The O2 and Wembley enjoy bumper 2023


Wembley and O2 with record numbers in 2023 Image: The O2 & Coliseum GSVA

Two of London’s leading sports and entertainment venues – The O2 and Wembley Stadium – both had years to remember in 2023.

Wembley Stadium connected by EE continued to deliver more unforgettable moments throughout 2023 – the year of its 100th anniversary.

Over the past 12 months, Wembley hosted 30 major events and welcomed over 2.2 million guests into the stadium. It proved to be another ground-breaking year for the venue, with more memorable moments to add to the illustrious number of historical events to have taken place at Wembley Stadium since it first opened its doors in 1923.

While history was being made on the pitch, improvements were made off it too. In the summer, the stadium had a £5 million revamp to further boost fans’ experience at the venue.

Hospitality spaces, security and digital signage underwent comprehensive upgrades. The investment included an overhaul of the long bar areas on level two, which now provide a more relaxed environment for spectators to enjoy food and drinks.

Turnstiles and accessibility entrances were also made more secure, based on recommendations from the Baroness Casey review of issues during EURO 2022. A new three-metre perimeter fence is underway, and roller shutters are being added to external concourses for additional safety measures.

The two large screens at each end of the stadium will be upgraded in 2024, with improvements to hospitality areas on level 5 also in the pipeline.

On the sports front, England’s Lionesses became the first ever women’s Finalissima winners when they defeated Brazil 2-1 in April. The men’s team also went through the year unbeaten at Wembley, securing qualification to EURO 24 with a 3-1 win over Italy in October.

Sports history was also made in August, when, for the first time ever, the annual rugby league Challenge Cup Finals’ Day featured the women’s final. St Helen’s women were the victors, beating Leeds Rhinos women 22-8. Leigh Leopards won the men’s final, claiming a first Challenge League Cup final for 50 years.

In October, the NFL came to Wembley again. Jacksonville Jaguars beat Atlanta Falcons in what was their 10th appearance at the stadium. The national stadium is now a second home to the Jags who are having their most successful NFL season to date.

When not hosting sporting spectacles, Wembley Stadium was home to some of the biggest and best music concerts this year. In June, Harry Styles performed four sold-out shows to more than 320,000 delighted fans. Blur also returned for two sold out gigs, while The Weeknd rounded off the summer with a spectacular stage show in front of more than 80,000 fans.

August also saw Wembley put on one of the biggest entertainment shows this year when AEW Wrestling brought its All In show to London. It was the first major wrestling event at Wembley since 1992, when the stadium hosted WWE’s Summerslam event. Following its success, AEW immediately announced it would be returning to the venue in 2024 for another show.

Stadium Director Liam Boylan said: “Throughout its 100-year history Wembley has played an important role in so many momentous occasions across music, sport, and entertainment.

“It has been the place for some of the most iconic moments in UK history. We are delighted to have continued that tradition with another big year of special events here at the stadium and look forward to delivering more big moments in 2024.”

2024 is set to be a big year for Wembley Stadium, as it prepares to host the Champions League Final for a record eight time. The venue will also be home to a record-equalling eight nights of Taylor Swift’s record-breaking The Eras Tour – all of which are already sold out. Bruce Springsteen and Green Day will be performing, with more great acts to be announced soon.

Record tickets sales at The O2

Meanwhile, 365 Retail said The O2 recorded a significant increase in visitor footfall and sales in 2023, cementing its position as a sought-after location for live entertainment, leisure, and retail experiences.

Throughout 2023, The O2 attracted over 8.9 million visitors, marking a 17% increase from 2022. This surge in footfall coincided with a notable 31% rise in sales compared to the previous year.

The O2’s success extended to its arena, which celebrated a record year in ticket sales. Hosting 216 events, including performances by notable artists and marking important milestones, the arena contributed significantly to the overall triumph of The O2.

Outlet Shopping at The O2 saw a 25% increase in sales, while the Entertainment District experienced an even more impressive 34% boost. This growth was accompanied by the addition of 18 brands, encompassing over 61,000 sq ft of space, further diversifying The O2’s offerings.

The Entertainment District also reported remarkable growth. Notable increases in sales were observed during key periods such as Easter half term, October Half Term, and December. This growth was bolstered by the introduction of new F&B and leisure options, including JD Wetherspoon’s ‘The Stargazer’, Afrikana, Chipotle, Padel Social Club’s development, and iFLY Indoor Skydiving’s London debut.

Janine Constantin-Russell, Managing Director at the Entertainment District and Outlet Shopping at The O2 said, “I’m extremely proud of the team here at The O2 and everything that we have achieved in 2023. It has been a very special year for us, as not only did it mark Outlet Shopping at The O2’s fifth anniversary and deliver record-smashing results, but it was also our first full year of trading since 2019. Together, we demonstrated our agility, creativity and active outlook, as we continued to respond to the needs of our visitors and tenants. As we look ahead to 2024, we remain committed to contributing to London’s wider retail, leisure and entertainment scene; evolving, diversifying and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.”

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