an event guide to olympia london

A Handy Venue Guide to Olympia London

Published on 25/04/2017

We hope you enjoyed our Handy Guide to ExCeL last week, or at least learned something new from our endlessly entertaining insights!

This week, we’ve chosen to focus on the unique piece of history that is Olympia, London.  Purpose-built in the 19th century from a starting vision to create the largest covered show centre in the UK, there are more than a few stories to be told about the life and times of this fascinating venue. 

Not only that, but from our years of direct experience helping clients exhibit there, we know exactly why Olympia, London makes such a wonderful and welcoming setting for just about any event.

A brief history

Found in the heart of the cultural hub that is West Kensington, the grand opening for what was then known as the National Agricultural Hall was on Boxing Day, 1886.  The impressive venue covered an area of four acres, and the Grand Hall was thought to be the largest building in the UK to be covered by one span of iron and glass.

The venue’s name was soon changed to Olympia, and as the years passed it took on many guises, from a temporary prisoner of war camp during the two World Wars, an army clothing store and a renowned dance hall. 

Many more changes ensued through the years, including several acquisitions.  In 2013 Olympia, London underwent an extensive redevelopment and these days the site features four event venues and a conference centre.  

The event venues consist of Olympia Grand, measuring around 210,000 sq ft, Olympia National, Olympia Central and Olympia West, each boasting just under 100,000 sq ft of prime, custom-designed event space.

Notable events

The very first Ideal Home Show was held at Olympia in 1908 (we’d love to have gone along to that one!) and this hugely popular event is still held there today.  Other firsts include the 1950 Food Fair, the incredibly quaint-sounding British Electronic Computer Exhibition in 1958 and 1948’s Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Exhibition.

Not that Olympia, London hasn’t played host to the cream of the entertainment world, too.  The Smash Hits Awards, Miss World, Crufts and London Fashion Week have all been staged there, with the coolest ever Olympia concert performer (in our opinion at least!) being one Jimi Hendrix.

Getting there

As impressively well-connected as a senior member of the Royal Family, Olympia, London is incredibly easy to get to.

Kensington (Olympia) trebles as an overground, underground and mainline rail station, while a hive of nearby underground stations include Barons Court, Hammersmith, Shepherd’s Bush and West Kensington.
Road-wise, plenty of on-site parking and an efficient vehicle booking system means you can unload your event equipment – and yourselves! – with ease.


Olympia, London is perfectly positioned to enjoy the very best that the thriving capital has to offer.  You’ll find yourself surrounded by a whole wealth of bars, restaurants and even a few places to rest your exhibition-weary head, with over 30 hotels to discover within walking distance.

On-site you’ll find an array of eateries to suit every taste, with a sit-down restaurant, bespoke bakery and espresso bar thrown in.  Specific on-site catering for your event can even be organised in advance.

The venue is equipped with full accessibility for wheelchair users and gives assistance animals as warm a welcome as their owners.

What else is available for exhibitors?

Olympia, London makes exhibiting supremely easy with its does-exactly-what-it-says-on-the-tin ‘Easy Guide to Exhibiting’, available as a download from its website. 

You’ll find this amazingly all-purpose venue comes fully equipped with everything you’ll need to make your brand shine, with IT services, AV equipment, advertising and even traffic marshalling all readily offered.


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