First coronavirus claimed the famous Birdman Rally — now, Melbourne’s iconic Moomba Festival has been scrapped.
First coronavirus claimed the famous Birdman Rally — now, Melbourne’s iconic Moomba Festival has been scrapped.

Iconic festival cancelled for first time in 66 years

Melbourne's iconic Moomba festival has been cancelled for the first time in the event's 66-year history.

The City of Melbourne on Thursday decided to scrap the event, planned to kick off on March 5, amid reduced crowd capacities and the cancellation of some of the festival's most popular attractions.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said last week's snap lockdown had also contributed to the decision to axe the event with interstate suppliers unwilling to commit to the festival.

"Reduced crowds together with the cancellation of key elements such as the Birdman Rally, the Moomba Parade, and most recently, the water skiing, mean that the Moomba we know and love cannot go ahead," Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

The Moomba Parade winds its way along Birdwood Ave. Picture: Ian Currie
The Moomba Parade winds its way along Birdwood Ave. Picture: Ian Currie

 

A float in the 1960 Moomba parade.
A float in the 1960 Moomba parade.

 

The 2020 Moomba parade. Picture: AAP
The 2020 Moomba parade. Picture: AAP

 

 

 

Moomba monarchs Nazeem Hussain and Julia Morris. Picture: Ian Currie
Moomba monarchs Nazeem Hussain and Julia Morris. Picture: Ian Currie

 

2019 Moomba Monarchs Chrissie Swan and Jimmy Giggle. Picture: David Caird
2019 Moomba Monarchs Chrissie Swan and Jimmy Giggle. Picture: David Caird

 

Participants in the 2020 Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP
Participants in the 2020 Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP

 

Crowds line the streets for the Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP
Crowds line the streets for the Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP

 

Floats and dancing troops are a feature of the Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP
Floats and dancing troops are a feature of the Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP

 

 

The Moomba Parade weaves its way through Kings Domain. Picture: AAP
The Moomba Parade weaves its way through Kings Domain. Picture: AAP

 

The 2018 Moomba Parade. Picture: David Caird
The 2018 Moomba Parade. Picture: David Caird

 

The 2019 Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP
The 2019 Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP

 

Dancers in the 2020 Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP
Dancers in the 2020 Moomba Parade. Picture: AAP

 

"Historically, we would welcome around 1.3 million people to Moomba over the Labour Day weekend.

"This year, because of COVID-19 safety requirements, we would be able to only have around 14,000 attendees at Moomba each day."

The famous Birdman Rally and traditional festival parade had already been cancelled.

The Victorian Water Ski Association this week decided to cancel its 2021 Nautique Moomba Masters water sports event, a key attraction of the festival.

Moomba was the last major event to take place in Melbourne before COVID restrictions were introduced last year.

It is the first time the festival has not gone ahead since it was first introduced in 1955.

Ms Capp said other events would take place in the city to encourage Melburnians to explore the city over the March long weekend.

They will include a series of live Music "pop-up" buskers and roving performers and concerts by Spiderbait, Jebediah, Bodyjar and the Cat Empire.

 

Penny Purdie takes part in the Birdman Rally in 2015. Picture: David Crosling
Penny Purdie takes part in the Birdman Rally in 2015. Picture: David Crosling

 

Tim Brayshaw flies Moondreamz in the Birdman Rally. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Tim Brayshaw flies Moondreamz in the Birdman Rally. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

 

City Reactivation portfolio lead, Councillor Roshena Campbell, said the City of Melbourne would invest $1 million into a range of family friendly events in coming months.

"The decision to not proceed with Moomba will be disappointing for many Melbourne families but we want to ensure they can still enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Moomba with free family friendly activities in the city over the long weekend," Cr Campbell said.

"Riverslide Skate Park in Alexandra Gardens will still host the Australian Skate League National Championships over the Labour Day Long Weekend.

"We are also committed to delivering a line-up of exciting activities to inject energy into the city. This will include a program of live pop-up performances from major high profile-artists in partnership with Mushroom Records.

"Over the coming months we will create an iconic Pirate Cove themed playground and a Unicorn Garden featuring fairies and rainbow installations."

shannon.deery@news.com.au

Originally published as Moomba Festival cancelled for first time in 66 years

The Flying Elephant takes part in the Birdman Rally. Picture: David Crosling
The Flying Elephant takes part in the Birdman Rally. Picture: David Crosling

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