A new stage of development is opening at Northern Ireland’s Eikon Exhibition Centre, due to open in the autumn.

The project has moved into a penultimate phase and, when complete, will be the only bespoke exhibition centre in the province.

The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society’s multi-million pound investment follows the successful relocation of Ireland’s largest food and agri event, the Balmoral Show to the venue.

An experienced events team, relocated from the King’s Hall Complex, will assist the transition of progressive events and exhibitions to the Eikon.

The Eikon is located adjacent to Sprucefield on the edge of Lisburn City and around 15 minutes from Belfast.

Theresa Morrissey, the venue’s financial and commercial director said: “The construction of the Eikon will establish the venue as the premier exhibition and event centre for Northern Ireland.”

She described the location as “ideal, as has been demonstrated by the year on year increased visitor numbers to the annual Balmoral Show, which this year was in range of 90,000 with over 88% of visitors travelling in excess of 10 miles”.

A recent survey completed by 2,000 events attendees reinforced what visitors want from the Eikon: quality events, free on-site car parking, public transport options, modern facilities and friendly helpful staff.

Eikon has been designed for ease of use and includes permanent and innovative service installations to ensure that costs to organisers are known and minimised.

“With additional indoor events space programmed to open in 2016, event organisers can look forward to growing their events over time at the Eikon,” Morrissey added.

Substantial investment is being made in the venue’s electrical and mechanical installations, as well as in a cutting edge communications network. Features include a 360-degree accessibility with five vehicle load-in doors, designated exhibitor parking areas and free Wi-Fi.

One event already booked in is the Irish Golf Expo in November 2015 and Stewart Kyle, director of organiser Hawkeye Media, explained that a priority for their event “was a venue with central location and excellent accessibility to maximise footfall from across Ireland”.

Eikon was, he said, “the only venue in Northern Ireland which can provide the facilities to our specification all under one roof”.

The Eikon Exhibition Centre officially opens in autumn 2015 with a full calendar of events planned for the autumn season.