Manchester plans audacious £1bn World Expo 2025 bid

Greater Manchester is planning an ambitious £1bn bid to host what would be Britain’ biggest-ever public event. Council leaders are looking to hold the 2025 World’s Fair, a massive global exhibition also known as Expo, on a 300 acre site around Ashton Moss in Tameside.

If the audacious bid comes off, World Expo could end up being the most-visited event ever hosted in the UK, surpassing the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games and the London Olympics.

World expo is a mammoth six-month showcase of the best technology, manufacturing, and culture from across the world, while also significantly raising the profile of the host city.

The six-month long event is expected to attract 20m visitors to Greater Manchester from across the globe, say council sources, and create tens of thousands of jobs, permanently upgrading surrounding transport links and adding billions to the local economy. By comparison, around 10m people bought tickets to events at the London Olympics, so the size of World Expo would double that.

The site earmarked as the centrepiece for the bid is at Ashton Moss in Tameside and covers 271.8 acres and is less than six miles from Manchester city centre. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is urging the UK to bid to host the event to demonstrate that the UK is open for business and trade following the vote to leave the EU.

The World Expo takes place every five years and the six-month event is larger than any other global sporting and cultural event including the Olympics and World Cup. The most recent, Expo 2015, took place in Milan and the 2020 event will take place in Dubai.

Sir Richard Leese, Greater Manchester Combined Authority lead member for economic strategy, said: “The concept underlying the Northern Powerhouse, enabling the North to realise its potential and support the nation as a whole, is as much our strategy as the government's and it's important that they continue to show commitment to it.

“It has become an important identity internationally, crucial to our long term trade, growth and investment and World Expo 2025 could help the UK to build on this momentum. It is ambitious. But as the London Olympics, and the Manchester Commonwealth Games before them showed, tremendous economic and social benefits can flow from bold and concerted backing for a big idea." 

According to the GMCA, hosting World Expo 2015 would boost UK trade and investment to a level at least comparable to the 2012 London Olympics and attracting up to 28 million visitors as well as exhibitors and potential investors from around the world.

While the cost of hosting such a massive event would be in excess of £1bn, the GMCA pointed to the fact that previous World Expos have at least broken even through ticket receipts and they also belive that significant private-sector contributions could be explored. 

In addition, like with London 2012 and the 2002 Commonwealth Games, there is also potential to achieve even greater legacy benefits. Council bosses believe that the large site at Ashton Moss could become a hub for new economic growth with a significant legacy of jobs, housing and investment.

The location of Expo City in the UK is likely to be the subject of a government-organised competition, but Greater Manchester are very keen to be that city and would welcome the opportunity to put forward a bid.

Kieran Quinn, GMCA lead member for investment strategy and finance and leader of Tameside Council, said: "Hosting World Expo in the UK would touch the whole nation but we believe it would make sense to have it here, as part of the efforts to rebalance the national economy.”

If you would like to contact Andy Walker about this, or any other story, please email