From meetings, incentives and conferences to parties, exhibitions and weddings, event venues in the UK are sought out every day by thousands of clients from around the world, increasingly looking for unique venues or venues with the ‘wow’-factor. Whether partying in pubs and bars of London’s West end, hosting a wedding in a unique and quirky venue in Manchester or Wales or holding a meeting conference in Scotland, one thing for sure, there is a huge abundance of event venues in the UK to choose from, boasting indoor and outdoor spaces and matching the diversity of landscapes, culture and history of the UK.
The UK’s events industry as a whole is worth billions to the UK’s economy and London is a leading EMEA city in terms of events activity, therefore, the number and variety of venues accessible to clients is mammoth. So, what are the different types of event venues in the UK on offer and available across the board? The answer is so broad and we are spoilt for choice that perhaps the best way to look at it, is to break it down according to the ‘key types of events’ that are predominantly being held in the UK and some ‘favourite examples’ that are often selected for these types of events.
We come across the term ‘corporate event’ all the time, but what type of event venues in the UK are hosting these specific events? Some corporate events are held quarterly or annually, while others might be a one-off activity. From high-tech professional conferences to fun corporate parties, these types of events all have something in common: a great event space to impress your guests! In the UK, auditoriums are an excellent option for bigger groups and events involving public speaking. Rooftop terraces are perfect for throwing a corporate drinks reception with breath-taking views of some of the UK’s iconic buildings, landmarks and famous skylines. Laid-back pubs and chic cocktail bars are commonly used for company Christmas parties, informal corporate receptions or networking events. Others range from unique venues to conference venues, palaces and historic houses to galleries and museums.
Cool as a cucumber, is one of central London’s most instantly recognisable towers and well- known skyscrapers – The Gherkin. Essentially an elongated, curved, shaft building with a rounded end, covered uniformly around the outside with glass panels and designed to heavily steep in energy efficiency. The design of this iconic venue is so unique, that it was given its nickname “the Gherkin.” For corporate events in Central London, it is one of the most exciting venues with its million-dollar panoramic view over the city and has definitely earned itself a coveted place, particularly in the hearts of Londoners.
Copyright: The Gherkin
The Bloomsbury Ballroom is another one of London’s popular venues with its opulent art deco style, widely used for corporate events, cocktail receptions, award ceremonies, fashion show, weddings, live events or even filming or photo shoots. This iconic venue has welcomed world-renowned companies such as BBC, Telegraph, Amy Winehouse, John Lewis, UCL, Universal, AMC Networks, Bat Out Of Hell, Fox Productions, Yahoo, FIFA, Blackberry, Cancer Research, amongst many others.
Copyright: Bloomsbury Ballroom
Wolverhampton Grand is a long-established theatre in the heart of the Midlands and has welcomed world-renowned names such as Sir Winston Churchill to its stage. Admired by performers and audiences alike, the Grade II listed classic Victorian auditorium adds a real sense of occasion for corporate events such as award ceremonies, presentations, conferences, a stunning period filming location or backdrop for photoshoots.
Copyright: Wolverhampton Grand
In Northern Ireland, Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience and a must-see attraction offering its own portfolio of world-class venues. Imagine… holding a business conference or gala dinner on board the world’s last remaining White Star liner. This is Belfast’s most iconic venue in a signature heritage location offering five-star service and dining experience.
Copyright: Titanic Belfast
Various exhibitions held in the UK have established themselves as a strong base for international trade and these exhibitions are attracting millions of visitors each year, generating billions in spend. The UK now hold some of the biggest and best trade shows worldwide and has some world-class venues hosting these events.
As these types of events focus on displaying or exhibiting products, they usually take place in large venues with space for tens, if not hundreds, of vendors. The shape and size of these venues may vary from a small event centre or hotel, a conference and convention centre, sports or music arena up to extremely large purpose-built exhibitions.
Sitting proudly by Royal Victoria Dock, bringing trade and industry to the docks is ExCel London Exhibition Centre, which has quickly established itself as one of the best event locations in the UK, since opening its doors in 2000. Located on a 100-acre waterside site, it is the largest and most versatile venue in London. This impressive multi-purpose space offering totally blank canvas halls, unrestricted by pillars and an abundance of flexible spaces and services which makes it a top choice for public shows, exhibitions, trade shows, trade fairs, meetings, conferences, AGMs, product launches and much more. ExCeL London has played host to some of the world’s biggest events including 7 Olympic and 6 Paralympic events in the London 2012 Olympic Games, Europe’s largest medical association meeting for the European Society of Cardiology and has been the home to World Travel Market London for many years.
Built to prove that big shows can exist outside of London, Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is one of the UK’s most beloved and recognisable venues, hosting thousands of events, shows and exhibitions across a wealth of industries. This venue has grown and changed significantly since officially opening its doors in 1976 to become the UK’s number one venue of choice for organisers, exhibitors and visitors. Because of its accessibility to the motorway, railway and airport connections, it is the largest and busiest exhibition centre in the UK.
Located further up in Scotland is the SEC (Scottish Event Campus), previously known as the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, also home to some of the UK’s largest and most successful exhibitions. A stunning riverside location, world-class venues and just minutes from the centre of Scotland’s cultural capital.
Castles and Historical Venues
There’s something enchanted about the UK’s centuries-old fascination. Wedding enthusiasts from around the world desiring rustic, woodland, classic, traditional or vintage-inspired wedding themes are making it a primary reason to travel to the UK looking for castles and historical buildings as desirable venues.
The UK is filled with thousands of stunning castles and years of history, so you could say that English Heritage are the experts in castles and finding a venue that will suit style, budget and capacity to create the perfect wedding and setting. Narrowing down this type of event venues in the UK for your special day is probably the biggest decision you will take in your wedding planning process. From a romantic Scottish castle, to a unique Napoleonic Fort in Cornwall or an idyllic Hazelwood Castle in Northern Ireland, whatever the season and weather, there are plenty of castle-type wedding event venues in the UK worth adding to your scouting list. Typically, castles across the UK’s historic collection will offer unique and impressive rooms, acres of tranquil grounds featuring quintessential English gardens, romantic ruins, woodland walks, panoramic views, atmospheric keeps or something else inspiring for every couple.
Speaking of infusing your wedding with some historical flair, the UK is filled with stunning historical homes, heritage houses and huge stately homes as potential wedding venues. These types of event venues in the UK tend to come with some strict rules about furnishings and ornamentation, but for those after a lavish affair with family and friends, the rules are of minor importance.
Town Hall Government buildings are also amongst the list of historical event venues in the UK for weddings. This type of wedding venue offers sumptuous grandeur, some in a sought- after Art-Deco style, others as impressive listed building with its grand façade, or many combining architectural splendour with cutting-edge designs. The biggest advantage of most town halls in the UK are licensed to hold ceremonies and receptions, so you won’t have to hunt down two different venues for the day.
Outdoor and Garden Venues
And when summer is here, that can only mean one thing in the UK: to celebrate the good weather by taking the festivities outdoor for the perfect wedding backdrop. Thousands of outdoor events are held each year in the UK – not just for weddings – but also for major festivals, concerts, sporting and charity events, agricultural shows, through to small village and craft events, boat parties and canal cruises, rooftop exercise or outdoor cinema. Sure, we like to moan there’s no sun in a British summer, but the UK has established itself as a world leader in outdoor events, especially following 2012 Olympics. This sector has witnessed a massive growth and increase of people attending outdoor events, thus thousands of event venues in the UK now specialise in outdoor events.
The laws on getting married ‘outside in the UK’ are fairly tight in England and Wales, whilst in Scotland and Northern Ireland tend to be rather more lenient. The big upside to this is you won’t need to blow up the budget on décor to spruce up the space as they are customarily naturally beautiful with or without embellishment. From saying ‘I do’ in a magical enchanting forest to the grounds of an extraordinary castle, or perhaps the seafront for some breath- taking coastal views or on your own private island? How about a quintessential summer garden wedding in the tranquillity of a country venue surrounded by enchanting woodland, vast park and farmland? The sites of event venues in the UK are there to pick and choose, bearing in mind these spots are weather sensitive, so the venues are generally chosen with a wedding date in the warmer months between May to August.
A great example for this type of venue is Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens; a world of science behind botanical collections, with over 50,000 living plants across its UNESCO World Heritage site – the most biodiverse place on Earth. This place is also famous as a fantastic backdrop for weddings. From civil ceremonies to intimate weddings, from classic to iconic weddings, this venue is renowned for hosting mesmerising luxury experiences, designed to share the very best of Kew.
You don’t have to be culture vultures browsing numerous museums to appreciate this type of wedding venues. Most people tend to choose these event venues in the UK as they offer a vast amount of space, boasting built-in décor, historical artefacts or world-renowned paintings, sweeping staircases or romantic balconies for perfect picture opportunities.
A typical example in the UK is London’s Natural History Museum; a world-leading visitor attraction and science research centre and one of the most visited natural history museums in Europe. As an iconic venue with its stunning Victorian architecture and arches, it provides the perfect setting to host civil marriages, ceremonies, receptions or wedding breakfasts.
Moving more towards Wales, a great example on that side of the pond is the National Museum Cardiff; one of Europe’s most striking civic centres with inspiring displays of natural history. It is also home to the new National Museum of Art in Wales and ceremonies are often held under the museum’s beautiful domed ceiling.
National Mining Museum Scotland provides a stunning backdrop and a perfect venue that reflects Midlothian’s proud industrial heritage. This authentic wedding venue’s architecture is a combination of Victorian architecture and Industrial style with exposed brickwork, vast arched windows and industrialised features.
Active couples can choose a more unique and personal venue with a sporty link from football grounds to golf courses and Golf clubs, racing tracks and much more; some offering perfect grounds with impeccably manicured lawns, beautiful interiors and plenty of beautiful backdrops. One of our favourites is Hotel Football, Old Trafford, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel. It might be a hotel, but it’s the go-to venue for football fanatics and sport lovers and is a stone’s
throw from Old Trafford Football Stadium, designed to take your experience to the next level.
Copyright: Hotel Football
Hotel wedding venues are certainly a popular choice in the UK, as it’s convenient for guests to easily book bedrooms in the actual venue and have everything they need in the one place. They often come with licensed spaces, but most importantly, they’re experienced in hosting events and have plenty of rooms for guests who want to stay the night or extend for an entire weekend. One of the world’s most iconic hotels is The Dorchester in London; a beautiful Grade II-listed art deco building boasting a prime location in the heart of Mayfair, overlooking Hyde Park and one of the most prestigious addresses in the world. It is now one of London’s most reputable and exclusive wedding venues, having played host to many celebrities such Lady Gaga and Elizabeth Taylor over the last 80 years. If you’re looking for a luxury venue with authentic 1930’s decor, complemented by ornate walls, dazzling chandeliers or majestic mirrors, the Dorchester is ideal for such extravagant affairs.
While it’s long been said ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’, the same can now be said for women. The UK is renowned for offering an extensive and exhausting list of restaurant venues ideas for weddings. Whether you’re after fine dining in luxurious surroundings, something traditional, or hopelessly romantic, a little more casual in an iconic pub restaurant, there is nothing you can’t find across the country. The list is far too long to mention!
Events are a powerful fundraising tool for charities and non-profits — if not the most powerful fundraising channel. The number of fundraising events in the UK has increased dramatically and participant numbers have also doubled.
When it comes to organising a fundraising event, we know that there is a fair amount of planning ahead especially when it comes to finding suitable venues. Various charities throughout the UK are responsible for managing and organising a diverse programme of events to raise vital funds for their cause and increase awareness of the amazing work that they are doing. Whether planning on setting up either a gala dinner, an auction charity party, a sponsored walk or even your local football team’s annual fundraiser, there are thousands of iconic event venues in the UK offering a fantastic range of spaces and budgets.
Yes, we know the words “low cost” and “capitals” might not always go together, but it is absolutely possible to find affordable venues in London, Belfast, Cardiff or Edinburgh. More so, there is a wealth of options outside these capitals hosting events for charities or non- profit organisations with a much lower budget. And the good news is, most UK venues tend to offer a small discount to charities as it is going towards a special cause.
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