Guide to the NEC, Birmingham

The NEC in Birmingham is the UK’s largest exhibition centre.  It contains 20 interconnecting halls covering 2,000,000 sq. ft. of floor space.  As well as exhibition halls, the venue offers 34 specialist conference and meetings suites. They also have the Resorts World Arena on site, with a capacity of 15,685. The venue records the highest ticket sales of any arena venue in the UK.  Key events hosted here include Crufts and the British International Motor Show.

Here we have a guide to tell you all you need to know when visiting or exhibiting at the NEC.

History

The NEC was opened by the Queen in 1976.  Architects, Edward Mills and Seymour Harris, designed the building.  It was originally planned to be built next to the M1 in Leicester but Leicester City Council turned it down claiming the major events would never leave London.  Little did they realise just how popular the venue would become.  A multi-purpose arena was added in 1980 and from 2006-2011 £40 million was spent improving parking, seating and catering at the venue.

During the pandemic the venue was converted into an NHS Nightingale hospital to treat Covid 19 patients.  It housed 496 beds with the potential for 800 beds for the patients who didn’t require the most intensive care. Plans for a worst case scenario would have allowed 4000 beds. It provided relief to 23 hospitals in the Midlands.

How to get to the NEC

The address of the venue is:

National Exhibition Centre (NEC)
North Avenue
Marston Green
Solihull
West Midlands
B40 1NT

The venue is conveniently located next to Birmingham Airport in the West Midlands.  It is just off junction 6 of the M42, within easy reach of other major routes including the M40 and M6. It is adjacent to Birmingham International train station allowing easy access by train.

The NEC has 16,000 car parking spaces.  If you plan to arrive by car you can book prepaid parking for £12 a day, or it is £16 per day if you just turn up.  The carpark is a short walk from the venue and has a free shuttle bus.

If you plan to arrive by train there are regular connecting trains from Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International.  The journey only takes 15 minutes. If arriving by plane it only takes 90 seconds on a transfer from the airport to the venue.

Exhibiting at the NEC

To book a stand at an exhibition held at the NEC you will need to contact the event organiser.  A list of upcoming events can be found on the NEC website with links to the show organisers.  Charges vary from event to event but expect to pay around £300 per sq. m. for floor space.  Additional services offered by the venue include:

  • AV equipment hire
  • Internet connectivity
  • Furniture hire
  • Catering to your stand
  • Security for your stand
  • Utility services – air/gas/water
  • Stand cleaning services
  • Rigging
  • Health and Safety services

All these can be booked via the NEC website.

Where to stay

There are a number of hotels located at the venue.  For a luxury stay, book a room at the Crowne Plaza Birmingham NEC, Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham Airport or the Genting Hotel. 

If you’re looking for budget accommodation, both the ibis and Travelodge at Birmingham Airport offer rooms for under £30 per night.

Alternatively, you may want an outdoor solution to accommodation. There are five campsites to choose from within 10 miles of NEC Birmingham:

  • Somers Wood Caravan Park
  • Kingsbury Water Park Camping and Caravanning Clun Site
  • Umberslade Adventure
  • Mousley House Farm Campsite and Glamping
  • Chapel Land Caravan Club

Where to eat

There are a number of food outlets within the NEC itself, including Subway, Cornish Bakery, Wetherspoons and Starbucks.  For a more substantial meal you can visit several restaurants located in Resorts World, adjacent to the NEC.  Here you will find several burger restaurants, Las Iguanas Mexican restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, a steakhouse, Nando’s, Zizzi and Pizza Express.

For a special meal there are a number of Michelin starred restaurants in Birmingham including Asha’s Indian Restaurant and Bar, Adam’s, Simpson’s Restaurant and Harborne Kitchen.

What to do

If you have some spare time during your stay you may want to do some other activities.  You could have cocktails at the High Line New York Bar & Lounge to relax after a busy day. Or visit the Santai Spa to relieve the tension of being on an exhibition stand for days.

You could visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery or the National Motorcycle Museum.  Maybe take in a concert at the Symphony Hall.

There are also great team building activities, such as Escape Hunt or the Bear Grylls Adventure located within Resorts World. And, of course, the NEC Group also own Resorts World Arena so you could see if there are any gigs scheduled for your stay.

Here at Black Robin we are accustomed to helping customers assemble their stands at the NEC.  If you would like to know more about what we offer, simply call us on 0800 019 2141 or email design@exhibition-stands.com

 

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