Megadeth perform at Festival Hall in 2009
Megadeth perform at Festival Hall in 2009 | Photo by Martin Philbey/Redferns

Live Nation Secures Lease to Operate Melbourne’s Festival Hall as a Live Music Venue

Melbourne’s Festival Hall will return as a full-time live music venue. Live Nation Australia have secured a multi-year lease to operate the venue from owners Hillsong Church. Announced last Friday (17th March), Live Nation Australia plan to restore Festival Hall as a “cornerstone of the state’s live music scene for artists, industry and fans alike.”

It is understood that Hillsong will continue to use the space to host weekend services and other related events.

Live Nation to deliver “the next chapter of Festival Hall’s life”

Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

Live Nation is already operating a significant portfolio of venues around Australia, including Melbourne’s Palais Theatre and Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall. “We are extremely excited to be delivering the next chapter of Festival Hall’s life,” Live Nation’s APAC president Roger Field said in a statement.

Field continued: “Not only because it will help support the growing demand of shows that are coming down the pipeline across the industry, but also to put the iconic venue firmly back on the global live entertainment map.”

Melbourne’s Festival Hall has a long and storied history. It originally opened in 1913 as a venue for boxing matches and other sporting events, as well as ballroom dancing and cultural gatherings. It was destroyed by fire in 1955, but rebuilt in time to host sporting events at the 1956 Olympics Games.

Festival Hall has been used as a live music venue dating back to the early 1960s. Since then, it has hosted countless international and Australian acts, including The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, Slayer, Green Day, INXS, Midnight Oil, Powderfinger, The Living End and many more.

In October 2020, the controversial, evangelical megachurch Hillsong announced it had purchased the Festival Hall building and that, following a “complete renovation” of the building, the venue would be used to host Hillsong services every Sunday.

At the time, in an official video posted on Hillsong’s YouTube channel announcing the acquisition, pastors Tim and Nicola Douglass said the venue would continue to host live entertainment events but would be the “house of God” on Sundays. “It has served the people of this city in different events over the years, and it’s going to continue to do that. We just get to be the church who purchases it,” Tim Douglass said at the time.

Nevertheless, Hillsong’s acquisition sparked condemnation from punters and artists alike. The Amity Affliction frontman Joel Birch was one artist who vowed to boycott the venue due to its new owners. “I don’t want any Amity shows giving any money to Hillsong, so see ya later then Festival Hall,” Birch tweeted in 2020.

Since Hillsong’s acquisition, the venue has hosted a handful of concerts. Last year, it hosted performances by The Kooks, Sticky Fingers and Chase Atlantic, while Architects performed at the venue last month as part of their Australian tour.

Further Reading

Hillsong Church Has Bought Out Melbourne’s Festival Hall

The Amity Affliction Say Nup To Playing Melbourne’s Festival Hall Again After Hillsong Takeover

Newtown’s First 4am Bar License In Over 100 Years Has Been Granted

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