Northland's biggest mid-winter festival got off to a flipping good start yesterday with a hotly contested pancake flipping contest.

The flip — which was won by youngster Skye Hay with an impressive 43 flips in 30 seconds — is one of the new events in Russell's two-day Birdman Festival, which climaxes with the Birdman parade at 1.30pm today and the Birdman jump from the end of Russell wharf at 2pm.

Also today, from 10am, the ''big kids'' (aged 16 and over) will have their turn trying to build something seaworthy in the Corflute boat-building challenge, followed by a race off Russell Beach at 1pm.

A beach dig for under-10s will take place at 9.30am, a circus workshop from 9.30am-1.30pm, a blind taste test contest at 10.30am and spaghetti eating races at 11am.


The winners of the Birdman jump will be announced at 4pm in the Duke Tavern.

In past years as many as 5000 people have turned out to enjoy the spectacle.