MELBOURNE NEWS

Culture and heritage

Celebrating 70 years of Moomba

14 February 2024

Head to the banks of the Yarra River, Birrarung Marr and the Alexandra Gardens for the platinum jubilee of Australia’s largest community festival this Labour Day long weekend – from Thursday 7 to Monday 11 March 2024.

Moomba has been enchanting Melburnians with free, family-friendly fun since 1955 – proudly owned and delivered by the City of Melbourne.

Join us this year for skate competitions, world-class water sports, face painting, dance workshops, live music, kids’ yoga, carnival rides, karaoke, bubble and magic shows, ukulele lessons and much more across five magical days.

Two people in a swing-seat, twirling high above treetops
A treetop view from a Moomba carnival ride

Access and inclusion highlights

We’re introducing relaxed hours for people who are sensitive to bright or strobing lights, loud music and sounds on Friday 8 March from 4pm to 6pm.

People with hidden disabilities are also invited to collect free sunflower lanyards on-site throughout the festival. These are a discreet sign to our trained staff that you may need extra assistance.

A person in a red dress, floral blouse and floral headband dances joyfully, their arms spread wide
Cultural dancers in the Moomba parade

Moomba monarchs: down memory lane

This year’s Moomba monarchs are children’s entertainer Emma Memma and comedian Peter Helliar.

Emma Memma and Peter Helliar are the Moomba monarchs for 2024

The tradition of crowning Moomba monarchs dates back as long as the festival itself. In the earliest days, a queen was chosen in a beauty contest.

Finalists were judged on their self-confidence, poise and ability to answer tough questions like: “How many
sheep are there in Australia?”

Two women in ball gowns waving from a parade float
The Moomba Queen float in 1962

A string of non-Australian monarchs later caused controversy, and none more so than the 1977 King of Moomba – Mickey Mouse. Mickey received a pie to the face and a mock crowning of Blinky Bill was staged in protest.

Dame Edna Everage and Molly Meldrum were among the local personalities crowned in the following years.

A black and white photo of people watching a parade from a shopfront awning
People watching the parade in 1983, when it ran along Swanston Street

A parade of all nations

The Moomba Parade is the much-loved centrepiece of the festival, promising a special kind of magic driven by the community.

Around 1800 people from dance troupes, cultural performance groups and marching bands participate in the parade alongside a fleet of impressive floats and giant puppets. Look out for the giant new ladybugs this year.

A shirtless and tattooed drummer throws his hands in the air joyfully
Musicians at last year’s Moomba parade

The image below shows Tia Hutajulu wearing a beautiful costume designed and made by Ganda Marpaung in last year’s Moomba parade. Hailing from Indonesia, Tia belongs to the Bonapasogit Victoria community and the ExtravaGanda group.

“I enjoy being in the parade because I’m not just watching, but participating directly in the very famous, colourful and amazing Moomba festival,” Tia said.

“The parade gives me the opportunity to share my country’s cultures by wearing our traditional costumes and by doing traditional dance.”

A beaming person wearing a huge golden winged costume
Tia Hutajulu wearing a costume by Ganda Marpaung

Moomba artefacts on show

In celebration of 70 years, a special Moomba collection has been curated at Melbourne Town Hall with a showcase of all things Moomba from over the years – from monarchs’ robes to a bottle of vintage spumante.

Tours of our Art and Heritage Collection are free and available year-round, however this special collection will be on display until 8 March. Bookings essential.

Sustainability and economy

Moomba has been certified carbon neutral since 2022.

The Alexandra Gardens will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity, and our organic waste collection alone will divert more than 4.5 tonnes of food waste from landfill. That’s equivalent to 450 watermelons or 22,500 curly potatoes.

The event also supports more than 800 jobs across a range of sectors, including the arts, creative, construction and services industries.

A skater at Riverslide Skate Park during Moomba

Must-see Moomba moments

Moomba Masters
All weekend

Ooh and ahh as an elite field of Australian and international water ski and wakeboard athletes complete on the Yarra. There’ll be slalom, tricks and jumps galore as participants vie for the coveted Moomba Masters title.

Waterskiers on the Yarra River
Waterskiiers in the Moomba Masters competition

Bjorn Again
Saturday 9 March

Dancing queens and super troupers can relive the magic of ABBA’s 1977 Moomba performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl when world-renowned tribute show Bjorn Again takes to the stage as the sun sets. Book tickets through Arts Centre Melbourne.

Birdman Rally
Sunday 10 March

See courageous competitors don inventive homemade flying devices and hurtle themselves over the Yarra in the Birdman Rally from 11am. It’s all in the name of charity, and good fun.

A person dressed as a firefighter leaps into the air wearing a winged 'flying device'
A firefighter takes the leap for charity in the Birdman Rally

Moomba Parade
Monday 11 March

See larger-than-life floats, dance troupes, community groups and performers pass by as the epic Moomba Parade weaves through the leafy surrounds of Linlithgow and Birdwood avenues, finishing near the Shrine of Remembrance and Royal Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre. The parade begins with a smoking ceremony at 10.45am. If you can’t make it, tune in to Channel 9 from 1.30pm.

People in yellow dresses holding large shiny fans
Cultural dancers in the parade

For more information, visit Moomba.

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