Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Announces Dates; Gets New Sponsors

New Mardi Gras, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, today announced the signing of a new sponsorship agreement, making Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Blue Airlines Group official airlines for the annual event.

Virgin Blue Airlines group includes new long-haul international airline V Australia, long-time New Mardi Gras supporter Virgin Blue and sister airline Pacific Blue, which flies to New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands.

The new four-year agreement, designed to target growth in visitor numbers to the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, will see the airlines assist in promoting the event across a growing network of 28 Australian cities and towns and 13 international destinations including the U.S., South Pacific and Southeast Asian countries.

"I am so proud that Virgin Blue is back for another term and tremendously excited that V Australia has come on board," said New Mardi Gras CEO Anna McInerney.

"We have a very clear goal and that is to make the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras the world's number one gay event for the benefit of locals and visitors alike. This partnership will help us get the message out to a much bigger international audience. It demonstrates the value Virgin sees in the partnership it has had with New Mardi Gras over the last three years, while the addition of V Australia will mean expanded support in international markets...We will be encouraging people to fly with New Mardi Gras-friendly airlines, and Virgin Blue and V Australia's booking facilities will be easily accessible via the New Mardi Gras website so that patrons can easily find flight prices and times for their trip to Sydney."

In August, Events NSW research showing that Mardi Gras brought over 21,000 visitors into New South Wales in 2009, generating almost $30 million in new money for the State. Of these visitors, New Mardi Gras estimates that just under half are international travelers, with the U.S. and UK each accounting for just under a third of the total.

Details for the 2010 Mardi Gras will be announced in December, but a preliminary scehedule has been released:

Launch / Fair Day - February 21
Parade and post-Parade Event -  February 27
Harbour '10 -  February 28
Party -  March 6