Booming Northern events industry drives demand for expo

The UK events industry is now worth £39bn per year and without doubt a large proportion of that is based in the north of England and Scotland.

By Mandy Parkinson, commercial manager, Great Northern Events Expo.

A study by Visit Manchester showed that conferences and business events generated £822m for the Greater Manchester area alone during 2011, and whilst traditionally the attention has been on the large urban centres, such as Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds, other regions are starting to feel the economic benefit of hosting events too.

One such example was the Grand Depart stage of the Tour de France in 2014. The Yorkshire region hosted the event for two days and saw over 2.8m people line the streets to watch the cycling spectacle. The event successfully generated business, community and cultural engagement resulting in a direct economic impact of £102m to the county, something it had never seen from a single event.

The legacy of the event continues today with many local authorities, tourism bodies and organisations seeing the potential of the public’s thirst for mass participation cycling events and creating success events such as the Tour de Yorkshire, Harrogate Big Bike Bash, Scarborough Festival of Cycling and the Yorkshire Cycling Festival.

The region’s festival scene is growing at a terrific pace, with events such as the Lytham Festival, south east Scotland’s Wickerman Festival and Portmerion’s Festival No 6 attracting big name artists and selling out annually. Kendal Calling, which takes place just outside Penrith in Cumbria, has recently received planning permission to increase its audience capacity from 20,000 to 35,000 by 2017, a clear sign that the sector is booming.

The idea of creating the Great Northern Events Expo was borne out of an increased focus on the region, which has no doubt been helped by international platforms such as the Tour de France Grand Depart, but also the goodwill that shines through across the north when it comes to working together as a ‘powerhouse’ rather than competing individually.

Our desk research showed that businesses and clients in the region were clearly frustrated by the fact that when they wanted to showcase their business and skills, or buy services they had to head to London. Andrew Poar of Chorley based Eat My Logo Ltd, who make edible branded merchandise was one such business and they responded well to the idea of an Expo being created in the north that allowed them to forge much stronger links between clients, suppliers and venues, and bolster the regional economy by doing business locally.

The region’s other ‘event’ shows in Liverpool and Leeds tend to focus on meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions and venues; we’re looking to create something different and are positioning the Great Northern Events Expo as a one-stop shop for all northern event buyers whether public or private sector.

It will showcase indoor, outdoor, mass participation, corporate and experiential events, as well as feature speakers spanning mass participation, sporting, festival, awards and other large-scale events.

Delegates at the Bolton Expo will be able to hear from some of the region’s most respected industry experts including Peter Dodd, Marketing and Sales Director of Welcome to Yorkshire, Jon Drape, Managing Director of live music and event production specialist Ground Control, Neil Simpson, Director of Fascinate Social Marketing and Richard Slater of the Red Rose Awards, named UK’s Best Business Awards at the PPA Connect Awards 2014. Paul Reed from the Association of Independent Festivals joins the line up for the Leeds Expo. The two-centred Great Northern Events Expo is taking place at Bolton’s Macron stadium on 4th November and at Elland Road, Leeds on 3rd February 2016. For more information about the speakers, to register for free or to book a stand visit