December’s Venue of the Month – first direct arena , Leeds

First direct arena is located in the vibrant city centre of Leeds, a world-class venue with a choice of luxury function rooms and versatile spaces, boasting a breath-taking and unique design. Hosting live music, comedy, entertainment shows, conventions, exhibitions, conferences and sporting events, and was voted Best New Venue in the World at the 2014 stadium business awards.

The Arena’s unique “super theatre” style configuration is designed to enhance the visitor experience, with all seats facing the stage and high quality acoustics providing the best experience in the UK, and certainly a unique space to cater an event with the main auditorium having the capacity to transform into a diverse banquet, conference or special event space for up to 12,000 people.

Visitors, guests, delegates and presenters alike, will enjoy a more intimate atmosphere with reduced viewing distances inside the venue which can accommodate up to 12,000 or 2,200 square meters exhibition space. It is an ideal venue to stage your product launch, exhibition, dinner, convention, awards, AGM, conference, celebration, fund raiser, meeting, road show, car launch, fashion show, reception.

Event organisers will be truly excited by the tailored approach of ensuring that expectations are exceeded with every ‘touch point’ – be prepared to ‘wow’ your guests with an unforgettable event experience. If your event deserves first class facilities with a difference, it belongs at first direct arena.

We’ve had the pleasure of catering at the venue exclusively since 2015, some of the venue’s event highlights include:

Sports Personality of the Year – 2013

The star-studded event was held at the arena in its 60th year; the event featured over two hours of celebration, looking back at the sporting events that had made the headlines and the sports men and women who made them. Hosted by Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan, the event was also broadcast live on BBC One.

Tour de France Team Presentation Ceremony – 2014

As part of Yorkshire’s Grand Départ of the Tour de France we hosted the first major event of this historic occasion the official Tour de France Team Presentation Ceremony. For the first time ever the presentation of the teams, featuring some of the greatest names in cycling, were part of a unique show – making it the biggest in the history of the Tour de France. we’ve been given the honour on the further 3 occasions after this of catering the event for the teams and VIP’s.

MOBO Awards – 2015

The MOBO’s headed to Leeds in 2015 to celebrate their 20th anniversary and the very best of British urban music in the amazing First Direct Arena. Hosted by Sarah-Jane Crawford, stars including Idris Elba, Rita Ora, CeeLo Green, Stormzy and Tinie Tempah also attended. And the arena was thrilled to have the awards back again for 2017 with the event having just taken place on Wednesday 29th November!

The Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Awards – 2017

This year’s White Rose Awards were truly unmissable and we had the honour of catering Yorkshire’s most prestigious event for the 3rd year running.

Held at the magnificent first direct arena, the black tie event began with an exclusive gin based drinks reception from Slingsby of Harrogate  before guests were treated to a host of amazing entertainment; as the ceremony celebrated the county’s thriving tourism industry and all of the fantastic people that contribute to it.

This year we teamed up with the owner and chef of the Michelin-starred The Box Tree, Simon Gueller to produce a sumptuous menu, filled with the finest food that Yorkshire has to offer. See the full gallery of the event on the White Rose Awards website . 

Lisa Turton Head of Sales and Hospitality at the arena gives her 4 top tips on holding an exhibition event: 

1.Determine the Location
Pick a location where you’d like to host your exhibition. Pick a popular city which would attract the most attendees and that’s convenient for both exhibitors and attendees. Additional factors to consider when choosing a location include the weather, transportation, city appeal and the availability of event facilities.

2.Start Planning Well in Advance
One of the keys to successful trade show management is giving yourself enough time to plan and successfully implement your event.

3.Provide Food and Beverages
Food and beverages are integral to every event experience, especially after your attendees have spent a considerable amount of time walking around and talking. It is also considerate to provide catering for exhibitors, who do not have the chance of leaving their stands for meals.

4.Post event follow up
As with every event, it is essential to follow up at the end of your exhibition with your exhibitors and attendees. This helps to build a positive relationship between your company and its industry partners, and sets you up with a list of potential sponsors, participants, and attendees for your next event.

Main auditorium capacities, facts and figures

Intrigued to find out more? For more information on conferencing and events at first direct arena, please contact Lisa Turton on or call 0113 386 3607.

To book tickets or hospitality at an upcoming event at first direct arena please visit their website

first direct arena
Arena way

0844 248 1585

Twitter: @fdarena
Facebook: @firstdirectarena