Arena Seating designed and installed a complete venue transformation with a newly designed 9,000-capacity audience arena surrounding the showring in London’s ExCel for The London International Horse Show, 16th-20th December 2021.

This was the first year of a significant move from Olympia, where the show had been hosted for 49 years, to ExCel, with an increased capacity of 1,500. 

Arena started planning the design in February with clients Clarion and HPower Group and the venue’s operational team. 

The design was based on the mezzanine layout of Olympia, accommodating the VIP hospitality boxes and the Royal Box above the rear of the grandstand audience seats. 

The West stand also incorporated the entrance arch for the horses, dogs, performers and media commentary boxes, with multiple updates to the CAD drawings undertaken by Arena’s technical team to arrive at the final design at the beginning of November. 

The organisers delivered eleven spectacular shows across the five days, with a fabulous range of equine and canine performances and competitions thrilling the live and broadcast audiences.

HPower Group operations director Nick Brooks-Ward said:

Arena has delivered an unbelievable seating and dining experience for the brand-new London International Horse Show at ExCeL. Martin and his team were simply wonderful to work with. The attention to detail is second to none and they created a fabulous experience for all our guests.

Arena’s project director Martin Clark, along with site manager Dan Butler and project manager Nathan May led Arena’s experienced team, to transform the multiple halls of ExCeL in just 12 days. 

Construction of the 78m x 33.5m audience seating and hospitality infrastructure required a strict timeline, from the delivery of the equipment from the yard to the on-site team to the precise build schedule achieved in ExCeL. Clark commented:

The build has been a good challenge with Arena’s whole team, on-site and in the offices, delivering an impressive looking, expanded arena - maximising the capacity, whilst maintaining the sense of intimacy and building on the amazing atmosphere at previous years at Olympia. The first time doing anything of this scale is always going to be testing but we planned out every detail, to eliminate mistakes, and there was a great collaboration.

The team at Excel has been extremely helpful and provided me with an office and parking. The main liaison at ExCeL, Jamie Harvey, has been on the ball and kept a very good level of communication. Matt Constance, health & safety manager for the venue, was very happy with how we managed the site, health & safety-wise. It’s been enjoyable working alongside Clarion, ExCel, and H Power Group to successfully produce a show that is a very popular part of London’s Christmas tradition for so many families.