Home of the UK City of Culture 2021 in Coventry and fresh from winning the bid for the prestigious International Working Group (IWG) World Conference on Women & Sport 2026, the region prepares to host one of the biggest sporting events on the planet; the 21st Commonwealth Games.
With its cities and venues in the spotlight, the West Midlands is alive with innovation and brand-new infrastructure as it readies itself to host millions of new visitors over the next 12 months.
Being centrally located gives the area advantages in hosting world-class events across a diverse portfolio of cities and towns, and sporting, conference and events venues. And in 2021/22 the region is set to build upon this proud history of events excellence by adding new event spaces, hotels and attractions to its offering. For event organisers, the time has never been better to take another look at the West Midlands.
Conferences and Events
Birmingham, already home to world-class, multipurpose venues such as the NEC and the BCEC, has recently welcomed two new, unique spaces to the city centre: The Exchange and the eastside rooms. Opened in September, The Exchange is the University of Birmingham’s latest conferencing venue. From large-scale conferences to intimate drinks receptions, The Exchange holds several unique, flexible event spaces, boasting a central location surrounded by some of Birmingham’s iconic attractions.
The eastside rooms, located on Woodcock Street in central Birmingham, opened in April 2021 and offers a range of individual event spaces for all occasions – the Affinity Suite, the largest space, boasts more than 880sqm of pillar-free banqueting event space, with room for 1,200 delegates.
Beyond Birmingham, Warwick Conferences in Coventry offers multi-functional event spaces for up to 1,200 guests, as well as high-quality accommodation and outdoor meeting spaces. Built on the original old station platform, the stunning Grand Hall at The Grand Station, Wolverhampton, offers room for up to 750 guests, with smaller spaces also available in this elegant, decadent events space.
Aside from the venue, finding the right host or MC can make your event. Experienced event host and co-founder of Birmingham Pride, Phil Oldershaw is well-known to the area with decades of events experience across the region, he is guaranteed to bring fun, passion and high energy.
For sporting success, the West Midlands has some serious credentials when it comes to hosting historic sporting events with venues including Aston Villa Football Club, Edgbaston Stadium – home to the 2021 County Championship winners Warwickshire – and The Belfry.
Coming soon, Coventry Building Society Arena (previously the Ricoh Arena) is undergoing a £7.5 million refurbishment in preparation to host the rugby sevens, judo and wrestling at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, adding a new convention centre. The modernisation offers exhibitors and organisers access to brand-new, state-of-the-art AV and conference facilities, with over 20,000sqm of flexible event space available across numerous rooms.
Molineux Stadium, home of Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, is one of the largest venues in the Black Country. Event spaces include WV1, offering a capacity of 550, and Wolves Museum, one of the few dedicated football club museums in the country, with a breakout room suitable for intimate gatherings.
Making a Culture Trip
In 2021, Coventry became the UK City of Culture, obtaining significant funding to transform the city. As well as one of the most technologically advanced cities, having rolled out a 5G network, Coventry has re-established itself as a base for the arts, commissioning new public artworks and hosting the Turner Prize for the very first time outside of London, at the iconic Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.
If you’re looking for historic grandeur, the 19th century Wolverhampton Grand Theatre boasts an impressive auditorium for meetings and events; The Auditorium has capacity for 1,200 across three tiers, with smaller function rooms available, also boasting the Art Deco style of The Grand.
Brand new to central Birmingham is Forum, the newly upgraded major music venue, with a 3,500 capacity for events and entertainment whilst featuring a custom-made sound system. Alongside Birmingham’s canals, the historic Roundhouse underwent a £3.6 million makeover and reopened in July 2021, transforming the unique venue into a cultural hub that offers tours, exhibitions, and office space.
Accommodation For All The eagerly awaited Grand Hotel Birmingham opened its doors in May 2021 after a £45 million restoration project, combining spectacular modern features with the original Victorian architecture. The hotel has 185 bedrooms, an extraordinary grand ballroom with capacity for up to 350, modern board rooms, and multi-purpose spaces for drinks receptions, private dining and more.
Formerly the headquarters for the Coventry Evening Telegraph, The Telegraph Hotel opened its doors in May 2021 after a £15 million transformation. The 88-room hotel features a rooftop bar, an authentic 1950s restaurant bar and lounge, and an event suite for up to 160 delegates. Connected to Birmingham’s eastside rooms, Aloft Hotel has 195 guest rooms alongside a cocktail lounge and a 120-seater restaurant, situated within walking distance from the iconic Bullring shopping centre.
In 2022, the Convention Bureau at West Midlands Growth Company celebrates its 40th birthday. It works alongside event organisers, offering expert guidance and insight, and invaluable support to ensure that both organisers and delegates receive the best possible welcome and experience. The Bureau provides industry professionals with a range of free services to deliver a successful event in the region such as accommodation booking, venue location and social programme planning.