Northern Ireland and Belfast are an up and coming destination for the meetings and incentive industry.
With stunning scenery, an interesting and varied history, UNESCO World heritage sites plus continued investment into tourism it is fast becoming a talked about location!
For such a small place it offers so much for any type of event, and of course the warm Irish welcome is something that is memorable and sticks with people long after they have returned home.
4 good reasons to choose Northern Ireland for your next event…..
- Easy access
You can fly to Belfast direct from 39 national & international countries. There are also many bus transfers from Dublin & Belfast airports. All the major cities can be reached easily by road. With the cities being small and compact, guests staying spend less time travelling from venue to hotel to tourism sight’s as everywhere is within walking distance.
- Value for money
Budgets can stretch far in Northern Ireland. Whether you are looking for high-end or something more standard, prices are reasonable and more affordable.
There are over 10,000 bedrooms available across a host of hotels, ideal for the meetings market.
- Great Food
Northern Ireland produces beautiful food with grass-fed beef & lamb, amazing seafood, bumper crops of vegetables (including potatoes of course), and unique local treats such as champ and griddle breads. Not forgetting the artisan cheeses, craft beers, gin and whisky.
Modern conference centres sit alongside grand 5 star hotels, all offering meeting facilities and accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. With over 60,000 bedrooms and in excess of 230 venues plus venues on offer, there is lots of choice!
Lida has recently been involved with an event in Belfast, read her account below of her stay detailing her personal experience of Belfast and some of the venues:
I have never visited Northern Ireland and, to be honest, I’m quite ashamed to own up to that, but I’ve put that right recently.
With my medical conference management hat on, I had my part to play in a large medical conference in Belfast in Autumn 2022.
I landed at Belfast City Airport, which is great if you’re staying at a hotel in the City Centre as it is only around 3 miles away. It’s a small airport, so everything is easy and there’s only one conveyor belt for bags so no confusion!
Transfers from the airport to the city can be by taxi or bus. Just a cautionary note you may wish to pre-book a transfer, if you’re in a hurry and are working to a tight schedule, to ensure you don’t have too long a waiting time.
I stayed at the Hilton Hotel Waterfront, which is just perfectly located if you’re attending an event, as I was, at the ICC Belfast. I should at this point say that the ICC is more commonly known by all the locals as the Belfast Waterfront and not the ICC Belfast!
This venue definitely has amazing conference facilities. The conference I was involved with had in excess of 950 delegates and three different streams so a number of different plenary rooms were required. It has a 2,200-seat auditorium, two interconnecting multipurpose halls spanning over 2,500sqm which can each be used as one large area, or sub-divided into smaller spaces, a number of smaller meeting rooms for 10-200 pax, two exterior terraces, gallery and bar areas and a new dedicated entrance leading to a large (660sqm) reception area, perfect for registration and general seating/ hanging out space.
The staff and catering at the ICC were both of an exceptional standard. They can cater for all your conference needs, including special dietary requirements, AV support in addition to standard equipment
I was extremely busy during the four days that I was there so sadly I saw very little of the city itself. However, I’ll share my experience of just a couple of things that I did.
On the final evening, the organisers had arranged a relaxing event, for those who wanted to partake, in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast, about a 10 minute walk from the ICC. Two venues were secured for conference delegates and there was live music at both venues. Delegates had to purchase a ‘voucher’ which could be exchanged for 2 drinks, at either venue, and a cash bar was available afterwards. The pubs were the Dark Horse and the Orpheus Ballroom. The Dark Horse had an amazing wonderful outside courtyard space filled with fun murals. The Irish phrase ‘Ceol agus craic’ (pronounced k-yole ah-gus crack) which means music and fun, summed up the evening!
On the last day, I managed to get out and did a Black Cab Tour. The cost for these tours is £50 and well worth it and of course if you’re 2-3 people in the cab together it represents good value for money. The tour is anything between 1.5-2hrs and is a rather fascinating tour which helps unpick the complicated history of Northern Ireland. The drivers and guides all lived through and were actively involved in the turbulent history of Belfast and NI. The driver and ‘guide’ provides a live narration of the past and you get to see historic photographs as well as stopping to marvel at the now-famous Belfast peace walls and murals. You’ll get driven along the Falls Road and Shankill Road. It’s a great way to learn and understand more about The Troubles and is a must for history enthusiasts.
The Titanic Museum is another ‘must see’ if you’re in Belfast, it is a great venue for conference receptions and dinners. One of the sponsors took a group to the Museum for a Reception one evening and the second back-to-back conference were holding their Gala Dinner there on the Saturday.
Visit Belfast manned a desk at the Conference and were most helpful in suggesting all types of places to visit to conference delegates, enhancing the visitor experience to Belfast.
We have also written another blog highlighting Belfast as a conference destination
Belfast is certainly ‘up there’ with the other major cities in the UK so why not try somewhere different for your next event?