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'I'm looking forward to showcasing how diverse and creative we are.’

Gems in this

Photo>>>Mark Dickson


Explore Playbook

Gems in
this story

Feature by Marley Ng

Kate Wickett knows how to throw a party. We sat down with the WorldPride CEO to hear about the passionate journey of making the coming global WorldPride event a reality, and her personal Sydney Travel Playbook of favourite places to visit before, during and after the celebration.

A long-time advocate for LGBTQIA+ communities, Kate spent three years as Co-Chair of the iconic Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, taking on the role of CEO of Sydney WorldPride in 2020. For Kate, WorldPride is an opportunity to showcase the creativity and inclusivity of Sydney’s queer community — as well as highlight Australia’s First Nations culture — on a global scale. She and her team have been very busy — spending the last four years planning the 17-day festival and its 300 events, including a performance by Aussie icon Kylie Minogue; a human rights conference; a First Nations Gathering Space; and a women’s dance party at Sydney Town Hall. With hundreds of thousands of people set to visit Sydney from across the globe, it’s going to be an iconic time in the harbour city.


On being drawn to Sydney

I moved to Sydney about nine years ago. I'm originally from Adelaide. I went to uni in Adelaide; although I haven't lived there since. I've lived in London, Barcelona, Darwin, Melbourne — all around the world. Look, I love Sydney. Not only is it incredibly aesthetically beautiful, I really love the diversity of people here, anywhere from out in Parramatta to Bondi. It's a stunning city.

On the journey to create Sydney WorldPride

This is a culmination of four years of work and a huge amount of team effort. I'm most looking forward to having the world come to Sydney and showcasing how beautiful the city is, and how diverse and creative we are — we've got some fantastic artists and musicians and DJs in Sydney. And bringing everyone from the world and putting on a legacy-lasting event; seeing all those different faces from all the different places. Particularly post-Covid, people are desperate to get together and party and share and learn from each other. So I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone together.

On a bird’s-eye view of the festival

The event goes for 17 days, but we've jam-packed most of the events in a nine-day period. We know that there are going to be a lot of people from overseas, and most people from overseas can only travel for two weeks. So the opening concert is on Friday the 24th of February. It's at The Domain, and of course our queen Kylie Minogue is playing. Then that is bookended with the closing ceremony at The Domain again on Sunday the 5th of March. In between that nine-day period, we've got everything: theater, arts, a human rights conference, dance parties.


Top image of human Progress Pride Flag in June 2022 by Daniel Boud. Second row of Sydney WorldPride sports event by Sydney WorldPride. Third and fourth rows of Kate Wickett by Daniel Boud. All images courtesy of Kate Wickett and Sydney WorldPride.

On the importance of a First Nations lens

When we were developing and curating the program, we really wanted to have a First Nations lens to everything that we do. Travelling the world in the last 15 years, it still surprises me how much people don't know about Australia. And they certainly don't know much about our First Nations culture, let alone our First Nations queer culture. So we have a First Nations lens to everything, from our branding and our visual identity to who we are as a team.

‘WorldPride allows us to, in some respects, reclaim or reassert ourselves as a really open and inclusive and fun and creative queer city for people to come and party.’

On what you’re most proud of for the coming event

The thing that I'm most proud about Sydney WorldPride is the diversity of programming. If you have a look at our festival guide, there really is something for everyone. People often ask me, ‘What do you think success looks like for Sydney WorldPride?’ For me, it's someone picking up that program and seeing themselves in at least one event that we're putting on. We've got parties; we've got immersive free events; and we've got a three-day human rights conference. We've even got a sports program and a foodies event, a 700-person outdoor dinner. Having travelled the world, Prides do parties well. We do parties really well in Sydney, but I do think it's that holistic approach of something for everyone.

On insider tips for enjoying WorldPride

An insider tip: I would be going to Carriageworks in Redfern. There's six days of our First Nations Gathering Space — and that's Australian First Nations, but also international first nations peoples. For those who like their politics, I'd be getting off to the human rights conference. Another event that I'm particularly proud of is our women's event at Sydney Town Hall. I've travelled around the world and I’ve been to lots of Prides all over the world for the last 25 years. And it always annoyed me that women's events were either forgotten or really poorly produced. We wanted to turn that on its head, and on Friday night we are having a huge women's party at Town Hall for 2500 people. We've put some really good production value into that. Curated by women for women, but an event for everyone. They’re three of the really key tips.

Top image of Mardi Gras Fair Day 2022 by Ann-Marie Calihanna. Second row left by Jeffrey Feng; right by Ann-Marie Calihanna. Third row by Ann-Marie Calihanna. Fourth row of Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney by Jeffrey Feng. Fifth row left of performers and parade-goers by Josephine Ki; middle by Ann-Marie Calihanna; right by Jeffrey Feng. Sixth row by Ann-Marie Calihanna. All images courtesy of Kate Wickett and Sydney WorldPride.

On Sydney’s vibrant queer culture

Covid lockdowns really made a huge impact on people's perceptions of Australia, and particularly Sydney and our queer culture. Queer Sydney is in our fabric. Our queer culture has shaped Sydney — there's no doubt about that. But we've certainly come a long way from the heady days of the 90s, where we were the gay capital of the world. I think Sydney WorldPride allows us to, in some respects, reclaim or reassert ourselves as a really open and inclusive and fun and creative queer city for people to come and party. Mardi Gras is 45 years old this year — that's an incredible run of queer culture. Mardi Gras was the only Pride in the world that kept going through Covid. For anyone who's been to a Mardi Gras parade, we say it's not just life-changing, but it often saves lives.

On a song that represents Sydney for you

I'm a huge Madonna fan and always have been. I actually think that one of the best songs in the world is ‘Holiday’ by Madonna — you can't listen to that song and not smile. It's just such a great track. It's not my favourite Madonna track, but it's a brilliant track and I think It really epitomises the lightness and fun of Sydney.

On a song that represents Sydney WorldPride for you

We actually have been doing some work with Electric Fields. If you have a look at our website, they've created a song just for Sydney WorldPride called ‘We the People.’ It's a really powerful song, so we'll be blasting that during Sydney WorldPride.

‘Barangaroo is a really special place, particularly for our First Nations people. It provides such a different perspective of the city, looking back towards it.’

On getting outdoors

Sydney is so beautiful, and the weather lends itself to outdoor activities. Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool down in Woolloomooloo is beautiful. It’s one of my favourite places. For people who haven't seen those outdoor pools before, it is really stunning. Even if people don't like to swim, it's such a great place to go and sit and bathe yourself in the sun — with some protection, of course. It's a beautiful area looking back on Woolloomooloo. And it’s right next to the Botanic Garden and The Domain — that whole precinct is really beautiful to walk around. The Domain is where we're going to be hosting our three major events for Sydney WorldPride. Barangaroo is a really special place, particularly for our First Nations people. It provides such a different perspective of the city, looking back towards it. I really enjoy walking around there, seeing all the old sandstone in The Rocks and around Barangaroo.

On mornings at the beach

I really like North Bondi, because there's a small pool there that you can wade in, but also up on the hill is often a popular place for people to go. There's some nice cafés around there. You get a really great perspective of the beach itself. And of course, the beach to swim in is stunning. I actually have a friendship group that meets every Sunday morning. We meet and we have a little walk along Bondi Beach, and then we have a swim and breakfast together. So I'm a big fan of that area.


Top image of Kate with Rainbow Champions at The Ivy by Jaimi Joy. Second row of the Kaftana Pool Party 2022 by Ann-Marie Calihanna. Third row of the Paradiso Pool Party by Ann-Marie Calihanna. Fourth row of the Sissy Ball 2022 by Jess Gleeson. Fifth row left by Jess Gleeson; right by Ken Leanfore. All images courtesy of Kate Wickett and Sydney WorldPride.

On where to enjoy food and drinks

I love going into the Inner West for food and drink. There are some stunning places around that area. I like going to some of the older pubs. The Bank Hotel in Newtown is an excellent place to meet. They've got great food. It’s nice to have a beer there with mates, and you're really in the thick of it around Newtown and Enmore. If you want something a bit more earthy, or a bit darker or seedy, I'd be going to the back end of King Street out in Enmore or Newtown. It's a really great vibe out there. There's also beautiful places around the Sydney Opera House, which is synonymous with Sydney. It's a beautiful view, and it's really one that you can't go past. 


‘Like most intrepid travellers, I like seeing what the locals do. I like getting out into the suburbs and the local cafés and galleries.’

On something you can’t travel without

Probably a hip flask. No, I’m joking. I love reading a good book, or I absolutely nail magazines and papers on planes. Being in a plane is like a cocoon. It's wonderful. No one can reach you. I think we've done ourselves a disservice to have Wi-Fi on a plane.

First and second rows of Barangaroo, courtesy of Barangaroo. Third and fourth rows of The Bank Hotel in Newtown, courtesy of The Bank Hotel.

On travelling like a local

Like most intrepid travellers, I like seeing what the locals do. I don't tend to be drawn to the more tourist attractions, and I'm not really one for lining up to go in summer. I really like to see how the locals live, because you can travel the world and be surrounded by tourists. It's the same with backpackers. When I was younger and backpacking, it occurred to me that I was just travelling with Australians abroad and drinking in any pub — it could have been any Irish pub in any city of the world. So I like getting out into the suburbs and the local cafés and galleries, and seeing how the locals live.

‘This city is so remarkably beautiful, and I really do think it changes people's mindset.’

On a window or aisle seat

I'm an aisle person, because the thought of having to jump over someone is excruciating. And I'm a pretty good sleeper in a plane, so I like to stretch out.

On Sydney in one word


This city is so remarkably beautiful, and I really do think it changes people's mindset. It's green; it's lush; it's sunny. It's undulating. Just everywhere you look, it's stunning. Even if you don't have harbour views, the vegetation, the trees, it's stunning.


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