Why choose Belfast as your next conference destination
Update: This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated to improve accuracy and relevancy.
As the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast has a unique history and a culture rich with a variety of traditions, from Gaelic music and sports to world-famous events like St Patrick’s Day.
Though despite being well-known for its entertainment value and traditional culture, the exciting city has developed a strong reputation in business tourism.
In this article we’ll look at what makes Belfast a leading destination for the UK meetings, incentive, conference and events (MICE) industry, and key reasons to consider Belfast for your conference events.
Belfast: a ‘best events destination'
Pitted against event destinations including Rotterdam and Monaco, Belfast was named the Best Events Destination at the Conference and Incentive Travel magazine (C&IT) Awards in 2018.
- Awarded Most Business Friendly City 2018/19 by FDi Intelligence.
- Belfast and the Causeway Coast were named Lonely Planet’s Best Region in the World in 2018.
- Belfast hosted the 2019 C&IT Agency Forum with the first ever Corporate Summit for influential event planners.
Source: Visit Belfast.
VisitBelfast, Belfast’s official tourism agency, has commented on the growth potential of the city’s events industry.
“Hosting large-scale events like the MTV Europe awards, giro d’italia, the world police and fire games, and conferences like the world council of credit unions congress, British orthopaedic association congress and the ASGBI conference, has led to huge growth in the city’s business tourism. Over one billion pounds has been invested in the city’s tourism infrastructure in the past ten years, and the growth is still going.”
Belfast’s impressive portfolio of hosted events is only set to increase alongside its impressive professional venue offering, with a multitude of reasons as to why it’s the perfect choice for a conference or event.
Interested in learning more about our recommended global conference destinations? See our 2021 conference destinations guide!
Top Belfast conference venues
A £29.5 million expansion to Belfast Waterfront has put the city on the map as a world-class international conference and exhibition destination. The venue expansion aims to deliver an estimated 55,000 additional conference delegates to the city by 2020.
A winner of C&IT’s Best Venue award, the ICC Belfast has been awarded for its combination of innovation, expertise and successful service.
The ICC offers over 7000m² of flexible event space for different sized conferences, meetings, conventions, gala dinners and more.
Belfast Castle is just 10 minutes from the city centre and is rated as one of Love Belfast’s most impressive corporate event settings.
The grand estate offers brilliant views of the city and lakes, giving delegates a peak into Northern Ireland’s impressive landscapes.
Belfast’s titanic attractions
As well as being highlighted as one of the safest and happiest places to live in the UK, Belfast is renowned for its contemporary vibe, modern architecture, and beautiful surrounding scenery.
It is home to 2016’s World Leading Visitor Attraction, Titanic Belfast. The city also offers a plethora of fine-dining options with locally sourced products, which will ensure that your trip is as tasty as it is fascinating!
Beyond Belfast there’s the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway, which forms a spectacular landscape along the North East coast.
While not far from the jaw-dropping north coast, there are places such as the ‘Dark Hedges’ which have achieved international acclaim from being featured in the hit TV series, Game of Thrones.
The benefits of a city conference destination
As an event management company, we are constantly looking for inspiration and information around new and exciting places to suggest for our clients’ events, especially when creating and delivering conferences, exhibitions, and business meetings. Unlike incentive events, business-focused events look to provide a ‘workplace away from the office’ and offer employees the opportunity to network, allowing them to develop their career prospects and learn more about their industry.
Here, at First Event, we understand that finding the right location for a conference, exhibition, or business meeting is paramount, and can be the difference between a good event and a fantastic event. The nature of business-focused industry clients means that often, an easily accessible city-based event venue that reflects the constantly developing and fast-paced business industry in a modern location is something to take into consideration when selecting a destination.
As one of the most famous cities in Ireland, Belfast offers everything worth experiencing in a city and more – character, versatility and modernity. The Belfast Waterfront alone is a purpose-built conference and entertainment centre, providing venue space for a multitude of conferences, exhibitions, and meetings.
Along with a variety of venue spaces to host your event, this evolving city also boasts convenient travel connections to the UK, making it an easily accessible, well-connected destination. For example, the Belfast International Airport-London Gatwick link, which has twelve connections a-day, is the UK’s busiest domestic route.
The other major attraction is the fact that Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, is a Sterling currency region. There’s no currency exchange loss or financial penalties, unlike the rest of the island of Ireland which uses the euro. Pound for pound, there’s greater client value to be had in selecting Northern Ireland for your conference business.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Deirdre Hargey, is confident in what Belfast has to offer for those looking to hold conferences and exhibitions, and welcomes the prospect of new custom and tourism in the city:
“Belfast is a modern, warm, welcoming and appealing city committed to ensuring that every visitor need is matched with a choice of quality facilities and an outstanding hospitality provision and I’m excited that this collaborative, industry-led campaign will help in ensuring that our story and our strengths are widely shared.”
With over one billion pounds having been invested in the city’s tourism infrastructure over the past ten years, there’s no wonder that Belfast is rapidly becoming a popular location for conferences. The future looks bright for this beautiful city, and its events potential looks only set to grow.
Interested in hosting a conference in Belfast? Get in touch and see how we can help you bring your event vision to life.