The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is gearing up for another fabulous year in collaboration with World Pride as the sparkler on the cake. The annual festival started in Darlinghurst in 1978 as protesters gathered in solidarity with the queer community. Now, more than 40 years later, the colour, the floats and the pride that sweep NSW will see thousands pour onto Oxford Street for the festivities. This year's Oxford Street parade will include Penny Wong and Anthony Albanese marching, marking the first time a prime minister has walked in the festival. This year's theme "Gather, Dream, Amplify" was developed by both Sydney Mardi Gras and Sydney WorldPride in partnership with First Nations and LGBTQIA+ communities. Mardi Gras 2023 marks the 45th anniversary of the first parade and also the fifth year of marriage equality in Australia. IN OTHER NEWS: What began as a march determined to implement change has become a beloved pride icon - and the biggest party in the southern hemisphere. Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert Australian icons are booked to perform at the WorldPride opening ceremony, including Kylie Minogue and Jess Mauboy. International popstar Charlie XCX will be performing along our local talent, with Courtney Act and Casey Donovan hosting. Sydney's Domain will open it's doors to ticket holders from 3pm Friday February 24, and those who haven't secured tickets can watch on the ABC's broadcast from 7pm-9.30pm. The party will kick-on from 11pm with DJ Stereogamous. The Mardi Gras parade returns to Oxford Street The much-loved parade kicks off from 6pm Saturday February 25, wrapping up at 11pm. This year 12,500 marchers and more than 200 floats will bring the party back to Oxford Street, after two years of holding the event at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Australian pop duo, The Veronicas, will be belting out "Untouched" from atop the American Express float. Plan the best vantage point using this route map. For those needing something more accessible, viewing spots with flat terrain, quiet areas and alcohol free zoning are available here. The Vengaboys party bus It's true, the Vengabus is coming, and everybody's jumping. But this bus follows a Sydney city circle loop, rather than the traditional New York to San Francisco route. The Dutch euro-dance group will make an appearance on Uber's hop-on, hop-off bus, alongside a stellar lineup of entertainers and educators, featuring some of Australia's most beloved drag queens. The bus runs between 6.30pm-10pm during the festival's three weekends, February 17-19, February 24-26 and March 3-5. The bus leaves from the Australian Museum on William Street, then heads to St James Station, Powerhouse Museum, Central Station, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Paddington before returning to William Street. Mardi Gras Sissy Ball The Mardi Gras Sissy Ball will celebrate Australia and New Zealand's transgender communities with a vogue ball. The event kicks off from 6pm Saturday March 4 from the Sydney Town Hall and will include competitors from legendary queer houses. The entrants will battle it out in a range of categories, seeking tens across the board. Attendance and registration information can be found here.