Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival

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The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival is an annual, four-day event during May in Knysna on the Garden Route.

Also known simply as Pink Loerie Mardi Gras, or (in 2019) the Pink Loerie and Mr Gay World™ event.

The event

Originally known simply as the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras, it was started by local businessmen to entice tourists to the town during the traditionally slow month of May, and reinvigorate the local economy. The first Pink Loerie Mardi Gras took place in 2001, and it was run by Juan Lerm until 2009, followed inter alia by John O’Neil.

The organisers initially envisioned the event as a parade, similar to the famous Pride events celebrating diversity found around the world, not only incorporating the local region’s gay identity expression, but also celebrating the cultural contributions made by the gay community. However, the organisers agreed that whatever was created should even go beyond that of the other Pride parades and be a celebration, a carnival with a purpose, which would allow the event to incorporate all residents and visitors in the town, regardless of their sexuality. In this way the carnival would celebrate the rich diversity of people from the Greater Municipality of Eden area as well, which incorporates the towns of Knysna and nearby George.

In form the event hosts a parade as well as a party, beginning on Thursday and ending with the grand finale - in the form of the Parade and the after-party - taking place on day of the celebrations. The festival attracts floats, performers and DJ’s from all over the world and local businesses also get into to the spirit, competing for the best Pink Loerie window display.

With an ever increasingly visible Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+)[1] community, it has become one of the better known annual celebrations within the international LGBTQ+ community. It has also become a important charity drive for local charities such as Loeriehof Old Age Home in Graham Street, Vermont Retirement Village, Knysna Animal Welfare, Paula Whitney Preschool and the Mayor’s Relief Fund, this run through the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Southern Africa Foundation.


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