Sydney Opera House reveals its first-ever Mardi Gras float

Sydney Opera House Mardi Gras Rehearsals - photo by Daniel BoudThe soaring sails of Sydney’s icon set to sparkle in tonight’s 40th anniversary Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. For the first time in Mardi Gras’ history, a specially designed Sydney Opera House float will roll up Oxford Street in tonight’s world-famous Sydney Mardi Gras Parade.

Titled Out at the House, the glittering Sydney Opera House float features a 10-metre sparkling replica of the famous sails, a glitter cannon and a 70-strong group of marching ushers, dancers and orchestra members, led by the legendary Dame Joan Sutherland, played by long-time Opera Australia employee Bobby McKenzie.

Ahead of its Mardi Gras debut, the Sydney Opera House revealed the float designed by parade veteran George Savoulis, on the Sydney Opera House Forecourt together with staff and performers dressed in the costumes designed by Academy Award-winner Tim Chappel.

The float project has been led by a committee of Sydney Opera House staff, many of whom are members of Sydney’s LGBTQI+ community. More than 120 employees volunteered to help with construction, rehearsals, costume-and-prop-making, and will march in tonight’s parade alongside performers and crew from the Opera House’s Resident Companies.

“A few years ago Opera House staff hatched a plan to be part of the Mardi Gras 40th anniversary. It is so exciting to see this dream become a reality,” said Sydney Opera House CEO, Louise Herron AM. “It has been a huge team effort and we’re very proud to be able to celebrate with Sydney’s LGBTIQ+ community and to support an event that represents our city at its best – diverse, equal, inclusive, joyous.”

The project has been made possible by funding from Opera House Major Partner Energy Australia and some 15 of its employees will march with the float in tonight’s parade.

“The Sydney Opera House has had a rich history with the early days of the Mardi Gras Festival,” said Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu. “So it’s a real thrill to have them join us in uniting two icons of Sydney, the Opera House and Mardi Gras, in a celebration of diversity and creativity for our 40th Anniversary Festival.”

The Sydney Opera House is a masterpiece that belongs to all Australians. It is the country’s number one tourist destination and its busiest performing arts centre, welcoming more than 8.2 million visitors a year on site and hosting 1,800 performances attended by 1.5 million people.

Deloitte has estimated the total social asset value of the Sydney Opera House to Australia at $4.6 billion. On its 40th Anniversary in 2013, the Opera House embarked upon a Decade of Renewal to prepare it for future generations of artists, audiences and visitors.

The 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade takes place tonight (Saturday 3 March) from 7.00pm. For more information, visit: For more information about the Sydney Opera House, visit: for details.

Image: Sydney Opera House Mardi Gras Rehearsals – photo by Daniel Boud