Although half the fun of Mardi Gras is getting to Oxford St early on parade day, securing a vantage point on top of a stack of upturned milk crates and soaking up the summer sun and enlivened atmosphere, the parade will be streamed online as a pay-per-view webcast on Saturday.
Event coordinator New Mardi Gras is partnering with Australian Internet broadcaster Viocorp to offer online front row seats to one of the largest gay pride parades the world. Hosted by Sydney diva Claire de Lune, the webcast of the 29th annual Mardi Gras Parade costs AU$10 (or US$7.50).
"Over half a million Sydney-siders and thousands of overseas visitors turn out each year to cheer on the parade. We're very excited... to bring all the fun, glitz, glamour, diversity and pride to an online audience that won't be able to be there on the night," chair of New Mardi Gras Marcus Bourget said in a statement.
"The quality, interactivity and viewing experience from the Internet broadcast will be one seldom found on the web," said Bourget.
A production will set up camp at Slide Bar on Oxford St to co-ordinate the multiple cameras, professional lighting rigs and the video stream to be carried across the globe via the Akamai network. Webcast viewers will be able to submit questions for host de Lune on the night.
British actor Rupert Everett is in Sydney for the duration of the Mardi Gras Festival and has been awarded the honorary chief of parade. 7,000 parade participants are expected to march down Oxford and Flinders Sts, with expected floats including Kylie's Impossible Princesses, Little Britain's Vicky Pollard tribute and the Inaugural Surf Life Saving float.
Requirements to watch the webcast are a broadband Internet connection, Windows Media Player (Windows) and Flip4Mac (Mac). Viocorp also recommends using either Internet Explorer (Windows) or Firefox (Mac).
In previous years, the Mardi Gras parade has been broadcast on free-to-view ABC and Network Ten and as pay-per-view events on Foxtel, Austar and Optus.
Mardi Gras Parade is on Saturday 3 March and begins at the Hyde Park end of Oxford Street, Sydney, between 7:45-8pm (Australian Eastern daylight-savings time). The online broadcast, which is condensed into a 60 minute broadcast, will start at 9pm (AEDT) -- 5pm in Bangkok, 7pm in Tokyo, 2pm in Dubai, 10am in London, 11am in Berlin, 5am in New York and 1am in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Mardi Gras Parade route
Image credit: Google Earth