While there are lots of conference venues to be found across the length and breadth of the land, what about conference centres in the UK? We’re talking purpose-built venues here, which have been created as a place in which to hold meetings and other corporate events.
Holding your conference or event at a venue built specifically for the purpose does have its advantages. If the architect and planners have got things right, such venues will be spot-on when it comes to the availability of transport connections and the practicality of the spaces.
From a former agricultural hall in Kensington or government-owned venue in Westminster to Scotland’s largest events spaces on the bank of the Clyde or several centres in the Midlands, this article showcases some of the finest conference centres in the country.
This guide is intended only as an introduction to purpose-built convention centres in the UK. For free expert advice, feel free to get in touch with the team here at Venue Finder Pro. But to discover some real-life examples, read on to find out a little about 8 of the best conference centres in the UK!
8 of the best conference centres in the UK
The Olympia conference centre in London is located in West Kensington. Like other UK conference venues, it hosts events, meetings and exhibitions. The site occupies two hectares, and has a capacity of up to 10,000. Major events held here in the past include the BBC Good Food Show, UCAS Design Your Future and Marketing Week Live.
This is not actually a purpose-built convention centre. It’s been open since the late 19th century, and was formerly known as the National Agricultural Hall. At the time of writing, Olympia London is undergoing a £1 billion refurbishment programme and will offer dining, work space and other attractions as well as cultural and corporate events.
Nottingham Conference Centre
Nottingham Exhibition Centre is much newer than Olympia London. It’s located in the centre of Nottingham in the Midlands, and was created in 2009. The centre forms part of Nottingham Trent University, and was formed during its regeneration.
The Newton Building is a Grade II listed property that houses this Nottingham and East Midlands Conference Centre. It’s well-equipped for all sorts of events, with audio-visual kit, catering facilities and an event management service. Eight rooms provide the space, and up to 450 delegates can be accommodated in the largest of these.
Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow
The Scottish Event Campus – or SEC – houses the biggest event spaces in Scotland. The SEC Centre houses the SEC Armadillo and The OVO Hydro as well as meeting, event and exhibition spaces.
This centre is located on the banks of the River Clyde, and there are other hotels in the immediate vicinity. These include Radisson and Crowne Plaza properties. There’s also accommodation on site, plus five large event halls.
The Pendulum Hotel, Manchester
What was once the Manchester Conference Centre is on Sackville Street, and forms part of the University of Manchester. It was originally operated by UMIST, and dates back to 1992. This was a time when UK universities became central to the conference and events market.
The centre has now been rebranded as The Pendulum Hotel. It’s in a very central location, near Piccadilly train station, Chinatown and Canal Street. There are 117 bedrooms here, plus state-of-the-art conference facilities. These include 15 suites, plus big spaces for over 250 attendees. Catering is also supplied by an on-site team.
QEII Centre, London
Another option for those seeking a conference venue in London is the QEII Centre. Its full name is The Queen Elizabeth II Centre, and it’s situated in the City of Westminster. It’s the biggest conference centre in central London, and is popular among those hosting high profile events.
Several historic buildings make up the centre. One was the Stationery Office HQ, while another was once Westminster Hospital. The current centre was opened by the Queen it was named after in 1986. It’s government-owned, and a successful and profitable venue. It’s seen on TV at times, such as when new Conservative party leaders were announced in 2019 and 2022.
Read more about choosing a conference venue in London.
Yarnfield Park, Staffordshire
Back to the Midlands now, and the Staffordshire town of Stone. Yarnfield Park Staffordshire can be found here, and it operates as a hotel as well as a conference venue. It’s sometimes known as BT Yarnfield Park, as it was once a training centre for the telecommunications company.
Yarnfield Park specialises in hosting conferences, meetings and events for up to 450 attendees. Small and large scale events are covered, and they offer everything from day rates to long-term fully inclusive residential packages.
The Birmingham Conference and Events Centre
Just a minute away on foot from Birmingham New Street Station is The Birmingham Conference and Events Centre – or The BCEC. This offers some of the biggest event spaces in the UK, and hosts all sorts of events and exhibitions. From Birmingham Anime and Gaming Con 2023 or Michael Buble’s UK tour to Compass Jobs Fair and Building Your Business Day.
More than 1,000 delegates can be accommodated at The BCEC. There are over 2,000 square metres of space spread over three floors. 24 flexible meeting rooms exist, while the attached Holiday Inn can supply overnight accommodation.
ExCeL London is short for Exhibition Centre London. It’s in the London Docklands to the east of the city centre. The site was once a hospital, and occupies around 100 acres. Its position between London City Airport and Canary Wharf helps to make this one a practical choice.
This venue at Royal Victoria Dock is equipped to, and experienced in, hosting international events. The opening of the Elizabeth Line has also improved access. All sorts of expos, events and exhibitions are held here.
For free expert help in sourcing a conference centre anywhere in the UK – or even overseas – do get in touch with Venue Finder Pro. With decades of experience we’re here to help, and our service is completely free of charge to you, the client!