‘Incredibly difficult decision’ Moomba Festival cancels for first time in 66-year history

Melbourne’s iconic Moomba Festival has cancelled for the first time since its launch in 1955.

The City of Melbourne announced the shock decision yesterday, saying the latest snap lockdown was the final straw for the festival which was set to begin on March 5.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said it was “an incredibly difficult decision to cancel such an iconic event”.

“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,” she said.

“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 City of Melbourne will instead hold other events in the city including a series of live music “pop-up” performances and concerts by Spiderbait, Jebediah, Bodyjar and the Cat Empire.

Moomba was one of Melbourne’s last major events to proceed before the pandemic restrictions kicked in last year.

However, Major Events Minister Martin Pakula has urged the City of Melbourne to reconsider their decision and flagged further discussions to reconsider would take place on Friday.

“I thought the decision was premature and I’ve asked them to reconsider,” he told the Herald Sun.

“I hope City of Melbourne can reconsider sometime today.

“I’d much rather see council think about a smaller Moomba, a pared back Moomba, than no Moomba at all.

“The sense that I got was that council would have a look at that today.”