Shape the Future of Business Events in the UK

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London (photo credit: ExCel, London)

Uncover something new in the UK. A fusion of old and new, the UK is a land of historic tradition combined with a contemporary and innovative infrastructure.

With an abundance of industry expertise, a wealth of convention centers and venues and continued success in hosting some of the world’s leading global events, the UK continues to surprise even the most seasoned of delegates. With fresh, progressive and original developments, venues and destinations around the UK are looking towards the future and getting ready to reshape how they do events.

Working Towards the Future

Aberdeen, Scotland
Aberdeen’s P&J Live international convention center (ICC), which opened in 2019, has sustainability at the forefront of everything it does, from design to functionality. With an onsite energy center, this contemporary space, that has a 10,000-capacity arena and 516,667-sf exhibition area, uses food and garden waste from around Aberdeen to produce heating, cooling and power to the entire event campus, including two onsite hotels. Looking ahead, Aberdeen will also undergo a £150 million transformation to revitalize the city. This investment will include creating an open, accessible beachfront, a major new Aberdeen Market with international-style food and drink outlets, and a brand-new net-zero stadium, the first of its kind in Europe.

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Newcastle upon Tyne (photo credit: Mark Savage)

NewcastleGateshead, North England
Separated by the River Tyne and united by the famous seven bridges, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead are leading historical and cultural destinations for meetings and events. Last year the northern city reopened two of its landmark heritage venues, The Common Room of the Great North and Newcastle Cathedral, following a significant refurb. In addition to these two venues, in 2024 NewcastleGateshead will welcome its brand-new international convention center, The Sage. Sat by Gateshead quayside, the £260 million scheme will comprise of a 12,500-seat arena, 30,138 sf of flexible meeting space and 67,812 sf of exhibition space, along with two brand-new hotels and multiple dining options. Initially called NewcastleGateshead Quays, the 586,633-sf multi-purpose complex was recently rebranded following its partnership with global market leader for technology, Sage, who were announced as the new naming partner. Committed to sustainable and social initiatives, The Sage will be heated and powered by urban solar parks and naturally heated local mine water, besides supporting local charities and initiatives and providing special access passes to people from low income and disadvantaged background.

Belfast, Northern Ireland
Ranked in the top 20 global sustainable destinations by Global Destinations Sustainability Index and recently accoladed the first Excellence Award for Corporate & Social Responsibility by Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO), Northern Ireland’s capital is planning exciting new developments and putting sustainability at its core. The project for the new City Quays Gardens at Belfast Harbour has been developed to achieve the One Planet Living environmental accreditation. With an eco-conscious design, the project will create new habitats for wildlife and use renewable solar energy. Due to its resilience and innovation, Belfast was also awarded the Best Events Destination by Conference & Incentive Travel (C&IT) Magazine in 2021. With a 2,220-capacity auditorium, the Riverside Foyer with tranquil riverside views and ability to host from small classrooms to banquets, ICC Belfast has shown preparedness and responsiveness to thrive during the pandemic. The venue’s digital and technological solutions and infrastructure, including the purpose-built Hybrid Studio launched in June 2020, granted ICC Belfast the award of most innovative and tech-friendly venue at Event Tech Awards 2021.

London, South England
Delegates always have a great reason to be excited to visit England’s vibrant and dynamic capital city. Home to more than 1,000 diverse venues, London is consistently leading the pack when it comes to offering new and exciting developments for the business events industry. With a strong reputation for delivering high-quality international events, the ExCeL London will continue to expand its already well-established convention center with the aim of boosting floor space by 25 percent. With an expected completion date of 2024, the ExCeL is looking to integrate an additional 129,166 sf of exhibition space on the ground floor with plans also including a high-end convention facility, meeting rooms and catering spaced. This development will be further strengthened by the opening of the Elizabeth line in 2022, with the venue located 15 minutes away from central London and 43 minutes from London Heathrow, one of the UK’s biggest international airports.

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Birmingham (photo credit: The ICC Birmingham)

Birmingham, Central England
The UK’s largest exhibition venue, the NEC Group, continues to expand its impressive venue portfolio. Home to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), the Vox Conference Venue, Resorts World Arena, Resorts World Birmingham, The Bear Grylls Adventure and a number of hotels, the NEC Group will be adding an extra 150,000 sf of new outdoor event facilities and transforming 27 hectares of surface level car parking and surplus land into new residential, office, leisure and community spaces. Additionally, the new venue will be connected to the new high-speed railway station. The High Speed 2 railway is part of the government’s £96bn rail program that aims to cut journey times and increase capacity. This new venue offering is part of Birmingham and the West Midlands region’s ongoing city redevelopment and investment as it prepares to host the Commonwealth Games later this year. Besides increasing the public transport network, Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium has been upgraded to 40,000 seats in order to host the athletics and, after the event, it will be set at 20,000.

Events Paving the Way in 2022

Aside from a wide collection of ongoing product developments and following the global success of leading international events such as Cop26 in Glasgow and the 47th G7 Summit in Cornwall, the UK will also play host to a number of leading events in 2022:

Platinum Jubilee
February 6 marked the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The celebration of the Platinum Jubilee will happen throughout the year across the UK. Among the events and initiatives planned for the occasion, people have been invited to plant a tree as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy, to get together with the local community on the Big Jubilee Lunch and to join The Queen’s Birthday Parade.

UNBOXED
To celebrate creativity across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK will bring events and experiences across the UK from March to October 2022, and showcase 10 awe-inspiring new ideas developed in collaboration across different areas, including science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Safe To Be Me
The first-ever global LGBT conference will take place in London between June 27-29. Countries, international civil society and businesses will be invited to join the Safe To Be Me event, which aims to support decriminalization, tackle inequality and promote the rights of LGBT people around the world.

Commonwealth Games
Taking place July 28 to Aug. 8, Birmingham and the West Midlands will host the Commonwealth Games, the first major international multisport event with spectators since the start of the pandemic. The region will target major sporting events by showcasing the high-quality venues on offer to national and international sporting federations. Birmingham is an ideal destination for business events, with an enviable location at the heart of the UK and a highly accessible transport network.

For more information on how the UK is shaping the future of business events, visit eventsaregreat.com or connect with VisitBritain’s Meetings and Incentives Director for North America, Leila Heller.

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