Sydney's iconic Mardi Gras parade might be looking different this year, but you can still dress up for a night of fabulous fun at The Illawarra Hotel's viewing party.
But it's a case of first in, best dressed, for the March 6 event due to COVID restrictions.
It will be hosted by The Rainbow Underground, which was one of 30 lucky groups across the nation that received grants to hold viewing parties for the main parade, under a special initiative by Mardi Gras and Facebook Australia.
The Rainbow Underground events co-ordinator Michael Emmett said they are "very excited and very privileged to showcase Mardi Gras to the Wollongong scene".
"After such a traumatic year, everyone needed to have something bright and colourful to happen this year," they said.
Facebook Australia Director of Policy Mia Garlick said that the venues "highlight the resilience and spirit of the LGBTQI community."
Other venues included are located in Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Newtown and Manly.
"This grants fund will help bring the magic of Mardi Gras to communities across Australia, and support many of the LGBTQI performers and venues who have been impacted by the events of the past 12 months."
While the parade is due to begin broadcasting at 6pm, viewing party attendees are encouraged to come at 5pm, when the entertainers arrive, to start having some fun.
Expect to see colours galore when you get there, with rainbow confetti and "everything that glitters and sparkles" according to Emmett.
The night will be hosted by local drag queen Lucy Furr, who will provide commentary on the extravaganza throughout the night.
There will also be performances by queer talents Coco Macabre, Danté Inferno, Celeste Teal and Emmett, who will be performing as Connie Bathory, and music from DJ Chelsey Sanderson.
Emmett said the night would be themed in mythology, in inspiration of this year's Mardi Gras theme 'RISE'.
Attendees are encouraged to frock up "as fabulously as they can" with "big wings, feathers".
"Because of the idea 'rise', we're rising for equality, we're rising to stand with our brothers and sisters and brother-sisters and sister-brothers we're rising for everyone and just 2020 was marred by such negative events," Emmett said.
"We had bushfires, we had flooding, we've had COVID-19 outbreak, it reminded us of what it was like during the HIV crisis, and how queer people also rise above these things, and how everyone rises above all these adversities and adverse events.
"So they're rising, re-rising like a phoenix out of its ashes, bigger and (more) beautiful than before."
On the night, The Rainbow Underground will have collection tins to raise funds and awareness for AIDS research.
For links with more information about the viewing party, search The Illawarra, and The Rainbow Underground on Facebook.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.