Choosing the right conference location will attract even more delegates, providing greater networking opportunities for all those that attend. Claiming to be the best conference and event city destination is a bold statement from any city, including Belfast. What does a £1 billion investment over the last 10-years achieve? Well, for starters it has revamped Belfast city into an exciting world-class conference and events destination that has played host to some big name events including the G8 summit, 2014 MTV European Music Awards, and the Giro d’Italia cycle race. If you haven’t considered Belfast before, it’s time to take a fresh look and learn why clients are choosing this welcoming and creative city for such prestigious conferences and events.
With three airports in Northern Ireland, direct flights from over 20 European cities and a number of North American locations, getting to Belfast couldn’t be easier. Additionally, there are sea crossings from England and Scotland, and it’s only a 90-minute scenic drive from Dublin airport.
Belfast welcomed over 55,000 national and international conference delegates in the 12 months to June 2018 – a 77% increase on the previous 12 months proving its popularity on the world stage as the city of choice for conferences and events. Top class hotels with excellent conference facilities include, and are not limited to, The Merchant Hotel, Grand Central Hotel Belfast, Hilton Belfast, Europa Hotel Belfast, and the Crowne Plaza Hotel Belfast. Less conventional conference venues include the Grand Opera House, Titanic Belfast, Ulster Hall, Queens University Belfast, Crumlin Road Gaol. Without question, clients will find the perfect venue to suit every conference theme here. Belfast also has its own dedicated convention centre, ICC (International Convention Centre) Belfast, formerly called Belfast Waterfront. Only in Belfast can you hold your meeting in a prison cell, or a church or a castle or a Victorian market.
Belfast is in a hotel boom with approximately 3,400 bedrooms available presently and an additional 3,747 hotel rooms planned for the city centre in the near future, more than doubling capacity. On offer are three, four and five-star hotels to choose from – something to suit every budget.
Budget size is the biggest single deciding factor for clients when choosing a conference venue. Overall Belfast provides good value for money. Visit Belfast has set ambitious growth targets for business tourism, contributing to doubling the value of tourism by 2020. To achieve this, the city will sustain its competitive pricing on the conference and events global stage, making it an attractive choice for conference organisers.
There is plenty of choices when eating out in Belfast – Michelin star restaurants, fine dining, brasseries, bistros, gastro pubs, cafes and coffee shops. The city’s diverse cultural traditions offer a blend of local cuisine and fusion cooking ensuring there is something for everyone’s budget and taste.
Clients can relax safe in the knowledge that their conference delegates will appreciate a blend of contemporary and historical activities during their stay in Belfast. Some options include traditional music sessions in a local café or pub; take in a performance at the Grand Opera House; golf at Royal Belfast; spa resorts; indulge in some retail therapy in Victoria Square; captivating museums and galleries; stroll around the breathtaking Botanical Gardens; tour the vibrant Cathedral Quarter; relive history with a tour of the infamous murals of Belfast; explore the Titanic Quarter and the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience. Additional tours include driving along Northern Ireland’s beautiful Causeway Coast with a stop at the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site; unique Game of Thrones filming tours add something special to your conference social program.
Delegates will get the chance to explore more of Northern Ireland through trips organised by Eirebus DMC. Social events can be planned at Titanic Belfast; delegates can enjoy panoramic views and a drink on the rooftop of the 5-star Merchant Hotel Belfast, or dance the evening away at a street party in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter. No matter what your flavour, exclusive networking opportunities can be planned throughout the city, the limit is your imagination.
Belfast scooped a top accolade at the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards 2016, winning the Best UK City award. In 2018, Belfast was awarded the Best Conference and Incentive City Destination in the UK by C&IT Magasine.
Clients searching for a conference location with the wow factor will have difficulty finding anywhere better than Belfast, one of Europe’s most accessible, vivacious and flourishing cities. It delivers a combination of an increasing choice of exclusive venues, excellent hotel options, engaging attractions, and conference support services making it a superb choice for any client considering a conference in Ireland. Belfast offers something truly authentic and will inject a new lease of life into your conference itinerary.