Midsumma Festival has announced that it is cancelling one of its most popular events this year, the Midsumma Carnival, in light of Coronavirus restrictions in Victoria. Instead, the festival organisers said they are lining up two nights of free queer live entertainment with its inaugural Live At The Bowl concert, at Sidney Myer Music Bowl on April 30 and May 1, 2021. 

The cancellation of the Carnival will surely be disappointing for the community, and remains to be seen how it impacts the Midsumma Festival financially. In 2020 117,000 persons attended the Midsumma Carnival accounting for over 44% of the festival’s total attendance last year. 

“Due to requirements assessed by Midsumma Festival to meet current COVIDSafe government restrictions, the annual Midsumma Carnival will unfortunately not be able to go ahead this year,” the festival organisers said in a press statement. 

Inaugural Live Concert For A Smaller Audience

“As our cities, streets and venues have laid empty for so long we have come to realise the significance of ‘owning’ our cities through activations and the all-important sense of place we bring to them. I am thrilled that in this year our communities and artists will take over the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in a joyous smorgasbord of the very best queer performances on offer,” said Karen Bryant, Midsumma Festival CEO. 

According to Midsumma, the two-night event, that will also be live-streamed, will comply with COVIDSafe restrictions and social distancing regulations and host 6,000 audience members. 

That is far less than the crowds that have attended the Carnival in the last few years – 105,00 in 2018, 118,000 in 2019 and 117,000 in 2020. 

Midsumma Festival 2020 had wrapped up before the pandemic lockdowns hit Victoria last year. This year though, the festival has felt the impact of the global pandemic. Even before the year started, Midsumma lost out on over $760,000 in revenue, Bryant had told Star Observer in an interview last month. 

COVIDSafe Rules Mean Less Crowds

Due to the pandemic restrictions, the festival was postponed and will be held this year from April 19 to May 5, with the Pride march scheduled for May 23. Around 200 smaller events will be spread across the Midsumma Pride month. 

Of the $1,852,626 total  income for 2020, $849,209 had come in government funding and grants and a similar amount from corporate funding and sponsorships ($421,800) and festival income ($455,906).

The festival in its 2020 annual report had said that the Carnival had seen a 38.7 % increase in community stall holders in the last three years. The 2020 Midsumma festival had also reported a 11.4 % increase in income from the previous year and a 40% increase in the last four years. The income earned from events from bars, ticket registrations, stalls and food traders had seen a 15% increase from the previous year and a 42% increase in the last two years, according to the report.

This year with smaller crowds at events to comply with COVIDSafe regulations and now the cancellation of Midsumma Carnival, it remains to be seen how it will impact the financials of Midsumma Festival 2021. 

Midsumma Festival returns from April 19 to May 5, 2021. The annual Midsumma Pride March will be held on Sunday, May 23, 2021. The full program schedule will be launched on March 18. Free tickets to Midsumma Festival Live at the Bowl will be released from 7pm on 18 March, and final tickets will be released on April 9. 


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