Kylie Minogue stuns at Mardi Gras
Cheering crowds have celebrated the appearance of superstar Kylie Minogue at the Sydney Mardi Gras alongside dozens of glittering floats belting out hit songs and power anthems for the 41st annual parade.
Almost 200 floats made their way down Oxford Street, celebrating a multitude of cultures, religious beliefs, organisations and causes as they embraced the theme of "Fearless".
Machines created flames and sprayed confetti over the parade. Wearing a shimmering gold dress, Minogue made her appearance during the parade alongside Courtney Act and a group of drag queens dressed as the singer. Performers dressed in replicas of some of her iconic costumes danced to a medley of her hits, with back-up dancers in gold cowboy hats.
Parade-goer Saskia, who asked her last name not be used, said the night was like "gay Christmas".
"It's so much better than December Christmas, it actually really hits deep in the heart," she told AAP.
Kicking off with the First Nations float, the parade included a contingent of those who were at the first Mardi Gras in 1978, the 78ers.
The parade also included protest floats aimed at Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australia's detention policies.
Politicians including Premier Gladys Berejiklian and federal MP for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps were among the 300,000 to watch the parade.
"Mardi Gras brings everybody together and it shows that we all care about each other and no one should feel bad because of their own background or circumstances," Ms Berejiklian told AAP.
Federal Labor's deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said it was "absolutely" a unifying night.
"The most wonderful thing about it, when you think about 1978, the first Mardi Gras, it was a protest, it was broken up violently, and you look around you tonight, it's just a celebration, it's wonderful, " Ms Plibersek told AAP. "It's a great party because it's showing love and tolerance and inclusiveness and enthusiasm and it shows that Sydney knows how to have a great party," she said.
Fireworks and balls of flame lit up the air as pre-parade celebrations kicked off just after 7.20pm with Dykes on Bikes Sydney, Boys on Bikes and Melbourne Motorcycles Tourers taking pride of place.
Bearded drag queens, shoulder pads in the shape of the Opera House and plenty of rainbow flags were also seen among the throng.
More than 1000 police officers are kept a close eye on revellers around the CBD and Sydney's suburban areas.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell acknowledged some people may take drugs and stressed the importance of looking after friends.
For this year's 41st anniversary festival the state government has relaxed its controversial lockout laws for the night.