex workers and community), Colour of our Community and Neurodiversity Rainbow, while Tik Tok, NRL, L’Oreal Australia, NSW Police and Taronga Conservation Society Australia also joined the parade with floats.

Australian singer Troye Sivan joined radio presenter Carrie Bickmore and Tommy Little on the 2Day FM float.

Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore attends the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore attends the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Trikone Australia which empowers queer South Asians at the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Trikone Australia which empowers queer South Asians at the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Biconic at the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Biconic at the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

In its 43rd year, the Mardi Gras celebrations were moved to the SCG due to COVID-19.

“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,” said Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger.

Kruger said ahead of the event that Oxford Street remains the “spiritual home” of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations, but the new location allows physical distancing and contract tracing requirements to be met.

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The theme for 2021 is ‘Rise’, a timely one given the challenges of this year, calling for people to rise again through love, compassion, respect and understanding.

“With a greater focus on community, our 2021 Parade will move away from large floats, centring instead on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props that make it such a phenomenon to witness,” said Kruger.

With the event broadcast on TV for those who couldn’t attend in person, this year’s SBS hosts were drag queen Courtney Act, TV presenter Narelda Jacobs, and comedians Joel Creasey and Zoë Coombs Marr.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost Australia and has been updated.