Electronic music festival Rainbow Serpent is the third major Victorian music festival to be cancelled as a result of the national bushfire disaster, after Falls Festival in Lorne was called off due to extreme weather concerns, and A Day On the Green in Rutherglen was cancelled as a result of poor air quality due to bushfire smoke.
The Rainbow Serpent Festival (RSF) site in Lexton, around two hours’ drive north-west of Melbourne, was damaged by fire in December. While the majority of the site infrastructure was not affected, facilities including recycling systems were damaged.
In the weeks since, organisers consulted with the local CFA, Victoria Police, Forest Fire Management Victoria and the Pyrenees Shire Council about the future of the event, which was scheduled to run from January 24 to 27.
But in a Facebook post on Wednesday evening, the decision to cancel the event in its current format was announced. Two alternative events will take its place.
“No one could have predicted the intensity of the fires we’ve witnessed around the country over the last two weeks and it’s been a sobering experience for us all,” the post reads.
“Due to a number of safety concerns stemming from the fire that affected the site and the wider bushfire impacts across the country, it was agreed that holding RSF over the scheduled weekend in Lexton simply isn’t the right thing to do.”
On Sunday, January 26, an “Urban Edition” of the festival will take place in Melbourne’s CBD. The exact location is yet to be announced, but “the majority of special-guest performers from the original line-up” will perform across multiple stages.
And during the Easter long weekend in April, the festival will run a “Regen Edition” in Lexton, with the aim to get funds back to the local community. Artists and further details are still being confirmed, but in addition to performances, the event will involve tree planting and a community working bee.
“We’re looking into how we can best use these events to drive a community fundraising effort for the bushfires, and will confirm those details in the coming days,” the post continues.
Ticketholders not able to attend one or both of the alternative events will be advised of the refund process through the festival’s website and social media pages later this week.
“We ask everyone to please be sympathetic to the needs and wellbeing of the broader community at this time, but also the incredible strain our crew are currently experiencing in trying to work towards an outcome that is acceptable, enjoyable and safe.”