Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre
The Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre (Dutch: RAI Congrescentrum), or RAI for short, is a complex of conference and exhibition halls in the Zuidas business district of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The complex gives its name to the nearby Amsterdam RAI railway station. In 1970 the Eurovision Song Contest was held at the RAI.
Opened in 1961, the RAI welcomed its 75 millionth visitor in February 2001. Up to 2 million people visit the RAI every year. Some 50 international conferences and 70 trade shows are held at the RAI annually. The complex consists of 22 conference rooms and 11 halls and has a total floor space of 87,000 m². The largest hall can seat 12,900 people. The complex also includes a musical and concert theatre and underground parking space for over 3,000 cars.
The RAI completed construction of a 47 metres tall expansion named Elicium in 2009, serving as Europe’s largest conference center.
The origins of the RAI complex can be traced back to 1893, when the trade association RI (Rijwiel-Industrie, Dutch for "Bicycle Industry") was founded by a number of bicycle manufacturers. The first bicycle trade show of the RI was held in 1895 at the Paleis voor Volksvlijt ("Palace of Industry") building in Amsterdam. In 1900 the RI changed its name to RAI because many of its members had started manufacturing automobiles in addition to bicycles.
In 1922 the RAI occupied an exhibition hall of its own on the Ferdinand Bolstraat in Amsterdam. This building, the "old RAI", was replaced by the current building complex on Europaplein square, which was opened by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands on February 2, 1961. The RAI trade association still owns 75% of the complex, with the remainder in the hands of the municipality of Amsterdam.
Trade shows and other events held annually at the RAI include:
- Art Amsterdam, an art fair
- AutoRAI, an automobile trade show
- HISWA, a boating and watersports trade show
- Horecava, a trade fair for the hospitality industry
- Horti Fair, a trade show for the horticultural industry
- International Broadcasting Convention, an annual trade show for broadcasters
- Jumping Amsterdam, an equestrian sporting event
- LXRY Masters (previously Miljonair Fair), a trade fair aimed at the very wealthiest
- "Our heritage – the RAI Story". Rai.nl. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
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