Hoteliers say city is in desperate need of more major events and concerts

Hoteliers say Bristol is in desperate need of more major concert and events.

The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) is calling for more to be done to speed up the development of the long-awaited YTL Arena.

Ashton Gate – home of Bristol City Football Club and Bristol Bears rugby team – has been praised for its efforts in putting the city on the musical map.

Earlier this month, the sports stadium hosted two Take That concerts which, between them, drew some 60,000 fans.

BHA Chair Raphael Herzog said: “Ashton Gate’s chief executive Mark Kelly said over 50% of all attendees to the Take That concerts were from outside the region, which meant they were staying in hotels, dining and drinking in local bars and restaurants and putting their pounds into the local economy.

“Mark said Bristol lacks big events and needs more all year round and we couldn’t agree more.

“While we applaud what Ashton Gate is doing, and the positive benefits they have brought to our businesses, there is a lot more than can be done, not least of which is to complete the Bristol Arena.”

The YTL Arena Bristol, at the former Filton Airfield’s Brabazon hangar, was originally expected to open in late 2025 but is now not likely to host its first event until the latter part of 2026 or even 2027, which is real blow for the city and the hospitality sector

With a capacity of 19,000, it is set to be the fourth largest venue in the country and an all-year-round destination, with conference and exhibition facilities as well as a proposed outdoor cinema, ice rink and sports courts.

Mr Herzog said: “The Take That concerts at Ashton Gate demonstrated that big-name acts will bring many thousands of people to our beautiful city.

“But while Ashton Gate is able to accommodate large events in the summer, during the winter its priority is to its sporting activities, whereas the Bristol Arena will be able to stage concerts and events all year round.

“For too many years, Bristol has been losing out to the likes of Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff, but the Arena will help level the playing field.

“People won’t just come for the specific gig or event, they will often stay overnight – if not longer – and explore the local area, too, which is great for the city’s economy.

“We really hope that everything that can be done is being done to get the arena open as soon as possible.

“And Mark Kelly is absolutely right when he says the city needs more big events all year round.

“We’ve got the balloon and harbour festivals, of course, which are hugely popular. We’ve also just had the Bristol Comedy Garden, which has seen big-names such as Harry Hill, Sara Pascoe, Josh Widdicombe and Dara O’Briain perform life.

“But it still feels as if we’re only scratching the surface of the potential Bristol has to become a major events and entertainment destination which will not only be good for our businesses but will provide a very welcome boost to the city’s economy.”


Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...