Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) celebrates 40 years of serving the community with conferences, exhibitions, entertainment and events

News 22 January 2024

News Story

Since opening its doors in September 1984, Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) has become a much-loved local landmark. It is an internationally recognised and award-winning venue popular for hosting conferences, exhibitions, cultural events, entertainment and hospitality.

Welcoming more than 300,000 visitors a year, the iconic venue hosts a versatile range of music, musicals, and comedy events year-round in partnership with its in-house event teams and industry promoters.

With four main halls including a 6,200-capacity standing arena, international superstars who have played there include Gary Barlow, One Direction, Tom Jones, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow and Bob Dylan. Other headliners over the past 40 years include performances from Diana Ross, Oasis, Girls Aloud, and Sir Elton John.

From Rum & Reggae Festivals, Oktoberfest, and Tattoo Exhibitions, there is no showcase, exhibition or theme the venue has not hosted.

Business events, conferences, and exhibitions are an integral feature of Bournemouth’s landscape too. Known for attracting high-profile clients from around the UK and Europe, the BIC is frequently attended by delegates from leading charities, professional associations, religious institutions, corporate clients, and public sector organisations. Events at the venue generate millions of pounds of economic benefit for the region each year and support thousands of jobs. With assistance from the events team and town partners, several corporate local social responsibility initiatives have been arranged for visiting clients such as beach cleans, food bank collections, and charity runs along the beachfront.

The venue regularly accommodates major trade shows and high-profile conferences such as political parties, national union congresses and medical associations. Exhibitions are also held at the venue throughout the year and have included wedding shows, flower shows, gin festivals, gaming expos, and pop culture conventions such as Bournemouth Film & Comic Con.

The impact of bringing these events to the region is felt far beyond the venue’s walls overspilling into the wider community, making a positive impact, and supporting business tourism by bringing custom to hotels, restaurants, and local businesses.

For the past 13 years, Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) has been operated by registered charity BH Live, in partnership with BCP Council.

BH Live’s team at Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) works closely with other town partners too including the Coastal BID to support Business Events Bournemouth, the region’s business tourism bureau, venue and hotel finder, to attract major events to the area.

BH Live has funded several major projects and all-weather attractions to improve the town’s offering with a diverse and appealing community programme for all.

These have featured dinosaurs, toy brick installations, sea creature exhibitions, interactive creepy crawly events, plus costume and film experiences. For over ten years the venue has been home to Cool Coast Ice Rink, one of the largest seasonal indoor ice-skating rinks on the South Coast. Operating annually from December to February, it attracted more than 30,000 visitors last year. In addition, the annual Bournevaria Oktoberfest festival has been delighting crowds for several years with bags of lederhosen, tankards, live music, and oompah!

Additional BH Live investment into the venue includes connectivity upgrades with a full enterprise-grade network installation providing faster WiFi and integrated networks for visitors, clients and members of the public. Furthermore, redecoration, new flooring, improved fixtures and fittings, equipment, repairs and energy efficiency works are underway 365 days a year. And more recently, Elevate Brasserie & Bar opened to the public in 2023 with stunning views across Bournemouth’s seafront, providing visitors, showgoers and delegates with quality food and drink.

BCP Council has made several investments into the venue too including LED lighting installations and fitting more than 900 solar PV panels to generate power and essential infrastructure works. £1.8 million was recently allocated by the council to revitalise the venue’s meeting room facilities and enhance public spaces with improved digital signage.

Steve Turner, BH Live’s Associate Director of Venues said;

“40 years of making a difference in our local community is such a huge milestone to celebrate. Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) benefits so many people whether that is through coming to see a cultural event, attending a business event, or visiting one of our seasonal attractions.

“Furthermore, as BH Live is a registered charity, any surplus revenue generated through our services is reinvested back into our local facilities to make sure we continue to have visitor appeal and keep bringing people into the town.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported us and visited the BIC over this past 40 years – and here’s to many more – we couldn’t do it without you.”

Looking ahead to its 40th year Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) has another diverse cultural and business events programme.

Highlights include musical, comedic and dance events with performances from Bill Bailey, Rick Astley, Diversity, Jason Derulo, Romesh Ranganathan, Paloma Faith, and many more. Oktoberfest will also return to the BIC in the autumn.

Click here to see what’s on at the BIC.