the nec

Marked Events launches outdoor festival

Craft Drink Festival is the latest launch by exhibition organiser Marked Events. CEO Mark Walsh told Access that this isn’t the average craft drink event, but “a proper festival”, a celebration of all types of craft drinks.

“The focus isn’t solely on craft ale or beer, we will encourage cider, spirits, prosecco and even coffee!” he said.

The two-day event (28-29 July 2018) will be held at the NEC’s Hall 16 and accompanying gardens. Craft Drink Festival will be using the venue’s outdoor space to create a pop-up town comprised of brewers, distillers and street food stands.

Walsh said that Craft Drink Festival will have stages for live music, a comedy tent and areas where visitors can learn how to brew at home.

“With that in mind, there really isn’t another UK festival or craft drink event like this,” Walsh said. “We want it to be inclusive; it’s not just for those who know their weak beer from their pale ale!”

CEO Mark Walsh

What made you launch the Craft Drink Festival?
MW: To be honest, the team at the NEC! We have a great relationship with the guys there and they knew we were looking to expand our event portfolio. So when they pitched the idea it excited the team and we agreed it was an obvious market to go after!

Is this a sign of your interest in consumer events?
MW: When we launched BPM 11 years ago it was a consumer show, it just morphed over time into a hybrid trade/prosumer event as the other trade events in the sound and lighting industry lost focus and we gained their exhibitors. So, this isn’t a new area for us. We love working on consumer events as we can get creative with them!

What is the strategy behind this project?
MW: Ultimately we are all consumers! Any event should reflect the current vibe of an industry and be leading the trend curve. When designing an event we don’t really look at it from a trade/consumer point of view. We look at it more from the ground up from an exhibitor and visitor point of view and deliver what excites them.

A passion, an audience and a venue

Marked Events, a Lancashire based creative event specialist, offers event management for brands and organisations as well as producing its own exhibitions. Walsh explained: “We still have specific trade events in our portfolio and right now we have a good balance across a few very different areas.”

Current events in the portfolio include GIG for entertainers professional, and the technology events Worship, Live, and Club+Bar. In October, Walsh announced that the 2017 outing of BPM | PRO was its last outing.

Looking ahead, Walsh told Access that several new shows are lined up to launch when the timing is right. He said: “I would like to think we are one of the most ambitious organisers out there. We have spent 11 years getting the formula right with BPM and are really excited to be up-scaling the business.”

“Craft Drink Festival is defiantly an outdoor festival,” Walsh said. The organiser has secured a large hall just in case it rains. “We have worked in outdoor events for a few years now but this will be our first in-house festival,” he explained.

For Walsh, indoor and outdoor events are operationally different however both share the same formula. “A passion, an audience and a venue!” he said.

The Marked Events boss predicts 2018 will be a busy year for the company, but “a very exciting” one. He concluded: “We have another two trade shows launching at the end of the year alongside a whole year of events for a lifestyle brand we work with, and our smaller portfolio of conferences and workshops.”

Movers & Shakers 12/12/16

People moves at Jockey Club Catering, ExCeL London, INITIALS and more.

Jockey Club Catering


Richard Herring has been appointed catering general manger at Epsom Downs Racecourse, where he will oversee all catering operations and lead a team of up to 1,400 staff on key race days.

ExCeL London


ExCeL London has strengthened its conference and events team with the appointment of Terry Bower to the role of business development manager. Bower will bring experience from 20 years working in business development to the role.



Creative agency INITIALS has appointed Paul Gygi (pictured right) as its new creative director, with a specific focus on promotional live engagement. He has previously worked on campaigns for brands such as Guinness, Lucozade and Sony Mobile.



The NEC has restructured its senior management team and created two new roles.

Linda Ritchie, formally event director, will take on the role of venue general manager, while Gary Masters, formally security and traffic operations manager, has been appointed campus general manager.

Venues and Events International


Venue finding and event management agency Venues and Events International has announced the appointment of Matilda Burgess (pictured above) and Gemma Texeira.

Burgess joins as conference planning executive and Texeira has been contracted to assist with event delivery as a freelance project manager.

Dinosaurs in the Wild heads to Birmingham and Manchester

Dinosaurs are setting up home at the NEC and EventCity next year as part of a new immersive show combining theatre, theme park fun and scientific research launches.
Created by the producers behind dinosaur production Walking with Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs in the Wild will take up residence at the Birmingham venue from 24 June to 24 August 2017, and then head to Manchester’s EventCity in October 2017.
Creative director Tim Haines produced the landmark BBC TV series – which was seen by 800m globally and producer Jill Bryant headed the spin-off arena show of the same name, which attracted eight million visitors worldwide.
Bryant said: “We were keen to create something new that raised the bar for live action experiences. We are confident Dinosaurs in the Wild will do just that. This is a new dinosaur experience of unparalleled reality, where visitors will encounter these animals and their world in ways they have never seen before.”
Ian Taylor, venue sales director, NEC Group Conventions & Exhibitions, commented: “We are really looking forward to welcoming Dinosaurs in the Wild to Birmingham next June. We are experts at helping event owners bring their shows to life and we are confident the NEC will be a great launch venue for this experience. We are also delighted our venue – which currently welcomes 2.1m visitors a year – will be the first place for families to experience dinosaurs in a way that nowhere in the world has offered before.’’
The show is set up so that visitors will join time-travelling scientists at a research station – TimeBase 67 – built in the Late Cretaceous period 67m years ago, where they now study real, living, dinosaurs instead of fossils.
Guests will get safety briefings from their guides, travel through herds of dangerous dinosaurs, watch a dinosaur autopsy, witness hatchlings emerging from eggs and come eye-to-eye with a ‘very angry’ Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Andy Orr, managing director at EventCity, Manchester said: ‘’We haven’t hosted a show of this kind before but we’re very excited to do so and are positive EventCity will be a great home for this experience and the start of a new chapter for the venue. It’s going to be an amazing spectacle for all the family to enjoy and we can’t wait for the people of the city and the surrounding areas to see it.”

NEC invests in new Sports Show

The NEC has announced a partnership with the Sports Show, a new family event created to inspire kids to play, love and live sport.

The Birmingham venue has taken a 25 per cent stake in the inaugural event, headed up by Superskills founder Ed Rusling and rugby legends Will Greenwood and Austin Healey. The show will be held on 24-26 June 2016 at the NEC.

This is the first time in its history that the NEC has financially invested in an event where the venue team will play the role of joint organiser as well as host.

Ed Rusling, director of the Sports Show, said: “The Sports Show is going to be a playground of fun for kids across the country. We will be taking over most of the NEC and we plan to pack every inch with as many different sports as we can.”

The Sports Show will bring together a variety of sports and fun activities under one roof, where visitors will be able to try out more than 15 different sports including rugby, football, netball and athletics across the NEC’s indoor and outdoor event space.

The organiser is working closely with national governing bodies to ensure that each sport is delivered to the highest standard. The Rugby Football Union, England Netball Association, Table Tennis England and Badminton England have already given the event their official sign of approval, added the firm.

Paul Thandi, CEO of the NEC Group, said: “We’ve made some positive changes to the way we are structured to work with our existing and new customers, and working alongside Ed and his brilliant team is a great example of how we’ll be working with our customers in the future across all of our platforms.

“Sports and Family experiences are already close to us, so this is something we just love doing. We are really looking forward to being part of this project and turning the NEC into a fantastic sporting venue over the three days of Sports Show. This is an amazing opportunity for families and kids to take part in a large number of sports all under one roof and learn from sporting heroes.”

John Probyn, former COO of Live Nation joined the Sports Show team earlier this month, commenting: “I am very excited to be joining the Sports Show, it’s a challenging project but I will be part of a world class team and the opportunity to deliver something that has never been done before was just too hard to turn down.”