Manchester: The Rise of The North!

17th Jan, 2020

A bridge between an austere past and a prosperous future, Manchester is the place where to witness the radical transformation of a constantly changing city. Physical, professional and definitely post-modern. Come discover it with us.

On the top floor of luxurious Radisson Collection Hotel, The Edwardian Manchester, it was impossible to look away from the sea of cranes that offered the city skyline a dystopian atmosphere. Manchester is an unfinished project and, like in all ongoing projects, there is a mix of excitement with great anticipation for a future that already shows its face.

Both domestic and international investments are already moving to Manchester and this is reflected in the MICE engine. Gateway to northern England, Greater Manchester wants to assert itself as a global destination for international delegates, thanks to new events and a new airport terminal expected to receive an additional 20 million visitors.

With the support of one of the largest student campuses in Europe, the establishment of a scientific research and development cluster and a boom in the hotel sector, the roadmap for meetings in the education, health and cultural sectors is passing through here.

On the other hand, the traction of a rampant youth and its cultural diversity, which sparked a social renaissance of 2.8 million people, prepared the city to host Europe’s largest arts centre: The Factory, planned for 2021.

Manchester currently boasts the UNESCO’s title of creative city of literature and firmly imposes itself as the de facto capital of Northern England. Two hours from London by train, the city provides over 200 direct flights with quick train rides (20 min) from the airport.

The Conference Tour

Symbolising this renovation, the award-winning venue Manchester Central showcases the city’s premier space for congresses, conferences and business meetings. Established in what was once the old city centre’s train station, this building played several roles until it reached the current convention complex, which retains its Victorian architecture with state-of-the-art facilities. A familiar figure for the Mancunians, this venue preserved the same characteristics for over 130 years and now features a multifunctional space with an iconic large and divisible Central Hall, an 804-seat Exchange Auditorium, an exchange hall for trade exhibitions, several galleries, meeting and exchange rooms with internal IT, AV, catering and event management services.

During our city tour, this liberal and innovative sentiment fueled by connectivity and partnership was slowly deciphered by Manchester’s long history of protest and rebellion. From the industrial revolution at its core in Castlefield and Ancoats to the Peterloo Massacre, through an intrinsic history of Marxism, left-wing politics and suffragette movements, this city has always carried a leading position in political and social progress. All of these elements can be seen in libraries, such as John Rylands or Chetham’s, and in bastions like the Royal Exchange Theatre or Midland Hotel (where Rolls met Royce) that crystallise a time that followed another pioneered era. A collective organisation around the same narrative and strategy: promoting Manchester as a whole.

The Hotels

At the exquisite Edwardian, luxury hides a historic part of the city within the walls. The Grade II-listed Free Trade Hall, once a venue for political speeches and a concert hall - who has never heard of Bob Dylan’s and Sex Pistols’ ground-breaking concerts here? - is now an upscale hotel with 22 fully equipped meeting rooms and spectacular events venue that can accommodate as many as 550 guests.

Other training rooms, business centres and premier boardrooms can be found at The Hallé, nothing less than the original Free Trade hall itself.

Nearby, The Lume is a new 19-storey hotel development shared by Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites, which plans to rebranding to Hyatt-branded properties in early 2020. You can ‘stay for a month, meeting or martini’ at this hotel complex, as you can enjoy one of the Plaza’s 212 hotel rooms or the 116 studios and one-bedroom suites from the catalog. As for meetings, Crowne Plaza has a dedicated events floor, with flexible spaces and seven rooms including executive boardroom and creative attic.

Just around the corner, we face the stunning Principal Manchester timing our journey with its clock tower. This architectural masterpiece in downtown Manchester is a time machine lined in silk and cotton. Among its classic, executive rooms and suites, this museum hotel also houses meeting rooms, a ballroom and lounge, along with the Refuge, a dining space right next door. A movie set that recalls the mystique of old hotels.

The Universities

The university conglomerate is also a fundamental part of the global thinking of this city. Relevant institutions responsible for 25 Nobel Prize winners, including the creation of the world’s first stored-program computer or the isolation and characterization of graphene, the two universities focus their attention on the forefront of science, technology and engineering. The slogan ‘Where great minds meet’ is no accident.

The Manchester Metropolitan University prides itself on putting sustainability and ecology at the core of its contemporary spaces, featuring multiple meeting rooms, lecture theatres and residential accommodation. A good example is ‘MetMUnch’, an award-winning global student-led social enterprise that conducts training sessions for schools and businesses.

Grouped around Oxford Road and very close to each other, we found the University of Manchester. A diversified structure, research beacon and collaborative agent of the city, the university provides a range of facilities for conferences, like the University Place, Manchester Meeting Place, the Core Technology Facility and Renold Building. As a century-old institution whose intent is to expand by 2021, it offers conference facilities that can cater for 10 to 1,000 delegates with stunning locations for dinners, receptions or other events for up to 500 guests.

Attracting conferences in a collabora- tive way and delivering a world class delegate welcome by also developing its own story: here is Manchester’s mission by 2025.


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Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.