Holidays

The World's Best Costume Parties

by Sarah Gold

Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, Sydney

What it is: Arguably the world's biggest, most in-your-face celebration of gay culture. Originally begun as a protest march in 1978 (when homosexuality was still illegal in Sydney), it's since grown into a weeks-long fabulous-fest worthy of Priscilla herself.

Party time: The first Saturday night in March. "Warm_up" parties and concerts start in late February, but the parade and postparade ball is where it's at. For 2007, this means March 3.

The getup: Your flamboyant, out-and-proud best. You'll be sharing the joy with leather men, dykes on bikes, oiled hunks in "budgie smugglers" (Speedos) and goggles, Vegas-style showgirls of indeterminate gender, drag queens both stunning and garish, and partiers wearing rainbow flags as capes, diapers, and headdresses.

Where it's at: Hyde Park, in Sydney's Central Business District.

What goes down: The parade moves from Hyde Park through the neighborhood of Darlinghurst, and ends at Moore Park. The ball gets going afterward at several different venues around the park—most notably the Royal Hall of Industries, where the all-night dance party has live performers and marathon sets by more than a dozen DJs. Get your tickets at least a month early—they sell out fast.

Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras information: www.mardigras.org.au

Mardi Gras Ball tickets: premier.ticketek.com.au

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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