UK & Euro Venues Are Building On Strong 2023: ‘More Blockbuster Entertainment, For Sure’ (6th Annual Magna Charta Special)

The O2 Post Malone 4th May 2023 by Luke Dyson LD3 0138
Post Malone performing at London’s O2 in May 2023. (Picture by Luke Dyson

The world’s busiest arena, The O2 in London, England, celebrated a record 2023, selling more than 2.5 million tickets, according to senior vice president and general manager Steve Sayer. 1,167,294 of those tickets had been reported to the Pollstar Boxoffice in the reporting period Feb. 1, 2023 to Jan. 31, 2024, placing the building on the top spot in terms of gross ($139,963,549), and on the third spot in terms of reported number of tickets sold. Sayer expects 2024, and indeed 2025, to continue on the same trajectory: “More blockbuster entertainment, for sure! The diary is incredibly busy with a plethora of shows confirmed.”

The 1975 were in the middle of a four-night residency at The O2 at the time of writing – special concerts, as they were realized in collaboration with carbon removal experts CUR8, and sustainable event specialists A Greener Future to make them carbon-free.

Measures taken by The O2 included a “whole new low-carbon menu,” reusable cups, compostable serveware, a carbon levy on parking, a green rider giving “every production concrete information on how they can use The O2’s infrastructure to reduce the impact of their tour,” and other energy saving initiatives, including the continued roll-out of LED lighting throughout 2024, which has “already saved enough energy to power 108 UK households for a year,” according to Sayer.

The Darkness Concert In Brussels
The audience at AB, Ancienne Belgique, Nov. 22, 2023, when The Darkness came to Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Elsie Roymans/Getty Images)

Leading the club chart is Ancienne Belgique, which sold 218,534 tickets in the reporting period, grossing $6,808,653. With all the highs this business has been experiencing over the past months COVID seems way in the past. It’s easy to forget that 2023 was actually the first year Europe’s venues could operate without interruptions since the pandemic began.

Ancienne Belgique’s artistic director Kurt Overbergh said, “most people forget, but in the first months of 2022, we were still closed. When we reopened under restrictions in March, and without restrictions in April, we still had to cope with the enormous problem of no-shows – sometimes up to 25%-30% of ticket buyers didn’t show up. Since the fall of 2022, everything’s ‘back to normal.’ 2023 was the first year we were able to program the whole year round again, and it ended up being the best year in our 40-year history.”

Big arena news is coming from Manchester, where Co-op Live is scheduled to open at the end of April. The city’s AO Arena, which ranks fourth on the arena chart with 1,039,412 reported tickets sold for a $82,776,058 gross, just completed a huge redevelopment, increasing capacity and improving the fan experience on all levels. All promoters Pollstar has been speaking with in recent months believe the city has enough room and demand for two arenas, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Tony Goldring, head of WME’s international music department, said during Pollstar Live!, that there were “a number of markets with one arena [only], and if you route tours, and it’s not available, what do you do?”

In the stadium realm, one of the world’s most famous buildings, the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, Spain, which also just underwent major renovations, is officially open for concert business.

Peso Pluma Concert In Madrid
Peso Pluma performs at WiZink Center, the number one arena on the Magna Charta in terms of ticket sales. The concert took place on Nov. 21, 2023 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Javier Bragado/Redferns)

Manuel Saucedo, general manager of WiZink Center Madrid, the number one arena in terms of ticket sales on the Magna Charta (1,394,694 tickets sold, $96,280,950 grossed), said, “several artists and bands want to test this new stage, which could affect us at some point. We will see what really happens in the future, but the truth is that stadiums are going to be relevant for stadium tours, and we are an arena.” As things stand, Saucedo has nothing to worry about. Coming out of a record 2023, he said, “We know is that 2024 can be a record year for WiZink Center, too – because of the number of concerts we have already confirmed, but also because of the possible dates that we have on the table.”

Subscribe to Pollstar HERE