Oxtravaganza — a big, frizzy fringe
Oxtravaganza is a local Darlinghurst festival that gives Mardi Gras season just that bit of extra volume and bounce. Now in its eighth year, Oxtravaganza has grown from being a wild weekend shopping blitz to a curated two week arts and community celebration.
While focused in the glitter zones of Oxford Street and the Rainbow Precinct, the festival can’t help but sashay over into its sister-villes, Surry Hills and Kings Cross. Virtually every shop, restaurant, cafe, bar, gallery and usable space in the district has jumped aboard the Oxtravaganza fun wagon and will be offering something special.
“Oxtravaganza pulls out all the stops” says Festival Curator Lorraine Lock. “I mean, it’s not unusual to find something happening on Oxford St on any night of the week, but Oxtravaganza and Mardi Gras ramp it up to another level!”
The program of over 100 events across 40 venues ensures that everyone in the community is catered for, even the kids. Now, you could just be a wafter and wander through Darlinghurst without a plan, allowing the winds of fortune to take you to some unexpected treat, but with so many wonderful things to see, hear, and taste, you don’t want to leave it to chance.
So fire up your project management app, or go old school and grab a pencil and pad, group-chat your pals, gather the kids around, and start making notes. Here are some highlights.
DARLO BIG DRAG BRUNCH (Feb 24 – 25 & Mar 2): Drag yourself out of bed and head off to one of the many fabulous local eateries for a delicious bottomless brunch with maybe a drag queen or two to boot. Dozens of restaurants, bars and cafes will be participating with some offering bottomless brunch throughout the week as well.
PHOTO EXHIBITION (Feb 16 – Mar 3): The streets of Darlinghurst and surrounds will become the corridors of one big gallery. Local business shop fronts will display photographs featuring portraits of well-known Darlo identities as well as pics from the past showcasing the best of Oxtravaganza.
ART IN THE ‘HOOD (Feb 16 – Mar 3): The National Art School is one of the oldest art institutions in the country, and its historic campus sits smack in the middle of Darlinghurst. During Oxtravaganza, the NAS will be showing the photographic works of C Moore Hardy, who has been documenting queer life in Sydney for almost five decades.
Just down the road is a very new institution, Qtopia, which has repurposed the heritage Darlinghurst Police Station into an LGBTQ+ arts museum. The have an ongoing program of works commemorating and celebrating queer history and identity.
SHOP TILL U DROP (Feb 16 – Mar 3): Loosen those purse-strings and unfurl your eco foldable shopping bags, it’s time for some discretionary spending. So many bargains in so many stores, plus DJs, drag queens, and giveaways. Pop over to a pop-up or pop in to a popular outlet.
FAMILY ZONE (Feb 24): A fabulous day for the family in the safe, child-friendly confines of East Sydney Community Arts Centre. Take a breather and let the drag queens read some stories to the little ones while you get a well-earned massage. Fairy floss, goodie bags, and lots of fun activities. The kids can even learn to put on make-up…you’re never too young.
THE HUBS (Feb 16 – Mar 3): Explore greater Darlinghurst. The famed Golden Mile of Oxford Street is surrounded by rainbow enclaves, each offering a slightly different hue. At the very heart of Darlo is the Rainbow Precinct, in and around Taylor Square, which is becoming quite the destination, with excellent dining, nightclubs, bars, galleries and retail. The recently established Hollywood Quarter is a micro-precinct that pays homage to its filmic history. Themed hotels, restaurants, bars, venues and lots of nostalgia.
Stanley Street has long been known as a great dining locale with a good selection of unpretentious, affordable restaurants and one of the city’s oldest and most loved pubs, The Lord Roberts.
The Glittering Mile is the monicker given to Darlinghurst Road; it joins Oxford St to Kings Cross and is brimming with culture, lifestyle and queerness.
Oxtravaganza ’24 is going to go off. Be sure and check the website for updates and get your sensible shoes ready for some serious strolling.