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National Exhibition Centre


National Exhibition Centre

National Exhibition Centre
Location National Exhibition Centre
B40 1NT
Owner Lloyds Group (as of 2015)
Operator The NEC Group
(under Lloyds Group)
Capacity 186,000 sqm, 20 halls
Opened 2 February 1976
Renovated 2009
Expanded 1989, 1993, 1998, 2001
Architect Edward Mills
Seymour Harris

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is an exhibition centre located in Birmingham, England. It is near junction 6 of the M42 motorway, and is adjacent to Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International railway station. It has 20 interconnected halls, set in grounds of 611 acres (2.54 km2) making it the largest exhibition centre in the UK. It is the busiest and seventh-largest exhibition centre in Europe.

Opened by Elizabeth II in February 1976, the first event to be staged at the venue was International Spring Fair, which has returned every year since. Growing annually, the event now occupies all of the NEC's 20 halls and the Genting Arena.


  • History 1
  • Shows 2
    • Yearly events 2.1
    • Young Driver 2.2
    • Christmas Party World 2.3
    • Davis Cup match 2.4
  • Genting Arena 3
    • Major music events 3.1
  • Car parks 4
  • NEC Group 5
  • Gallery 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The NEC was originally going to be built adjacent to the M1 junction 21 near Leicester but it was turned down by Leicestershire County Council with claims that "The big shows won't move away from London".

In November 1971, the Secretary of State for the Environment granted outline planning approval for the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. The NEC, originally comprising 89,000 m2 of exhibition space, was opened by the Queen on 2 February 1976. The building was designed by Edward Mills.

In 1989, the Queen opened three further halls, increasing the space to 125,000 m2. Four more halls were added in 1993, the total exhibition space increasing to 158,000 m2. Another four new halls, opened in September 1998 by Neil Kinnock, European Commissioner for Transport, took the total space to 190,000 m2 (2,045,142 square feet). These buildings were designed by Seymour Harris.

As of 2009, The NEC is nearing completion of a five-year, £40 million venue improvement programme which has seen improvements made to everything from the car parking to signage, seating and catering. The most obvious result of this development has been the redesign of the Piazza – the central space around Halls 1 to 5, which has received a contemporary update.


The NEC was home to the British International Motorshow from 1978 to 2004. In addition, it also hosted the Classic Motor Show.

Since 1991, the NEC has been the venue for the international dog show Crufts. Held over four days and using five halls as well as the LG Arena, Crufts attracts an estimated 160,000 visitors annually. The 1991 show was also Crufts centenary year and as part of the celebrations to mark the occasion, the Guinness Book of Records gave official recognition of the event's status as the world's largest dog show, with 22,973 dogs being exhibited that year.

Yearly events

Young Driver

Driving for 11–16 year olds with Young Driver happens regularly at weekends in the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre (NEC) car parks.[1]

Christmas Party World

In May 2013, The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) announced [2] it would be hosting a series of corporate Christmas parties for the first time. The parties run from 8 to 21 December 2013.[3]

Davis Cup match

It was also home to Great Britain's Davis Cup match against Holland.

Genting Arena

Genting Arena
Former names NEC Arena (1982–2009)
LG Arena (2009–14)
Location Genting Arena
National Exhibition Centre
B40 1NT
Owner The NEC Group
Operator Lloyds Group
Capacity 13,928 seated
15,643 standing[4]
Field size 94.8m x 51.4m
Opened 1982
Renovated 2008–2009
Expanded October 2009
Construction cost £29,000,000 (Refurbishment)
LG Arena logo used from 2009 to 2014.

The Genting Arena, host to large music concerts, is part of the complex. The 16,000 capacity Genting Arena was the largest multi-purpose arena in the UK when opening in 1980 as "The NEC Arena" and is still a major popular venue for many large, international touring acts. Together, the NEC and the Genting Arena host over 3 million visitors each year.. The Ticket Factory is the official box office for the Genting Arena.[5]

From 1 September 2008, the NEC Arena was officially renamed as the LG Arena, following a naming-rights sponsorship deal with global electronics company LG. The arena then underwent a £29 million overhaul of its facilities, paid for by loans from Birmingham City Council and regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.

Work on the LG Arena was finished mid October 2009 and the arena hosted its first concert with Tom Jones. Included in the installation were around 1,000 new seats, bringing the capacity to 16,000[6] to compete with venues such as the O2 Arena in London and the Manchester Arena in Manchester, which are amongst the busiest music venues in the world. Also constructed were new hospitality areas and a forum containing new bars, restaurants and other customer facilities. Prior to its first concert, the arena hosted the 2009 Horse of the Year show.

Being able to host large and intimate shows the LG Arena Birmingham does offer a wide range of comedians that are nationally and internationally known with acts such as Michael McIntyre, Milton Jones, Ricky Gervais, Al Murray and Peter Kay bringing their shows to the Arena.

In 2010 and 2011, it played host to the Birmingham audition stages of the ITV singer search programme The X Factor.

Series Number Date
7 Sunday 13 June and Monday 14 June of 2010
8 Wednesday 1 June and Thursday 2 June of 2011

On Wednesday 19 December 2010, it played host to the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.

In 2011 the LG Arena became the 10th busiest arena in the world, closely following Madison Square Garden.[7]

On Saturday 5 November 2011, it played host to UFC 138.

In 2010 and 2013, it played host to a BAMMA event.

Event Date
BAMMA 3 Saturday May 15, 2010
BAMMA 14 Saturday December 14, 2013

It was announced in November 2014 that as part of a sponsorship deal with the casino group, the arena would be renamed the "Genting Arena" from January 2015.

Major music events

Since the 1980s, The NEC has hosted performances by many international musicians and music groups, several of which have played at The NEC Arena on more than one occasion.

Car parks

An NEC shuttle bus outside atrium entrance 2

The NEC has 29,000 car parking spaces spread around the site, with a shuttle bus service operating to and from the car parks.

From 1 April 2015 the all-day parking fee for public exhibitions is £12.00,[9] which contributes directly to the upkeep of the car parks, running of the shuttle bus service, maintenance of road surfaces and lighting and manning of the areas with traffic stewards.

NEC Group

Parent company The NEC Group also owns and operates the Barclaycard Arena and International Convention Centre (ICC), both in central Birmingham, and the Genting Arena, based on The NEC site.



  1. ^
  2. ^ The NEC and Vivid Experience to launch the UK's largest Christmas party venue
  3. ^ "Amazing Christmas Parties in Birmingham". Birmingham Christmas Parties. 
  4. ^ "The LG Factsheet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  5. ^ 
  6. ^ "Venue Information". Genting Arena Birmingham. 
  7. ^ "Manchester Arena Is Second Busiest Arena In The World". Manchester Confidential. Archived from the original on 7 June 2012. 
  8. ^ Keogh, Kat (11 November 2011). "Black Sabbath reunion: New album and world tour for original line-up". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "Car Parking". 

External links

  • Official website
  • The NEC Birmingham Business event calendar

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