Less than three months before Sydney WorldPride 2023 kicks off, Matt Fistonich explores the attractions of Australia’s crown jewel!
2023 will be the first WorldPride event to ever be held in the Southern Hemisphere, and where more appropriate than the country that brought the world the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Kath & Kim!
Sydney may just be a three-hour flight from Auckland, but feels a world away. From the moment we step off the plane at Kingsford Smith International Airport, there is already a palpable excitement for Sydney WorldPride 2023 in the air.
We’re staying at Sheraton Grand (Marriott.com) on the edge of Sydney’s beautiful Hyde Park, known for it’s elegant Anzac Memorial, Pool of Reflection and flying-fox (bat) colonies,
silhouetted by the moonlight as they fly overhead. It is also just a stone’s throw from LGBTQ+ nightlife hub, Oxford Street.
As we pull up at the awe-inspiring entrance and enter the majestic marbled reception area, it is confirmed the Hyde Park Hotel truly deserves to be called ‘grand’. Rooms are spacious, modern and luxurious with impressive views over the park. The pool and gym facilities are top notch and with friendly, accommodating staff, we’re not left wanting for anything.
Like any good Sydney itinerary, our schedule is filled with some of the city’s finest flavours. In recent years, Sydney’s culinary scene has surpassed even Melbourne, and with thousands descending on this beautiful city for WorldPride, it’s essential to make your restaurant reservations early to avoid disappointment.
With that in mind, our recommendations include:
■ Bustling Italian, Bar Totti’s (merivale.com), which boasts an atmosphere so effervescent that even a Monday night feels like a weekend. With a menu filled with fabulously fresh and colourful dishes, this is a great place to start a night out.
■ Middle Eastern-influenced, Mediterranean-inspired gem, NOMAD (nomad.sydney), is ideal for a catch up with friends. It boasts a melting pot menu that truly represents it’s diverse home suburb, Surry Hills. This converted warehouse is a perfect destination for sharing small plates and housemade charcuterie.
■ For something a little more romantic, look no further than Circular Quay’s Whalebridge (whalebridge.com.au) – the menu is simple yet elegant French Bistro. Sit outside on a warm summer night, share a seafood platter next to the glittering harbour, and tell me you haven’t fallen in love by the time you’ve finished dessert.
■ If you’ve been together for decades and need more than a pretty view to spark up conversation, then perhaps dinner and a show is called for, and nowhere does that better than the iconic Sydney Opera House (sydneyoperahouse.com). Nibble fine local cheeses and sip champagne while taking in intimate cabaret performances in one of the world’s most beautiful modern venues. We checked out ‘L’Hotel’, a burlesque/ circus hybrid originally commissioned for Adelaide’s flourishing cabaret festival. This is an experience assured to inspire a renewed spark!
However, there are more iconic things to do in Sydney than just eat and drink, so we looked to burn off some calories at some of the city’s most entertaining and informative attractions.
Especially for WorldPride, Bridge Climb Sydney (bridgeclimb.com) is offering a special Pride-themed climb up the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Strike a pose and fly a rainbow flag with your drag queen host, while taking in the 360-degree view of Sydney Harbour, before finishing with a congratulatory drink at the celebration bar. An ideal afternoon activity.
For a deeper look into Sydney’s queer community, you can’t miss Sydney’s Powerhouse Ultimo – Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (maas.museum). This contemporary museum sits in the heart of Sydney with exhibitions focused on arts, science, innovation and design. For Sydney WorldPride 2023, Powerhouse Ultimo is gearing up to put on Absolutely Queer – an exhibition celebrating Sydney’s leading queer creatives who are reshaping attitudes towards their community through their work, creative processes and personal stories.
Opening in time for WorldPride 2023 will be the city’s first queer museum, Qtopia Sydney (qtopiasydney.com.au). This museum will explore and showcase the LGBTQIA+ community through the lens of history, culture, art and contemporary issues, including exhibitions on the AIDS/ HIV pandemic and Australia’s journey to marriage equality.
The complete Sydney WorldPride Festival Guide (sydneyworldpride.com/festivalguide) is out now, featuring more than 300 events, including Australian pop superstar and international gay icon, Kylie Minogue, headlining the Live and Proud: Opening Concert.
Don’t forget to support local gay businesses that have suffered through the pandemic.
Oxford Street remains the heart of Sydney’s queer nightlife and long-standing venues like Palms on Oxford, Stonewall Hotel and The Beresford Hotel are always a must visit any time of the year.
If you are going to visit one Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in your lifetime, make this the one and celebrate WorldPride in your own backyard.
Matt Fistonich’s Sydney experience was hosted by Destination NSW visitnsw.com.