Event in the spotlight: 8-night Winter Gig fest at Melbourne & Olympic Parks

More than 70,000 music lovers enjoyed internationally renowned artists, world class hospitality and a vibrant music festival atmosphere over eight incredible nights.

Held at Melbourne & Olympic Parks, 24 July-3 August 2022, the Winter Gig fest was a music festival which welcomed more than 70,000 music lovers over eight incredible nights.

In addition to a great mix of music entertainment from internationally renowned artists such as Gorillaz, the Strokes, Yungblood and Louis Tomlinson, guests enjoyed eclectic festival experience at Rod Laver Arena’s rooftop bar, the Upper Deck which saw more than 2,000 people walk through its neon-fringed doors.

What was the event brief? What were the objectives or purpose of the event?

The objective was straightforward—bring the Splendour in the Grass experience and vibe to music lovers at Melbourne & Olympic Parks. With the 8-night gig fest timing aligned with the iconic music festival’s 2022 offering, the Melbourne & Olympic Parks team wanted to emulate some of the unique festival experiences you’re hard-pressed to get without the jumping on a plane—think colour, excitement, fun drinks with friends and delectable, bite sized snacks from cult restaurants. The Upper Deck, a 400-seat bar and dining venue within Rod Laver Arena, was transformed through creative styling, offering a curated experience to encapsulate the festival experience, minus the cost of a plane ticket.

How was the event delivered and what were some of the highlights?

For the 8-night gig fest, the Upper Deck was transformed into a neon-fringed, tropical garden-themed wonderland, inspired by the iconic North Byron Parklands made famous by Splendour in the Grass. With the unique, multi-faceted Upper Deck space activated to create distinct ‘zones’, there was truly a vibe that suited every type of festival goer. From the crimson hues of the back-bar ‘romance’ themed room (with its giant light-up hearts) to the glow of the main bar with its golden fringed roof and large, cascading balloon installation—the venue’s interiors, designed and executed by events specialist Andrew Balnaves, were transformed into a space that sat harmoniously alongside the ‘cool factor’ of the eight accompanying gigs.

However, it wasn’t just the Upper Deck interiors that received the festival treatment for the Winter Gigs series. Whilst local DJs created a sonic landscape for music-loving guests on the vast outdoor terrace, Melbourne hospitality icons Mr. Miyagi spoiled festival fanatics on the food-front, with an impressive menu offering featuring exclusive-to-the-venue duck pancakes, soba noodle salads and Mr. Miyagi Fried Chicken. Concert goers’ thirsts were also quenched across the eight days, with a specially curated cocktail menu rolled out for the event series by Melbourne institution, the Everleigh—who crafted a range of bespoke cocktails including an exclusive-to-the-venue espresso martini.

What challenges were faced and how they were overcome?

Although the Upper Deck has a lot to offer visiting sports fans, music lovers, and exhibition attendees, its location within the Melbourne & Olympic Parks precinct means it is sometimes overlooked as a first choice, pre-show venue of choice. With other music-focused, hospitality stalwarts located proximally to the venue, the challenge was to change concert goers’ perceptions of the space, drawing them in with the unique festival-inspired offering and positioning Melbourne & Olympic Parks as the venue of choice for the holistic gig experience.

A PR and creative campaign helped drive awareness of and attendance at the Upper Deck throughout the event series, resulting in strong guest attendance. However, helping guests navigate their way to the rooftop bar, even once aware of its presence, proved a challenge. Although the Upper Deck bar is situated within Rod Laver Arena and boasts spectacular views of the precinct, it could be considered somewhat of a hidden gem (with the entrance located on level 4 of the building). By activating the outside of the arena with neon fringed arches and tropical themed signage, event organisers helped intrigue and guide guests into the space, helping its presence spill out into the greater Melbourne & Olympic Parks precinct.

How successful was the event and what was the feedback from the client and attendees?

Overall, the festival-inspired Upper Deck activation for the Winter Gigs series was a great success, with over 2,000 guests walking through the doors, alongside the 70,000 odd music fans who attended concerts over the eight days. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with fans, suppliers and team members alike raving about the Upper Deck’s offerings, especially when it came to food and beverage selections. With concertgoers elated to be back at gigs after pandemic-induced lockdowns, music fans were surprised and delighted by a unique festival-inspired environment, right in their own backyard. As one supplier partner put it, “with great food, great gigs and a great atmosphere, what more could you ask for!”



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