Bilbao puts itself to the test in 2018 as the host of large international events


The year in which The Academy of Urbanism has chosen it as the Best European City, Bilbao and the Province of Biscay are putting to the test their capacity as hosts to a succession of large-scale internationally recognised events.

The first challenge took place in recent weeks: hosting the finals of the European Rugby Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup, which for the first time in the history of this sport were contested outside the Six Nations circuit. The result couldn't have been more positive: 32,543 fans made Bilbao the second most popular host city in this competition, while vital aspects such as safety and security, cleanliness, hotel capacity and coordination of all implicated agents have received the organiser’s highest praise.

The venue for this sporting encounter was the San Mamés stadium, built according to the most stringent UEFA standards, and which in recent years has been the recipient of accolades including “Stadium of the year 2015”, awarded by the “World Stadium Congress” and second place in the “Stadium of the year awards” of the prestigious Stadium DB magazine.

The Euskalduna Conference Centre, a large multi-purpose complex of 58,200 m² located in the centre of the city, will undergo its own litmus test on 19 June. This is the date the already prestigious Basque cuisine receives a visit from some of the most recognised chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and opinion leaders in the field of world gastronomy. The reason behind this is the awarding of prizes for The World´s 50 Best Restaurants, the list created each year by Restaurant magazine with the 50 best culinary establishments in the world.

Towards the end of the year, 4 November sees the turn of the Bilbao Exhibition Center (BEC), another of the flagships for the holding of large-scale events in the city. Its 150,000 square metres, distributed across 6 pavilions that host 160 annual events with one million attendees, are the chosen setting for the MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs), an event that recognises the musical successes of the year at an international level, and which will surely have a surprise or two in store for us on its 25th anniversary.

Besides all this, our city’s diary for 2018 also includes a good number of sporting events –Bilbao Triathlon 2018, Red Bull Cliff Diving, The Vuelta Cycling Tour of Spain– and cultural ones –BBK Live 2018, BBK Music Legends Festival 2018, BIME Bizkaia International Music Experience, Bilbao Friends of the Opera Association (ABAO) opera season–. But above all, the field of entrepreneurs and professionals, where Bilbao-Bizkaia boasts a consolidated position that allows it to host important national and international events each year.

Air connections

Another of the big dates this year was Routes Europe, an event on air connectivity in Europe, which without doubt will improve the positioning of an airport that is now northern Spain’s main air communication node. With 20 airlines operating regularly and a connection, via 55 predominantly daily flights, with Europe's main airports, Bilbao connects directly, and on average in 1 to 3 hours, with the main hubs and capitals on the European continent and with the majority of Spain’s cities, with a frequency of over 100 weekly flights to both Madrid and Barcelona. New additions this season are direct connections with Sweden, Austria and Malta, and a sixth German destination, Hamburg, which can be added to Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart.


New hotels

The city and its metropolitan area boast around 4,000 hotel beds, all well located, frequently found in historical buildings and cutting-edge constructions. A number of projects are forecast to be added to these over the next twelve months, providing 400 beds in four and five-star establishments.


Other venues:

As well as the aforementioned Euskalduna Conference Centre, Bibao Exhibition Centre and San Mames Stadium, the city claims a good number of spaces in which to organise unique events, such as the emblematic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Iberdrola Tower with its privileged views, the Sociedad Bilbaina, a place where you can find the tradition and history of the city, the innovative and multi-purpose space offered by YIMBY, and centres of culture and knowledge that are also open for holding private meetings, such as the Arraiga Theatre, the recent prize-winning Azkuna Zentroa, Bizkaia Aretoa, Ría de Bilbao Maritime Museum, Sala BBK and the Campos Elíseos Theatre. And if the city gets a bit overwhelming, you can always drive to the Urdaibai biosphere reserve to enjoy a glass of txakoli in the beautiful Berroja Winery. Or you can visit the Encartaciones region and enjoy Europe’s only collection of Rolls Royces, on display in the Torre Loizaga fortress complex.


The Bilbao Convention Bureau is a municipal department, at the service of the organisation of MICE events. It boasts a professional team and the infrastructure necessary to attract and promote all types of meetings and events in the city. Further information can be found on its website:


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