On Friday night at the Exhibition News Awards, the East of England Arena and Events Centre secured the title of Best Event Venue over 8000 square metres by redefining what it means to host an exhibition.

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“I am hugely proud to have won this award. The shortlist of venues in this category was a list of the biggest and most capable exhibition venues in the country. To be counted amongst them was an achievement, to win the award is a testimony to our belief that exhibitions are not only indoor events. Traditionally exhibitions have been seen as events that take place within an exhibition hall and consist mainly of shell scheme stands – the rows of booths that we have all seen. We disagreed with that narrow definition,” explains venue director, Jason Lunn.

“We host events such as Plantworx, an event that is a business to business trade show and one that covers the entire site. The organisers and exhibitors need to demonstrate very large pieces of plant, something that cannot be done in traditional exhibition halls. Not only that, some of the displays simply cannot easily be accommodated inside an exhibition hall – we are only limited by how low the clouds may be. We also offer organisers a level of service to match any other venue” he added.

Alongside Plantworks the venue hosts a number of industry trade shows that need to use both the indoor and outdoor spaces including the trenchless technology show – No Dig, and TCS&D, the exhibition & conference for the frozen and chilled foods and pharmaceutical sectors. Alongside the venue also hosts the well established public shows the MCN Festival of Motorcycling, Truckfest and The National Motorhome & Campervan Show.

“An exhibition is simply a place where goods and services are put on display for customers to look at and purchase, having part of that event held outdoors does not mean it is no longer an exhibition. In fact, it is the original hybrid event,” concluded Lunn.

The judges summing up concluded: “The venue has invested heavily over the past year in infrastructure, electrical upgrades, plant & outdoor areas & venue services as well supporting the local community and agriculture in the region. They have improved compliance by 30% around H&S, installed a £400k solar system and hosted several information events (security, policing, terrorism) FOC to assist organisers. Impressive growth, retention, and investment. Congratulations!”