Festival Hall (Melbourne)

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Festival Hall is a heritage listed[1] entertainment venue located at 300 Dudley Street, West Melbourne, Victoria. It is one of Melbourne's larger concert venues and has hosted a variety of local and international acts over many years.

Festival Hall
The House of Stoush
Festival Hall Logo.png
Former namesWest Melbourne Stadium
Melbourne Stadium
The Stadium
Location300 Dudley St, West Melbourne, Victoria, 3003
Coordinates37°48′40″S 144°56′47″E / 37.81111°S 144.94639°E / -37.81111; 144.94639Coordinates: 37°48′40″S 144°56′47″E / 37.81111°S 144.94639°E / -37.81111; 144.94639
OwnerCommunity Venues Pty Ltd
OperatorArena Management Pty Ltd
CapacitySeating: 1,741
Standing: 2,600
Concerts: 5,445
Construction
OpenedMay 1915
Construction cost£250,000

In October of 2020, Hillsong purchased the Festival Hall venue. It will continue to host entertainment events, in addition to hosting Hillsong Church Melbourne City's weekly church services.[2] The building is set to undergo renovation to better suit the new uses.[3]

HistoryEdit

The site began its sporting history as the West Melbourne Stadium (shortened to The Stadium) in 1913, developed by R.L.Baker, the Sydney boxing promoter, opening just in time for the Mehegan-Wells fight of 3 November 1913. In 1915 it came under the control of John Wren[4] (chairman) and Dick Lean (general manager) of Stadiums Limited as a multi-function venue for boxing and pro wrestling. It quickly became known to locals as "the House of Stoush", as over the years it has featured some of the greatest names in Australian boxing including Lionel Rose, Johnny Famechon, Anthony Mundine, Lester Ellis and Barry Michael. Professional wrestling also featured regularly, as did Roller Derby, ballroom dancing, cultural and religious gatherings and the first Indoor Tennis Exhibition featuring John McEnroe. It was used by the Painters and Dockers as a meeting place. During the Great Depression, unemployed men seeking work would gather at Festival Hall to be picked for dock work.

The Stadium was destroyed by fire in 1955 but was rebuilt in time for the 1956 Olympics, where it was used for boxing, basketball and gymnastics events.[5][6][7]

Dick Lean Jnr (son of the original general manager, Dick Lean) joined Stadiums in 1960 and set about successful promotion of major music acts of all genres from both the UK and US, increasing the use of the venue significantly. The Stadium was renamed Festival Hall in the early 1960s to reflect its increasing use as Melbourne's largest live entertainment venue at the time. Lean booked the Beatles to play Australia in 1964. Lean continued to promote and bring to Australia many of the major headline acts during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.[8]

The Living End's Live at Festival Hall was filmed there on 19 May 2006.

On 30 January 2008, Rage Against the Machine performed at the venue in what was only their second headline show outside the United States since their breakup in September 2000.

Festival Hall's versatile set-up has been used for many events including a weekly conversion into a television studio for the production of The Price is Right for the Seven Network. The venue has also been used for black tie dinners, product launches, conferences, motivation sessions, art exhibitions, large Christmas parties, religious and cultural events, and even as an examination venue for Swinburne University.

In January 2018, Stadiums Australia proposed that the site become an air of apartment towers, while retaining the front facade, with the intention of selling the project, saying it could no longer compete with other newer venues.[9] A subsequent nomination to the State heritage body Heritage Victoria was successful, with the site gaining permanent heritage protection in November 2018.[10][7]


On 25 October 2020 Hillsong Church announced they had purchased Festival Hall[11] with the intention to continue running the venue as a community entertainment venue, as well as to use it for Hillsong Church Services on Sundays.

ConfigurationsEdit

Prior to renovation, Festival Hall is used for seated events of up to 4,586 including the main floor or for up to 5,445 if the floor is used for standing, sight lines permitting. The addition of floor-to-ceiling curtains around the main floor and between the side sections allows seating for up to 1,741 people or 2,600 standing on the main floor. The main floor has an area of 288 square metres (3,100 sq ft), providing room for dining for up to 1,000 seated guests plus dance floor, and the stage offers a further 160 square metres (1,700 sq ft) of elevated space.

Notable AppearancesEdit

The Beatles played at the venue during their 1964 World Tour.

On 29 November 2019, Juice Wrld performed at the venue in what would become his second-last live show before his death on 8 December 2019. [12]


See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Melbourne's Festival Hall wins heritage protection, complicating redevelopment plans". www.abc.net.au. 20 November 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  2. ^ Fuamoli, Words by Sose (26 October 2020). "Hillsong has bought Melbourne's iconic Festival Hall". triple j. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  3. ^ "Hillsong Church Buys Iconic Melbourne Music Venue". The Music.
  4. ^ "memorable stadiums - Melbourne Stadium later renamed Festival Hall". Australian Boxing News. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  5. ^ "Festival Hall Live Music Venues Dining and Drink". Only Melbourne. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  6. ^ 1956 Summer Olympics official report. Archived 12 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine p. 42.
  7. ^ a b "FESTIVAL HALL". Victorian Heritage Database.
  8. ^ http://www.classicbands.com/JohnnyChesterInterview.html
  9. ^ Harrison, Dan (23 January 2018). "'We're being pummelled': Festival Hall owners say it can't compete as redevelopment plans unveiled". ABC News. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  10. ^ "West Melbourne's Festival Hall granted heritage protection". Real Estate Source. 22 November 2018. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  11. ^ https://www.nme.com/en_au/news/music/hillsong-church-purchased-melbourne-festival-hall-2797301
  12. ^ https://www.nme.com/news/music/juice-wrld-final-tour-2585002

External linksEdit