Located on the edge of the Melbourne CBD, Festival Hall started its life as the West Melbourne Stadium in 1915. Built by John Wren, the chairman of Stadiums Pty Ltd, the multi-purpose facility primarily hosted boxing and pro wrestling. Later simply known as the 'Stadium', it was destroyed by fire in 1955, but was rebuilt in time for the Melbourne 1956 Olympics Games, where it played host to boxing, gymnastics and some of the early basketball matches. Festival Hall has been referred to as the “House of Stoush”, with some of the greatest names in boxing fighting at Festival Hall. Among them are Lionel Rose, Anthony Mundine, Lester Ellis and Barry Michaels. Wrestling, roller derby, ballroom dancing, cultural and religious gatherings all became regular features, and the hall even hosted the first indoor tennis exhibition game featuring John McEnroe.
These days, Festival Hall is primarily a concert venue. Over the years, it has hosted many major acts including the Beatles, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran and The Foo Fighters. It is a versatile venue and includes seating for 1,741, but can host up to 5,445 for concerts. During the 1956 Olympics, it was able to accommodate up to 7,500 fans for the boxing. In 2018, there was talk of demolishing the historic venue and replacing it with apartments, however it has since received a heritage listing, and it remains open and hosting events.
Festival Hall Details