Motorists have been urged to avoid CBD as WorldPride kicks off

NSW Police are bracing for commuter chaos this weekend and are urging motorists to avoid driving in the city as Sydney WorldPride festivities kick up a notch.

Sydney is gearing up for Friday’s ‘Live and Proud’ Opening Concert as well as its 45th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday.

Huge crowds are expected for the event’s post-pandemic return to Oxford St after being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground the past two years.

Hundreds are also expected to attend the highly anticipated WorldPride which is being held at The Domain, it’s the first time the international LGBTQIA+ event will be hosted by a city in the southern hemisphere.

Police launched Operation WorldPride 2023 on Friday 17 and say they will continue to work with festival organisers and queer communities to ensure the events run smoothly and safely.

Camera IconHuge crowds are expected to flock to Oxford St for Saturday’s parade. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard. Credit: News Corp Australia

Operation WorldPride 2023 Commander Assistant Commissioner Tony Cooke said police were “pleased” to partake in the Mardi Gras celebrations, having participated in the parade since 1998.

“We want everyone – spectators, participants and the general public – to enjoy both nights safely, so we are urging those supporting the event to plan your nights ahead of time; know how you are getting into the city, what you’re doing at both the concert and parade, and how you’re getting home,” he said.

“Anyone driving in the CBD should expect significant delays and take extra care as there will be heavy pedestrian traffic.

“So, it’s best to leave the car at home and utilise the public transport services available.”

This weekend marks the first time Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras parade will be held on Oxford St since the beginning of the pandemic.

While hundreds of thousands of people are expected to flock to the Darlinghurst strip and surrounds, Assistant Commissioner Cooke said there would also be “a number of major road closures” in place from Friday 24.

Camera IconSydney’s 2023 WorldPride marks the first time the international event will be held in the southern hemisphere. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard. Credit: News Corp Australia

From Friday 24 February to Sunday 5 March Crown St will be closed between Oxford and Campbell Streets, and Riley St between Oxford and Goulburn Streets.

The following roads will be closed from 12pm to 11.30pm on Friday 24 February and from 2am Sunday 26 February through until 4.30am Monday 6 March:

•Crown St between Campbell St and Oxford St

•Riley St between Goulburn St and Oxford St

•Riley St between Campbell St and Goulburn St northbound

•Goulburn St between Riley St and Crown St

•Sections of Arnold Ln, Arnold Pl, Little Oxford St, Lower Campbell St, Providence Place, Taggarts Ln and Waine St.

As hundreds of thousands of spectators line the streets for Saturday’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Oxford St, Flinders St and part of Anzac Parade will be closed from 2pm.

Key road closures for Saturday 25 February include:

•From 2pm to 1am: sections of College St, Wentworth Ave and surrounding local streets.

•From 3pm to 3am: sections of Bourke St, Campbell St and surrounding local streets.

•From 4pm to 4am: Flinders St between Oxford St and Moore Park Rd, and southbound Anzac Pde from Moore Park Rd to Lang Rd, including the Eastern Distributor Randwick Anzac Pde off-ramp (Bondi exit remains open). Anzac Pde closes northbound from 5pm.

•From 4.30pm to 1am: Liverpool St between Elizabeth St and College St, and local streets in Surry Hills between Elizabeth St and Riley St

•From 4.30pm to 2am: Oxford St between College St and Darlinghurst Rd, sections of Crown St, sections of South Dowling between Oxford St and Fitzroy St, and local streets off Oxford St.

•From 6.30pm to 2am: sections of Moore Park Rd and Driver Ave (until 10am Sunday).

•From 9pm to 1am: sections of Elizabeth St, Castlereagh St and Pitt St between Market and Goulburn Streets will close to allow crowds to safely leave the CBD.

Mardi Gras Parade
Camera IconMardi Gras was held at Sydney Cricket Ground during the pandemic. NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone. Credit: News Corp Australia

Assistant Commissioner Cooke has urged patrons to use ‘Trip Planner’ to stay up to date with the latest timetable and ticketing information for trains, buses, ferries and taxi ranks.

Travel on public transport will not be free on Mardi Gras night.

“Anyone driving in the CBD should expect significant delays and take extra care as there will be heavy pedestrian traffic.”

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