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I live in Birmingham and have been to loads of things at the NEC including concerts, shows and events. My uncle was a security guard there and he used to give me free tickets to stuff so lots of times I went even though it was something I wasn't very interested in just for something to do.
The NEC is a massive complex and has loads of different halls inside for different events. To give you an idea of the size of the building when Birmingham used to have the Motor Show there would be hundreds of cars arranged inside with loads of room between them so you could walk round and thousands of people visit every day.
Another regular event at the NEC is the Crufts dog show and that is wicked even though it gets a bit smelly. I have been to this loads of times and always had a good day watching the dog shows and talking to the handlers and I nearly brought an English Bull Terrier puppy from someone once but my dad wouldn't let me have it even though I was going to pay for it and look after it myself! The cruelty of it!
Me and my mum go to the Good Food Show every year and that is good as well but not as good as Crufts I don't think, but my mum disagrees because she doesn't like dogs! You get loads of free stuff at the Good Food Show because there are samples been given out at most of the stalls and because its at the end of the year my mum always stocks up on the Xmas booze and munchies because of how cheap it all is. I always feel sick when I leave though cos the stalls give out samples of hot food as well so you have a sausage one minute then a handful of nuts from the next stall then a bit of ice cream and then a pork pie and its too much food after a bit!
For concerts this is the main venue in the West Midlands and all the top bands come here unless they're the arty farty ones who would rather play the smaller venues. Theres loads of different genres from classical to rock and everything in between. It's dear to go to a concert here though and tickets are usually over £30.00 and then the band merchandise inside is a proper rip off and so are the drinks.
The disabled access is brill at the NEC and when i went with my cousin who'd broke his leg we were able to get round the building even though he was using a wheelchair at the time and had his leg stuck straight out in front of him. There's loads of toilets as well but the queues get massive when there's a concert on so I try not to drink too much and then run down to the loo when a song comes on that I don't like.
There's a massive car park at the NEC and because its right by the motorway its easy to get to and is signposted from the other side of Birmingham. When there's a popular event on the car park does get full and then its a game finding somewhere to park. Last year me and my mum went to the Good Food Show and we ended up having to take the car back and parking it in Town then getting the train to the NEC and that annoyed my mum because parking in town in a proper rip off but the charges aren't too bad at the NEC.
If you get the train you can get off at Birmingham International train station and then you can either walk through or get the shuttle bus that runs about every 20 minutes. There's hotels close as well so if your fave band is playing the NEC you can go and see them even if you live in Scotland and stay over in Birmingham.
I have made several visits to the NEC over the years - within the last 12 months I have gone to High School Musical on Ice in December 07, Crufts in March, Avril Lavigne in May and before the year is out will be going to a Mcfly concert - rest assured the only one of these events I wanted to go to was Crufts!!!
I have sat in different places across the arena and have never had a bad seat or poor visibility. The seats are not the most comfortable but definitely in line with other arenas.
The NEC itself is very easy to get to by train, bus, car or taxi. I avoid parking here if I can, the price is high - around £8 and it takes ages to get out after an event. I usually manage to get someone to drop us off at Birmingham International Train Station as it is only a short walk to the halls from there and just a bit longer to the main arena.
For the arena shows I have always gone into the large hall just before the entrance and this is where they sell drinks, snacks and merchandise. They do sell this once inside the doors too so if it is really busy it might be worth waiting and going to one of the stalls around the arena - but these are still busy!
I have never had a problem bringing a drink into the arena. Getting out after the event can take ages and it is quite easy to get a bit lost if you come out of a different door than the one you went in - I managed to get lost in May regardless of the fact I have gone here several times!
For Crufts they use all the halls as well as the arena and it really is mammoth in size so wear comfy shoes!
Ok so the NEC is home to so many shows a year it would be mad to write them all down but to name a few we have Crufts, the clothes show live, the good food show and then many many more. It is one of Birmingham's premier venues and a fantastic one at that. I visit quite often as there is always something on that I want to go and see and every time I think it is great so in this review I will tell you a little of what the NEC is all about and why it is worth checking what goes on there.
First where to find it:
The National Exhibition Centre,
Now the NEC is not right in the city centre so don't think you will be able to get into Birmingham and simply walk there but you can get a very short ten - twenty minute train ride to get there and you are in the middle of the action. By car you can go on the motorway and end up there quite quickly so it is easily accessible which of course for a place this big it is a good job it is so accessible.
When you are there it is a massive place. The car park can fit hundreds of cars and parking varies depending on the shows so expect to pay anywhere between £5 - 10. Train tickets are only a few pounds. When you are there via train or car you will be able to get shuttle buses to where you want to go from the car parks and everywhere is signposted from the train station.
Now the NEC is a huge building but very well looked after it is extremely clean. You will see posters on the wall for all of the exhibitors that are there or coming soon and there is also pictures that people have made locally. There are escalators and lifts available for those who need it and plenty of staff are always on hand if any help is needed while you are there.
The building has several show areas so you have to go to the one you need. You will have to show tickets to staff there and before you go into any exhibition there are toilets, newsagents and cafes there so you have everything you need.
Now of course the exhibitions have huge rooms but are always clearly signposted so you know where you are going. In each exhibition you will find several toilets, cafes and stalls to get drinks and food in case you need them.
The shows depending on what they are will have different layouts but there are theatres for the main shows which are clearly displayed and there will be a lot of stalls there whatever you see. From my experience whenever you go to a show there, it is a good atmosphere and it is put on very well indeed with lots to see and do.
The staff there are always helpful and the NEC is always a good laugh to visit. If you check the website for what is happening there and just go. Tickets for things all vary and I have spent as little as £8 or as much as £90 to go to something. It is always busy and lots of people go so I suggest that if you are driving to the NEC to start of quite earlier than you would usually as we always get stuck in traffic.
The building is fabulous and hosts many events so I really do recommend checking if there is anything you fancy on.
Also the NEC has good links to the airport and there are hotels nearby so you shouldn't really get stuck. A fantastic place and definitely somewhere great to keep updated with in Birmingham.
Thanks for reading.