To celebrate Liverpool as our Destination of the Month, our next 'Event prof of Liverpool' interview is with Meet Southport's Conference and Sales Manager, Tracy Holgate. We grabbed a few minutes in Tracy's busy schedule to find out a bit more about her role
DW: A huge new £73 million development is underway at Southport waterfront which looks very exciting, can you tell us a bit more about it?
TH: It really is so exciting! Opening in 2026 the proposed Marine Lakeside Event Centre (MLEC) will be the biggest project in Sefton.
The venue will be transformational for Southport and the borough Sefton driving more than 500 thousand visitors a year to its theatre and exhibition space.
Tracy Holgate, Meet Southport
The MLEC will be built on the site of the current Southport Theatre and Convention Centre (STCC) and will feature some reclaimed items from the art deco Floral Hall. The development will form the backbone to Southport’s regeneration in creating a new destination for Southport as a leading business, entertainment and events destination. The events centre will attract a range of the UK’s finest events from music concerts, comedy shows, theatre and dance shows, pantomimes, sports events, national and regional conferences, trade and consumer exhibitions, award ceremonies.
In addition to the theatre and exhibition centre the venue will feature the UK’s first water and light show in the Marine Lake – perfect for conference users to personalise with their logo or simply to enjoy as entertainment!
The events centre’s proposals include:
- Theatre/auditorium flexile space 1200 capacity seated or 1400 mixed seated/standing.
- Flytower and proscenium arch
- 1500m2 Exhibition Hall with flexible space from 1000 -2400 people to host weddings, exhibitions, sports events and banquet events.
- ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ movable sprung dance floor.
- Leading digital technology for AV
- Smaller breakout spaces to accommodate up to an additional 1000 people.
- Flexible hospitality spaces including VIP area
- 180-degree views of the lake and coastline
- 150 cover signature restaurant and terrace
- Lakeside café space for community and networking – open all year round, café by day, bistro by night
- High quality public realm landscaping
- Water and light show – Will be changed to enhance events and available to customise for business events.
DW: Southport as a destination hosts some large scale events in the town making Southport a great choice for outdoor events. Can you tell us a bit more about these annual events and spaces?
TH: Southport punches above its weight boasting an annual established events calendar – Southport Food and Drink Festival is a 3 day free event taking place in Victoria Park the first weekend of June attracting 10,000+ visitors per day, British Musical Firework Championships at the end of September also takes place at Victoria Park over 2 nights again attracting 10,000 per night. Next year 2024 is also the 100th anniversary of the Southport Flower Show – the largest independent Flower Show outside of London takes place mid-August over 4 days, 15,000+ visitors each day. The Air Show is hosted in either July or September depending on the tides and air craft availability on Southport’s sea front and attracts 20,000 per day. In addition there are several more events taking place at Victoria Park – the Seaside Weekender – music festival in its 4th year over 3 days, The Southport Comedy Festival which is 17 nights attracting an average of 600+ visitors every night. There are also several more new events to the calendar – something for everyone!
2026 is not only the opening year for our new events centre but will also see the return of The Golf Open Championship to Royal Birkdale. A truly international event which gives Southport and the City Region the opportunity to showcase their hospitality, facilities and welcoming community.
DW: Southport is within the Liverpool City Region but what makes it stand out as a destination and how can Visit Southport assist event planners bringing their events here?
Southport boasts a beautiful coastline which is 22 miles long with numerous beaches along the way. The 2nd longest and oldest iron pier in the UK and expansive views with the natural beauty of a coastal town. If you are looking for somewhere a little different, in Southport you get the perfect blend of an old Victorian town, with a seaside ambience alongside urban chic.
Southport is close to major cities, Manchester and Liverpool, which makes it easily accessible by road, train or air but coming to Southport allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of a big city, enjoy the peaceful coast and focus your mind on the conference at hand.
Food and drink is something that Southport does particularly well. Sat on the coast and surrounded by nearby farmland, fresh local produce is something Southport boasts about. Catering for your event or a delicious meal in one of our independent restaurants, enjoying local food is something we can weave into your meeting or conference in Southport.
Choosing the right destination and venue for your event is essential and we understand that and have a dedicated team to help you with all aspects of your planning – from choosing the venue to booking accommodation for your delegates we can help put together the perfect package so you have a successful conference in Southport.
DW: Of course I have to mention the Golf when talking about Southport! It is home to the UK's highest concentration of championship links courses and is a golfers paradise for golf breaks and tours, tell us more!
TH: The Open Championship returning in 2026 is not just an opportunity to showcase the host course Royal Birkdale, but all of the many courses on England’s Golf Coast, with another two Royals within 60 minutes drive time, in the South, Royal Liverpool and in the North, Royal Lytham and locally to Southport there are several other enviable courses. Hillside just next door to Royal Birkdale, Southport and Ainsdale as another qualifying course just minutes away. Formby Hall also hosts the PGA Academy. When golfers return from a hard day on the course, everything that Southport has to offer is in walking distance, for a well earned meal and drink!
DW: Apart from the waterfront development are there any other new or recent openings, hidden gems or personal favourites, that you want to tell us about?
TH: The investment of the Marine Lakeside Events Centre (MLEC) is a catalyst for further developments and regeneration projects across the town and whilst many projects are in their infancy and yet to be submitted for planning approval I have to mention two wonderful developments and additions to the Southport Town Centre – Southport Market which underwent a £1.3m transformation opened in 2021 from a traditional retail market to a food and entertainment space. The venue boasts eight local food businesses, a communal central bar and an impressive event space for 200 people. Thanks to the Events Manager the venue is firmly established as an events venue for all ages and for something different! I must also mention the wonderful re-development by The Mikhail Leisure Group of The Grand. Formerly a casino and many years ago a theatre, it had stood empty for some years. July 2022 it re-opened boasting its former Art Deco glory and screams quality on every level! On the ground floor The venue has a cocktail bar and restaurant and on the first floor an elegant function room capacity for 250 people. A rooftop bar and 80 bedrooms are planned for the future.
Read up more about Southport's fab facilities here: https://www.visitsouthport.com/southport-conferences/