Released: October 11, 2023

New five-year events strategy in pipeline to bolster city as visitor destination

An exciting and sustainable five-year events strategy for City of Wolverhampton will be considered by the council’s Cabinet next Wednesday (October 18).

It forms part of wider ‘place-shaping’ plans to secure the city’s status and reputation regionally and nationally as a ‘destination of choice’ for visitors.

The city is starting from a position of strength and already has an events ecology with over 1,000 events taking place every year at different scales and locations, and with a range of different promoters – independent, community, private/commercial and the council.

The new five-year operational events growth plan, recommended by industry experts IPW, will deliver a commercially focused programme aimed at boosting footfall, increasing economic and social benefit and transforming the reputation of the city.

Figures from the West Midlands Growth Company's STEAM report showed the visitor economy of the city was up 21 per cent to £400 million in 2022 and the city attracted 10 million visitors last year.

Major events included the Commonwealth Games Time Trial (20,000 visitors), the annual city Fireworks display (17,000), Christmas Lights events (nearly 40,000) alongside very many smaller events in parks that attract 50 to 100 people.

More recently, Vaisakhi saw 23,000 visitors in April, Wolverhampton Pride in June brought 5,000 people into the city centre, and Krazy Races attracted 12,000 visitors in August. The reopening of The Halls has also seen visitors from across the country coming to the city. More than 50,000 came to Wolverhampton during opening season, with four-out-of-five visiting from the wider region and elsewhere.

The success of these events has been built on the council investing in, or securing investment for, over £100million of key visitor economy infrastructure projects, such as a state-of-the-art transport Interchange next to a thriving commercial district, The Halls Wolverhampton, a new Box Space entertainment zone, new public realm and improvements to the city’s Art Gallery.

The city’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) also identifies that the visitor, cultural and events sector is a key potential growth area for jobs and investment – also boosting the Wolverhampton Pound.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for Visitor City, Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, said: “We have so much to be proud of in our city and, with the development of this five-year events strategy, so much to be excited for.

“We are committed to developing this strategy not only because hosting high-profile events will bring a welcome economic boost into our city and raise our profile on the national stage, but because they offer a great opportunity for our local people.

“We want the plans we are drawing up to really benefit residents here in the city, whether that be through great entertainment, the chance to volunteer or develop new skills, or the opportunity to find work.”