London named the UK’s events capital: Experts call for action to strengthen the events offering in the North

London named the UK’s events capital: Experts call for action to strengthen the events offering in the North

Published by Neil Thompson

21st March 2021

Published by Neil Thompson
21st March 2021

A new ranking developed by Leeds based events specialist AYRE Event Solutions reveals the ‘events capitals’ of the UK, with London taking the top spot.

The new ranking is based on the number of large event facilities in the city(1), successful Business Event Growth funding applications(2), the number of major events held in the location(3), percentage of corporates and associations which chose the location for events(4) and finally the total number of events related jobs available(5) in the area.

Unsurprisingly, with a whopping 60 large event facilities(1) across the city, London takes the top spot across all metrics but is closely followed by Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. The top ten locations in the UK for events as revealed by the new study are:

  1. London
  2. Manchester
  3. Birmingham
  4. Glasgow
  5. Bristol
  6. Liverpool
  7. Edinburgh
  8. Leeds
  9. Belfast
  10. Brighton

Starting with the total number of large event facilities in each location, London leads the way by a significant amount with 60 facilities(1) compared to Edinburgh and Manchester, which have 13 large event facilities(1). Glasgow is not too far behind with 12(1) and Birmingham comes in fourth with 11(1).

AYRE managing director, Chris Ayre says it’s the discrepancy between the number of large event facilities which is holding back towns and cities north of London: “Obviously London is the capital city and many businesses have their head offices there, but the Northern Powerhouse in digital and tech business is rising in cities such as Leeds and Manchester.
“It’s still disappointing to see that outside of London, there is a long way to go in terms of building large events facilities to meet the events’ need. Local councils and the Government need to place more investment in these conference centres and arenas outside of London so that these locations can effectively compete with the capital and host big scale events.”

AYRE’s ranking also delved into successful applicants for The Business Events Growth Programme funding between 2016 and 2019(2). The Business Events Growth Programme forms part of the Government’s commitment to building the business events sector. Since its launch in 2016, the programme has supported 40 events and bids across the UK, with more than £700,000 awarded. Of these 40 events, London was home to a quarter (10 events), with Liverpool, Glasgow and Manchester, all successfully hosting the next highest number of applicants (4 each).

Chris Ayre added: “This insight again reflects that the lack of facilities and trust in destinations north of London means that businesses and event spaces in the capital are receiving more funding than their northern counterparts. Moving forward, more needs to be done to split the funding and grants available for business events evenly. This will help the sector grow beyond London.”

London also leads the way in terms of the number of major events held in the city per annum, with a total of 14(3). Glasgow comes in second with nine3 and then Birmingham with four(3).

AYRE also reviewed The British Meetings & Events Industry Survey(4) to reveal the percentage of corporates and associations which chose UK destinations for their events. Again, London topped the list with 77% of associates and 71% of associations opting to run their events in the capital4. Birmingham (28% corporates, 31% associations) and Manchester (27% corporates, 29% associations) had the next highest percentages opting to run events in the area(4).

The final metric reviewed in the new ranking is the number of ‘events related’ jobs in the area. AYRE used to gather the insight and reveals that London currently has 12,801 ‘events related’ vacancies, followed by Manchester (2,137) and Bristol (916)(5).

Managing director of AYRE, Chris Ayre summarises the study: “Whilst we are happy to see some northern cities like Leeds and Manchester in the top ten ‘events capitals’ of the UK, we would like to see more done to increase the event’s offerings in these locations.
“Looking at Leeds, the city only has three large event facilities at this time, meaning no major business events are held in the city. We’d love to see our home town and other northern destinations higher up the list in the not so distant future, but this will require more backing and ultimately funding.
“There is a huge appetite for not only business events but major consumer events outside of London, and plenty of skilled workers who are eager to showcase their talents.”

To find out more about the study, visit: