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Pack up your sequins for a Mardi Gras roadtrip

Sydney and regional NSW is rolling out the holiday red carpet for thousands of Mardi Gras merrymakers who will travel to Sydney to celebrate the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival.

Sydney and regional NSW is rolling out the holiday red carpet for thousands of Mardi Gras merrymakers who will travel to Sydney to celebrate the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival.

The annual Mardi Gras Festival attracts more than 25,000 interstate and overseas attendees to take part in some of the Festival’s month-long series of events than range from Fair Day to theatre, from drama to drag shows. More than 130,000 spectators, family and friends will cheer on 10,000 participants when the annual Mardi Gras Parade weaves its way down Oxford St.

“The Mardi Gras Parade is one of the greatest public celebrations in the world and showcases Sydney’s amazing diversity, style and glamour.”

                  Sandra Chipchase, CEO of Destination NSW

“Sydney will be packed with sequins and sparkles, leathers and feathers as travellers from across the globe flock to Sydney, but the fun doesn’t have to stop when the last disco ball is turned off. Sydney and NSW has much to offer its visitors,” says Ms Chipchase.

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As well as enjoying the Festival, Destination NSW is urging Mardi Gras travellers to look beyond the Oxford St Parade route to visit Sydney and regional NSW sights.

Here are some tips for Mardi Gras merry-makers:

Mardi Gras Mayhem and Merriment

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  • To start with – you haven’t ‘done’ Mardi Gras until you’ve attended the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at 7pm on Saturday 7 March, 2015. There’s plenty of room along the Parade route from which enthusiastic fans can view more than 140 floats.
  • Did someone say disco? And karaoke? Exclusively for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival BridgeClimb has both at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From 25 February to 9 March, beneath Sydney summer skies and a glittering mirror ball, you can dance like a diva to disco beats as you belt out your favourite karaoke classics.
  • The Oxford Street entertainment strip hosts many major Sydney Mardi Gras events and is home to the city’s best-known gay venues. To give your dance shoes a workout, head to clubs like ARQ, Midnight Shift and Phoenix Bar.
  • Over in Erksineville, The Imperial Hotel has been a Sydney drag show institution for decades. Immortalised in the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the Imperial currently features drag queens; Felicity and Friends.

Irresistible Road Trips

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  • The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is less than two hours from Sydney. Visitors can potter around arts and crafts stores and cafés in Leura, Katoomba and Blackheath. Don’t miss a visit to Three Sisters at Echo Point and take in part in 4.2 kilometre bushwalk down the ‘The Giant Stairway’ and along the valley floor to Katoomba’s Scenic Railway, the world steepest railway incline passenger train.
  • About two hours’ drive north of Sydney, the famous Hunter Valley wine region is set against a dramatic mountain range with lush vineyards covering the rolling hills. This delightful region is home to some of Australia’s top winemakers and food producers.
  • After a heady rainbow-coloured Mardi Gras relax on the whitest sands in the world at Hyams Beach in the Shoalhaven area. Pristine beaches with crystal clear waters await along the White Sands Walk, starting at Vincentia’s Greenfield Beach and including Chinamans, Hyams and Seamans beaches.

The harbour city’s must-do attractions

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  • Be a bronzed beauty at Bondi Beach but, for safety’s sake, be sure to swim between the red and yellow flags! Pick up a delicious gelato cone from Gelato Messina and stroll the beach strip, watching the locals at play.
  • Frolic on a Ferry between Circular Quay and Manly while watching the CBD’s gleaming skyscrapers give way to glamorous waterfront mansions, swathes of bushland and secret sandy coves as you move through the harbour towards the Heads.
  • Explore the secluded charms of Watsons Bay with the Gap Park with its sweeping views out to sea and back towards the Harbour Bridge.

What do think one shouldn’t miss out visiting Sydney?