National Exhibition Centre

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National Exhibition Centre
National Exhibition Centre Logo.jpg
National Exhibition Centre main entrance.jpg
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.


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[edit]

Young Driver[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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

Genting Arena[edit]

Genting Arena
Genting Arena logo.svg
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.[citation needed]. 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[edit]

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.

  • The Spice Girls performed 5 shows at the venue during the Spiceworld Tour in 1998, on 29 April and 2, 3, 5 & 6 May. BBC Radio One recorded and broadcast the whole show.
  • Pet Shop Boys performed their 1991 tour over three nights at the NEC, their live DVD entitled Performance was filmed over all three nights at the NEC.
  • erasure performed in 1988 on the innocents tour which was filmed for VHS/DVD and also in December 1989/January 1990 they played 7 nights on the wild tour and again on 6 April 1997 as part of the cowboy concerts.
  • Canadian rock band Rush filmed their VHS and DVD release entitled A Show of Hands at The NEC Arena in 1988. Some of this recording featured in the audio album of the same name.
  • Queen have performed at the Centre several times over the years while on tour, from their Crazy Tour in 1979, to The Game Tour in 1980 & to The Works Tour in 1984.
  • David Bowie performed, on two consecutive nights, at the centre during his Serious Moonlight Tour on 5–6 June 1983, began the first European leg of his Sound+Vision Tour, on two consecutive nights, on 19–20 March 1990, performed on two consecutive nights, during his Outside Tour on 20–21 November 1995 & performed on two consecutive nights during his A Reality Tour on 19–20 November 2003.
  • Status Quo recorded the Live at the N.E.C. album (CD) there.
  • The Genesis The Mama Tour video was filmed there.
  • Tina Turner recorded the VHS for her 1985 Private Dancer Tour there. She is also the female artist with the most shows at the N.E.C., with 18 shows.
  • Iron Maiden recorded Maiden England at the NEC, during their Seventh Tour Of A Seventh Tour in 1988.
  • The video for AC/DC song, That's the Way I Wanna Rock 'n' Roll was also recorded there, during their Blow up your video tour in 1988. They also performed here as part of their Black Ice World Tour on 23 April 2009.
  • The original Black Sabbath lineup performed at the NEC in 1997 which was recorded for their Reunion album.[8]
  • Cher performed at the venue with two dates on 14 and 15 May 2004 during the European leg of her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour.
  • Depeche Mode performed at the exhibition centre 12 times: the first and the second were on April 9 and 10, 1986 during their Black Celebration Tour. The third one was on January 15, 1988 during their Music for the Masses Tour. The fourth, the fifth and the sixth were on November 22, 26 and 27, 1990 during their World Violation Tour. The seventh one was on December 14, 1993 during their Devotional Tour. The eighth one was on October 3, 1998 during their Singles Tour. The ninth one was on October 21, 2001 during their Exciter Tour. The tenth one was on March 31, 2006 during their Touring the Angel. The eleventh one was on December 13, 2009 during their Tour of the Universe, in front of a sold out crowd of 13,014 people. The twelfth one was on January 27, 2014 during their Delta Machine Tour, in front of a sold out crowd of 11,780 people. The performances of "Black Celebration", "Something to Do", "Stripped" and "More Than a Party" from the first 1986 show were recorded and released as b-sides for the group's single "A Question of Time". The same performances of "Black Celebration" and "Stripped", alongside a performance of "A Question of Time" recorded during the same show, were also included as bonus tracks on the 2007 reissue of the group's studio album Black Celebration. The 2009 show was recorded for the group's live albums project Recording the Universe. The performance of "Insight" from the same show was also filmed and included as a bonus track on the group's concert film Tour of the Universe: Barcelona 20/21.11.09.
  • U2 performed at the exhibition centre seven times: the first one was on November 12, 1984 during their Unforgettable Fire Tour, in front of a crowd of 11,000 people. The second, the third and the fourth were on June 3 and August 3 and 4, 1987 during their Joshua Tree Tour, in front of a total crowd of 33,000 people. The fifth one was on June 1, 1992 during their Zoo TV Tour, in front of a crowd of 11,000 people. The sixth and the seventh were on August 14 and 15, 2001 during their Elevation Tour, in front of a total sold out crowd of 23,022 people. The performance of "Bad" from the 1984 show was recorded for the group's EP Wide Awake in America.
  • Spandau Ballet recorded a concert film over two nights at the NEC in 1986, during their tour in support of the Through the Barricades album, for broadcast on a special episode of The Tube which featured the group. It was released on DVD as Live from the N.E.C. in 2005.
  • Deep Purple MkII performed their last concert in England with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore at NEC. The concert was recorded and released on DVD titled Come Hell or High Water.

Car parks[edit]

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[edit]

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.



External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°27′12″N 1°43′10″W / 52.45333°N 1.71944°W / 52.45333; -1.71944