Midsumma Pride marchThe 2012 festival of all things LGBT starts with a bang.

Midsumma is again set to heat up Melbourne with the 2012 Festival program the most diverse yet. It’s a veritable pick-and-mix bag with something for everyone. Following tradition, Midsumma kicks off with Carnival and T Dance on January 15 at Birrarung Marr. Still, this year there is another Carnival after-party, Golden Babetime, which is aimed at the women in the queer community and their friends. Check it out from 6 pm at The Deck in Flinders Street. It’s bound to be one cracker of a party.

All Families Welcome is another highlight of the festival at Edinburgh Gardens on Saturday, January 21. Bring your picnic rug and basket, and maybe a ball or a game to share. The picnic will take place in the shade near the playground in Edinburgh Gardens.

Discriminatory marriage laws make you want to chuck? Then chick! Women’s only cake fight. No spectators! Femme Fight Club presents Gay Nuptials Cake Bash, a remarkable women’s only wedding-cake battle followed by a reception to bash out our frustration with current marriage laws discriminating against same-sex couples, express our natural aggression, and make some tasty mess. Supportive fellas will mind kids in another area of the park for the duration, and costumes are encouraged, so frock up! Be warned that this will get messy…a change of clothes is advised. NO SPECTATORS! You show you biff. (Fighters may be documented, with their consent, by an official Femme Fight photographer.) Cake and reception provided.

Come out and hit with the Ace Girls at this women’s tennis night on Monday, January 23, at Carlton Gardens Tennis Club. Get fit, meet women of all ages and dust off your tennis game. All standards are welcome, from beginners to advanced. The session will focus on stroke production, point play and social hitting. All you need to do is bring a racquet, and we’ll do the rest. Dinner at the Pumphouse Hotel will follow the tennis session (dinner at own cost.)

Once again, there is a strong performing arts program, and a highlight looks set to be Leggings Are Not Pants. Raw, raucous and beautiful, Leggings are Not Pants shows that there are no boundaries to gender identity, but there are to lycra. A pole show with a twist on the sexy, this is for anyone who has not come out as wanting to explore an inner dancer. Full of laughter, sweat, acrobatics, beauty, rocking live music and muscles, this hilarious show defies the divide between masculinity and femininity and explores being queer in today’s world. By the same director as last year’s fabulous Ladies Prefer Brunettes, it is resented in conjunction with the Women’s Circus. Not to be missed, it is, indeed, circus gold/.

For something bawdy, naughty, brash and just as glamorous as the original Midler, Catherine Alcorn returns to The Butterfly Club with her acclaimed show The Divine Miss Bette from Jan 19-29.

These events are just a tasting dish of what is set to be the hottest Midsumma Festival yet. Head to midsumma.org.au for more.