Byron sparkles as gay party retreat

By RACHEL AFFLICK

GAY Mardi Gras revellers from Sydney will swap their sequins and tassels for boardies and beach towels this week as they embark on their annual pilgrimage to Byron Bay.

Thousands of people are expected to flock to Byron for post-Mardi Gras celebrations in what Michael Beasley, publisher of the Northern Rivers Pink Guide, describes as an important boost for local tourism.

"It's a week of the year when holiday rental houses generally would be empty, and they're not," he said.

"Around town you'll see restaurants full of people. It just filters down through the whole local economy."

Sydney's Mardi Gras celebrated its 30th anniversary last weekend, staging a sold-out party for 27,000 people. Now, as the party in Sydney winds down, thousands of revellers are heading to Byron Bay for a chance to chill out and recover.

"It's close to Sydney. It's just one of those places where people like to come to lie on the beach," Mr Beasley said.

"Because it's the 30th anniversary of Mardi Gras we're expecting a lot of international visitors. People who came to the first events have returned."

Tonight, Byron Bay's Ambergardens Bed and Breakfast will host post-Mardi Gras 'welcome drinks', and the entertainment continues tomorrow night with a post-Mardi Gras cocktail party at Cocomangas.

"We'll be having dance party anthems and it's just a fun night in keeping with the Mardi Gras theme," Cocomangas owner Gary Charles said.



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