National Bowl

The National Bowl is an entertainment venue in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. The site was a former clay-pit (for brick-making), filled in and raised to form an amphitheatre using sub-soil excavated by the many new developments in the area and it has a current maximum capacity of 65,000. The arena is open-air grassland, without seats.

The venue opened in 1979 with gigs by Desmond Dekker and Geno Washington. In 1992, Sony/Pace bought the venue and re-branded it as The National Bowl, building a permanent massive sound stage. They pulled out in 1996 citing profitability reasons. English Partnerships bought the site in 2000. It is currently leased to a Gaming International/Live Nation UK consortium.

Hall of fame

Bands which have played at the National Bowl include :

  • AC/DC (2001), Angel City & Alice Cooper (2006)(special guest with Foo Fighters) (2011)
  • Black Sabbath (2001), Blazin' Squad (1998), Blue, Blur (1995), Bon Jovi (1989, 1993, 1996, 2001 & 2006), The Bravery (supporting Linkin Park & Jay-Z) (2008), Bruce Springsteen (1993), Bryan Adams (1991) & Busted (2003)
  • Charlotte Church (2005), Coal Chamber (1998) & The Cult (1986), Chase & Status (2010), (supporting The Prodigy & Pendulum)
  • David Bowie (1983 & 1990), Deep Purple (2006), Desmond Dekker (1979), Diamond Head (1993) & Disturbed (2001)
  • Eminem (2003), Enter Shikari (supporting Linkin Park & Jay-Z) (2008), (supporting The Prodigy & Pendulum) (2010), Erasure (1990), Europe (1989)
  • Fear Factory & Foo Fighters (1998)
  • Foo Fighters (2011) (Biffy Clyro, Jimmy Eat World & Death Cab for Cutie supporting Foo Fighters)
  • Gary Glitter (1984), Genesis (reunion with Peter Gabriel & Steve Hackett) (1982), Geno Washington (1979), Green Day (2005), Guns N' Roses (reunion with Izzy Stradlin') (1993)
  • Hard-Fi (supporting Green Day) (2005)
  • Innerpartysystem (supporting Linkin Park & Jay-Z) (2008) & Ian Van Dahl
  • Jamiroquai (1994), Javine, Jimmy Eat World (supporting Green Day (2005) (supporting Foo Fighters) (2011), Journey (2006), Jay-Z (2008)
  • Linkin Park (2008)
  • Marillion (1984 & 86), Marilyn Manson (1999), Mark Owen, McFly (2004, 2005), Megadeth (1993, 2001), Metallica (1993, 1999), Michael Jackson (1988), Ministry (1999), Monsters of Rock (2006)
  • Natasha Bedingfield (2004), Nazareth (1984), Nickelback (2006), Nigel Kennedy (1999), N.E.R.D (supporting Linkin Park and Jay-Z) (2008)
  • Oasis (2005), The Offspring (2001) & Ozzy Osbourne (1998)
  • Pantera (1998), Papa Roach (2001), Phixx, Pitchshifter (1998, 1999 & 2001), Placebo (1999), The Police (1980), Pendulum (supporting Linkin Park & Jay-Z) (2008), (supporting The Prodigy) (2010), The Prodigy (2010)
  • Queen (1982), Queens of the Stone Age (2001) & Queensrÿche (2006)
  • Ramones (1985), Rachel Stevens (2005), Raging Speedhorn (2001), R.E.M. (1985, 1995), Robbie Williams (2001, 2006), Ronan Keating (2002, 2003),
  • Squeeze (1980), Simple Minds (1986, 1991), Simply Red (2003), Slayer (1998), Sleeper (1995 supporting R.E.M.), Slipknot (2001), Soulfly (1998, 2001), Status Quo (1984) , The Stranglers (1988)
  • Take That (2006), Taking Back Sunday (supporting Green Day (2005) Ted Nugent (2006), Terrorvision (1999), The Almighty (1993), The Offspring (2001), Therapy? (1998), Thunder (2006), Thin Lizzy (1981), Three Days Grace (2008)
  • UB40 (1980, 1994), U2 (1985)
  • V, VS
  • ZZ Top (1991)
  • The 411, 50 Cent
  • Jethro Tull (1986)

For the list in date order, see the Bowl article on MKWEB.'

  • Queen have released a DVD and double CD of their 1982 appearance at the Bowl entitled Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl.
  • Status Quo had their End of the Road Concert filmed here in 1984, it was released on 2 VHS tapes, End of the Road, and More from End of the Road, the concert marked their end as a touring band, but later revived in 1985 for the live aid Concert.
  • Green Day's album Bullet in a Bible, and the accompanying DVD, were recorded at the National Bowl in the summer of 2005. The band's two-night stand was supported by Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday and Hard-Fi. The bowl also appears in Green Day: Rock Band as one of the playable venues.
  • Linkin Park released a CD/DVD combo entitled Road to Revolution: Live at Milton Keynes from their first ever UK Projekt Revolution show that they recorded back in June 2008, Also headlining the show was Jay-Z with supporting acts Pendulum, N.E.R.D, Enter Shikari, The Bravery & Innerpartysystem. This show turned out to be the biggest capacity Projekt Revolution to date. This was the first time the tour was held outside of North America.
  • Three Days Grace will be doing another gig at the Bowl. It has been stated that they will record the gig for their future live album.
  • The Prodigy have released first live album and second DVD of their 2010 appearance at the Bowl entitled World's on Fire (album).
2006 Development plans

On 23 January 2006, Gaming International/Live Nation won a further lease in a competitive tender. The consortium made proposals for major developments in a a development summary leaflet (previously linked from the 'Backstage' section of the National Bowl website, now removed).

Gaming International handed The Bowl back to Milton Keynes Partnership towards the end of 2010 - so it is unlikely that any of the plans outlined in 2006 will ever be undertaken - apart from a temporary structure built close to The Bowl in summer 2010 which has a temporary three year planning permission.

Elfield Park

Gaming International already owns Elfield Park, a narrow strip of land on the other side of the A5 from the Bowl, between the A5 and the West Coast Main Line. They cleared a site for the new greyhound stadium there, having recently (2005) purchased it from English Partnerships, and evicted the speedway track and motocross club that had used it for 20 years. Greyhound racing in Milton Keynes was previously at Ashland (since 1966): Gaming International owned that too, but sold it to English Partnerships as a brownfield site for a 350 house development. (The sale of the latter funded the purchase of the former or vice versa). A section of the Elfield Park site is designated as an educational nature reserve.

Milton Keynes Motor Auctions

Milton Keynes Stadium Car Auctions is housed on this strip of land. Car auctions are held there on Wednesday and Friday.


The Bowl is in south central Milton Keynes, at the junction of Watling Street with Chaffron Way, just north of Bletchley. Parking on site (MK5 8AA) is very limited so fans are encouraged to arrive by public transport. In addition to the shuttle busses from Milton Keynes Central railway station, it is also practical to walk from the station using Sustrans cycle route 51.

Building Activity

  • removed a media
    about 6 years ago via