National Exhibition Centre

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is an exhibition centre in Birmingham, England. It is near junction 6 of the M42 motorway, and is adjacent to Birmingham International Airport and Birmingham International railway station. It has 20 interconnected halls, set in grounds of 628 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 LG 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 and 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 events status as the worlds largest dog show, with 22,973 dogs being exhibited that year.

Yearly events
  • Autosport International
  • BBC Gardeners' World Live.
  • BBC Good Food Show.
  • Clothes Show Live
  • DFS, Crufts Dog Show
  • Euro Bus Expo
  • Gadget Show Live
  • Grand Designs Live
  • Horse of the Year Show
  • British Open Show Jumping Championships
Young Driver

Driving for 11–16 year olds with Young Driver happens regularly at weekends in the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre (NEC) car parks.

LG Arena

The LG Arena, host to large music concerts, is part of the complex. The 16,000 capacity LG Arena was the largest multi-purpose arena in the UK when opening in the mid-1980s as "The NEC Arena" and is still a major popular venue for many large, international touring acts. Together, the NEC and the LG Arena host over 3 million visitors each year.

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 to compete with venues such as London's O2 Arena and Manchester's MEN Arena 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 Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr, Billy Connolly, Russell Howard and Peter Kay bringing their shows to the Arena.

Major music events

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 broadcasted the whole show.
  • Lady Gaga brought her Monster Ball Tour here, 5 March 2010 & 28 May 2010.
  • 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.
  • Sir Cliff Richard has performed numerous concerts at the venue and is the artist to have played the most shows at the arena.
  • 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.
  • Christina Aguilera performed at the Centre during her Stripped World Tour on 25 October & 7 November 2003.
  • Beyoncé performed at the Centre during her Dangerously in Love Tour on 13 November 2003 & during The Beyoncé Experience Tour on 1 June 2007.
  • 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.
  • Phil Collins Performed here on several occasions during his Both Sides Of The World Tour in 1994 & 1995.
  • 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.
  • The original Black Sabbath officially reunited at the NEC to record their live Reunion album on 4–5 December 1997.
  • Kanye West performed at the NEC for the European leg of the critically acclaimed world tour, Glow in the Dark Tour on the 15 November 2008. This was labelled as the greatest Hip-Hop show of all time.
  • Rihanna performed at the LG Arena on 7 May 2010 as part of her Last Girl on Earth Tour.
  • Jay-Z performed at the LG Arena on 9 June 2010 as part of his Blueprint 3 Tour.
  • Pop-punk rocker Avril Lavigne performed at the venue as part of the European leg for her world tour, The Best Damn Tour
  • Guns N' Roses performed on both 25 July 2006 and 17 October 2010 as part of their Chinese Democracy Tour.
  • The X Factor (UK) holds the Audition stages and tour at the LG Arena.
  • Mary J Blige brings her Music Saved My Life Tour to the Arena in November 2010 with special guest Lemar, this will be 1 of the 3 exclusive shows that she will play in the United Kingdom with stopping of at London 02 Arena before and then making her way to M.E.N Arena.
  • Linkin Park bring their A Thousand Suns World Tour to the arena in November 2010 with support from Does It Offend You, Yeah?
  • Paramore performed at the venue on 16 November 2010 as part of the Brand New Eyes World Tour.
  • The Script brought their first UK tour to the Arena on 17 March for an exclusive St. Patrick's day concert
  • Pop Latin Enrique Iglesias performed the last show in the UK of his world wide tour at the Arena on 26 March 2011.
  • R&B Princess Rihanna brings her Loud Tour to the Arena for 2 shows in 2011
  • Katy Perry will bring her California Dreams Tour for 2 nights in 2011
  • Depeche Mode performed at the venue on 13 December 2009 in front of 13,000 people. The show was recorded for their live albums project, Recording the Universe. The performance of "Insight" from that night was filmed too and included as a bonus track on their video release Tour of the Universe : Barcelona 20/21.11.09.
  • Norwegian pop band a-ha played there on November 19, 2010
  • The Star for All Season Britney Spears will bring her Femme Fatale Tour to the Arena on October 30, 2011.
  • American rock giants Red Hot Chili Peppers will perform 2 nights here on 19th and 20th November 2011 in support of their upcoming album I'm With You.
  • 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

The NEC has 29,000 car parking spaces spread around the site, with a shuttle bus service operating to and from the car parks.

In 2008 the all-day parking fee for public exhibitions was £8.00, which supposedly 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

Parent company The NEC Group also owns and operates The National Indoor Arena (NIA) and International Convention Centre (ICC), both in central Birmingham, and the LG Arena, based on The NEC site.

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via