Making the most of 2020 with major events
  • Last updated:
  • 24 Nov 2020

Major events have always been a strong focus for council. They play a significant role in attracting visitation to the region in off peak tourism seasons and in building our reputation as a great visitor destination.

The growth of our national profile from sponsored major events has been strong in recent years. We've attracted new, large audience events covering:

  • professional and participation sport
  • local food and beverage
  • arts and culture.

In rapidly changing COVID times, council took a holistic approach to help the local event industry survive long term. Tactics included:

  • assisting events to successfully post pone or adapt to new environment 
  • assisting in managing the challenges of developing COVID Plans for complex events
  • holding over event permit fees
  • developing COVID safe plans for our venues
  • working individually with all local sponsored events to adapt and amend contracts where possible to continue to support the local management and suppliers behind each project.

2020 Sunshine Coast calendar 

More than 60 council-sponsored major events were on the 2020 Sunshine Coast calendar. Some cancellations were necessary through the peak of COVID-19, as occurred globally. Nevertheless, motivated event organisers kept planning, pivoting and pitching new or revised plans. They worked through new requirements for industry and event COVID SAFE Plans.

Since July 2020, the Sunshine Coast hosted 25 events safely and successfully. An increase in community confidence and a boost for the local economy have been key outcomes.

A sign of community confidence, almost every NRL Melbourne Storm match held at Sunshine Coast Stadium sold-out (at COVID capacity limits).

Sunday 13 September was a particularly big day of sport for the Sunshine Coast featuring:

  • the first Australian IRONMAN 70.3 event to return amidst COVID restrictions, held at Mooloolaba in the morning
  • Sunshine Coast Lightning won their midday match with Queensland Firebirds at USC Stadium
  • Melbourne Storm won against North Qld Cowboys in an afternoon match at Sunshine Coast Stadium

As of  October 31, 16 council-sponsored major events were held this financial year delivering $16.8 million in visitor spending and 29,849 visitors to the region.

Snapshot of COVID safe events

Event organisers rallied with new initiatives and adjustments to keep their events going in some format:

July – New Way Forward

  • Airwaves Drive-In Music Festival – the first drive-in music concert for the Sunshine Coast.
  • Queensland Garden Expo – finding new feet online with live video workshops.
  • NRL Melbourne Storm – Storms host their first game at their ‘home away from home’.

August – All About Adapting

  • Suncorp Super Netball – USC Stadium was one of three Queensland venues to host fixtures for the condensed season.
  • 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon Virtual Run – found a new way to engage with their audience.
  • NRL Melbourne Storm – played three more home games, with three wins.

September – Stepping Out

  • IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast – our first mass participation event with a COVID safe plan.
  • NRL Melbourne Storm – played won two home games, setting them up for finals.
  • SSN Sunshine Coast Lightning – played four homes games, setting them up for the semi-finals.
  • Stage Age Netball Championships – levels up to meet COVID safe event requirements.
  • National Youth Touch Football – kicks off with all Queensland competitors

October – Growing Confidence

  • Caloundra Mini Festival featuring LUMINATE!
  • Triathlon Pink
  • Blackall 100
  • AFL Qld Schools Cup
  • Sunshine Coast Multi Sport Festival
  • SSN Sunshine Coast Lightning – played in the semi-finals.

What’s next?

Preparations are well underway for the rest of the year, with events that have a strong focus on women in sport:

  • NetFest
  • The world’s biggest outdoor netball festival will run over the last weekend in November, at Mooloolaba Beach and Maroochydore Multi Sports Complex.
  • Gymnastics Queensland Extravaganza
    Queensland Gymnastics will host this event at Caloundra Indoor Stadium in December.

Why Sunshine Coast?

Why Sunshine Coast? Because we have the iconic place, the friendliest people and a great track record of delivering events safely.

For more information about staging a major event on the Sunshine Coast, contact our Major Event Liaison Officer on 0409 365 143 or email