National Exhibition Centre

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National Exhibition Centre


National Exhibition Centre main entrance.jpg
Type: Exhibition centre
Grid reference: SP192840
Location: 52°27’16"N, 1°43’8"W
City: Birmingham
Built 1973-1976
By: Edward Mills
Seymour Harris
Exhibition centre
Owned by: Lloyds Development Capital

The National Exhibition Centre, known as "the NEC", is a major exhibition centre on the outskirts of Birmingham in Warwickshire. It stands near junction 6 of the M42 motorway, and is adjacent to Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International railway station. It is a complex containing twenty interconnected halls, set in grounds of 611 acres, making it the largest exhibition centre in the United Kingdom. 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 Genting Arena was previously the 'NEC Arena and LG Arena'.


The NEC was originally 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 958,000 square feet 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 1,345,500 square feet. Four more halls were added in 1993, the total exhibition space increasing to 1,700,700 square feet. Another four new halls, opened in September 1998, took the total space to 2,045,142 square feet. These buildings were designed by Seymour Harris.

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.


NEC Atrium entrance 2
NEC Atrium entrance 3

The National Exhibition Centre 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 Genting 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.

The NEC was the venue for the Iron Maiden live album, Maiden England. It also the venue for Great Britain's Davis Cup match against the Netherlands in 2007.

Yearly events

  • Autosport International
  • BBC Gardeners' World Live
  • BBC Good Food Show
  • Body Power Expo
  • Caravan and Camping Show
  • Comic Con
  • Clothes Show Live
  • Crufts Dog Show
  • Education Show
  • EGX
  • Euro Bus Expo
  • Gadget Show Live
  • Games Day
  • Grand Designs Live
  • Horse of the Year Show
  • The Multiplay Insomnia Gaming Festival
  • The Cycle Show
  • The Motorhome and Caravan Show
  • The Pokémon UK National Video Game Championships
  • Warley National Model Railway Exhibition[1]
  • UK AD & Biogas

Young Driver

Driving for 11- to 16-year-olds with Young Driver happens regularly at weekends in the National Exhibition Centre car parks.[2]

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.

NEC Group

The venue is owned within The NEC Group, which also owns and operates the Arena Birmingham and International Convention Centre, both in central Birmingham, and the Genting Arena, based on the NEC site.


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about National Exhibition Centre)