Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) Acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Narrm, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present, and to Elders of all First Nations communities that visit MCEC.

Chef Miguel Maestre and a man holding a microphone standing with their backs to a seated large crowd, taking a lively group selfie on a mobile phone.

A Comeback Year for Melbourne Events: MCEC in 2022

By Deni Kirkova|

Events are back on in Melbourne! After two years of innovation, we're on our way to pre-pandemic event bookings and attendance numbers.

During a tough time for the events industry and the world, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre became more agile.

For most of 2020 and 2021, everyone stayed safely apart. And our venue, a place to bring people together, was either closed to business as usual or operating at a reduced capacity. We could have gathered dust but instead, we:

  • Partnered with Village Cinemas to transform into a drive-in cinema

  • Launched state-of-the-art virtual & hybrid event solutions

  • Unveiled a 5-year sustainability strategy

  • Supported sustainable project Melbourne Skyfarm – a new urban rooftop farm

  • Partnered with OzHarvest to rescue and donate excess food

  • Supported the Victorian State Government’s vaccination rollout

  • Adapted to attract a unique and creative partner: THE LUME Melbourne

Our departing CEO Peter King oversaw this diversification. It set us up for future success and we’ll see the benefits of its legacy for years to come.

An image showing three women sitting in an animated cartoon room with one of the women taking an image on her phone of the other two.
Smash Hits and Accolades of 2022

By the start of the year, we knew what we were capable of. Our venue had recently become a vaccination hub, a cinema and a digital art gallery. It's remarkably versatile.

January kicked off with the final month of a rawsome world-first: the Jurassic World by Brickman exhibition. It was the largest LEGO experience in Australian history with over 50 large-scale dinosaurs, props, scenes and activities made from over 6 million LEGO bricks. The exhibition gathered dinosaur and LEGO enthusiasts along with people who love a good 90s movie. It was a lot of fun.

We cemented innovation as a way of being as we transformed our business to an Agile operating model. This connected our people across different teams in brand new ways that made so much sense. It changed the way that we work to better serve our customers.

By March we were back to hosting large international events with the buzzing activity we're known for. We delivered the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME). This was the first major international business event back in Melbourne post pandemic.

An image showing two women talking and smiling at each other behind a red and grey exhibition stand with a digital sign next to them reading 'Illuminate Extraordinary'.

The charitable Good Friday Appeal Kids Day Out returned to our venue in April gathering 80,000 people. We love to provide our venue for this annual fundraiser, waiving venue hire fees to make it possible. It means the world to us to be able to help. And we are over the moon that this year, they raised a record $22 million for the Royal Children’s Hospital.

In May, the Victorian Government announced the new Geelong Convention Centre and Exhibition Centre will open in 2026. We'll be operating the exciting project and we're thrilled about the countless opportunities it promises for our state.

Celebrating our people, MCEC Event Planner Maxine McIntyre was awarded Venue Professional of the Year in June. She won the accolade for her pivotal role in delivering COVIDSafe events throughout the pandemic. Congrats, Max!

That same month, we delivered several world-class events gathering diverse and passionate communities. Good Food & Wine Show, Cat Lovers Show and Oz Comic-Con provided plenty of entertainment.

An image showing two people, a man and a woman dressed up at Comic Con. The woman is wearing a purple wig and black costume with a purple cape and red jewelled belt. The man is painted green with elf ears and silver gloves and a belt.
Amazing Events Back On in Melbourne

The biggest event in the foodie calendar, especially for those who love to bake, Cake Bake & Sweets Show returned after a two-year hiatus this July. Shortly after, the culinary community came back together for Fine Food Australia in September - one of the most important trade events.

In September, Jonathan Van Ness performed Imaginary Living Room Olympian, a show full of joy, laughs - and gymnastics. And promising serious fun, PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) - Australia’s biggest gaming festival - gathered 80,000 people over two days in October.

Meanwhile, the cutefest that is Dog Lovers Show united pet owners, trainers and kids from around the country and the world.

An image showing a young girl smiling with her arm around a brown dog.

In a pivotal move for MCEC, this November we announced our new CEO Natalie O’Brien AM. Natalie is set to replace the legendary Peter King in January 2023. She brings a wealth of leadership experience in the tourism and events industry.

Natalie will lead our venue's management, business plan delivery and future strategic direction. Plus, she'll be responsible for GCEC's operational planning. Welcome Natalie!

That same month, we launched the stunning Monet & Friends experience at THE LUME Melbourne. And we celebrated an incredible total 700,000 who came to see Van Gogh.

Approaching the end of the year, Cisco Live took over the building in early December for their epic annual celebration. Later, entering the holiday season, Love Actually in Concert will return to our Plenary theatre this 17 December. Get ready for festive cheer!

All in all, what a year! It’s been amazing to work with event organisers, trusted suppliers and partners to create and deliver sensational events in 2022.

An image showing three woman, two of them holding up wine glasses with a lemon slice in them with one of the women smiling to the camera.
An Incredibly Fast Return of Demand

Since moving beyond lockdowns, the ante is up.

So, the events industry is working hard to build up our workforce again.

We've loved having events return and rising to the challenge. It’s been a joy to see our building alive with activity and discovering the possibilities 2022 had to offer.

Now, we're looking forward to the fruits of 2023 to come. We have an exciting year of events ahead as we welcome Natalie O’Brien, our new CEO.

And we’re thrilled to be taking bookings for 2024 and beyond.

Considering options for future events? Reach out to the team and discover the difference.