Harrogate Convention Centre featuring modern event spaces, iconic auditoria and new technology has been evolving for almost two hundred years.
Welcome to the home of events.
In 1835 The Spa Rooms stood on the site of today’s Hall M welcoming the British Medical Association in 1884. Royal Hall opened in 1903 as a venue for social events and meetings hosting The First British Advertising Convention as long ago as 1925. In the thirties Harrogate really started to gain its reputation as the place to hold business events and by 1937 the town was hosting thirty events a year.
In the mid 1940’s Harrogate’s event industry continued to grow and by 1953 almost 150 conferences were held each year.
In 1959 we added our first purpose-built event halls and by 1961 we were hosting 170 conferences annually, welcoming 44,000 people to the region.
More halls were added in 1966 and 1971 and shortly after an independent business tourism study recommended building a major conference centre in the town.
The report became the first step in creating our 2000-seat main auditorium which opened in 1982, hosting the Eurovision Song contest that same year.
Throughout the eighties and nineties Harrogate’s convention centre continued to grow and establish more exhibitions; however it became clear our oldest and best-loved asset was in need of attention.
Saving the past, building the future
At 100–years-old Royal Hall was beginning to show its age and in urgent need of repair. A thorough structural survey revealed the extent to which the building’s fabric had suffered over the years and the future of the theatre was in serious doubt. Determined the theatre must be saved for the people of Harrogate, a multi-million pound fundraising campaign was launched by a newly-formed Royal Hall Restoration Trust.
The hard work of the trust attracted funding from the National Lottery, Harrogate Borough Council and a number of wealthy backers. The campaign raised more than £10million and saw the theatre returned to its Edwardian splendour in an opening ceremony conducted by HRH the Prince of Wales in January 2008.
With Royal Hall providing a second venue for large conferences, banquets and live entertainment, we again turned to expanding exhibition space and work began on building Studio One and Studio Two.
These large, modern, eco-friendly halls opened in 2011, and brought a substantial increase to the overall floor space available for major events.
Our latest asset came in 2014 when we opened an on-site 107-bedroom Premier Inn which along with the existing Holiday Inn brought the number of bedrooms with direct access to the convention centre to 320.
Today, as one of the country’s leading multi-use venues we help a portfolio of professional associations, business corporations, not-for-profit organisations and event agents deliver exciting trade and consumer exhibitions, inspiring conferences, sumptuous banquets and spectacular entertainment. In 2016 these events attracted 300,000 visitors to Harrogate, contributing an estimated £60m to the local economy.
Some exhibition clients have made Harrogate their home for decades including “Christmas and Gift”, returning to the town annually for almost 70 years.