United Kingdom Expands Venues, Food Scene for Groups

Exhibition Centre Liverpool
Exhibition Centre Liverpool

The United Kingdom continues to push the meetings envelope with new attractions and meetings venues that match the historic ones groups have come to know and love. London, Liverpool, Belfast and Edinburgh continue to change the meetings landscape in Europe, and here’s a roundup of their latest group offerings.

In September, the Science Museum in London will introduce a new exhibition, Cosmonauts, Birth of the Space Age. The exhibit gives an in-depth look at the Russian space program, with the most significant collection of spacecraft and artifacts ever shown outside of Russia. The museum’s exhibitions can serve as a backdrop for events up to 1,500 attendees. The museum also has a 414-seat IMAX Theatre for groups hosting an awards ceremony or debuting a film.

“London will be the first city in the world to host this fascinating exhibition, which tells the story of Russian space exploration in more depth than ever before,” says Gordon Innes, chief executive of London & Partners. “The Science Museum has done an incredible job bringing this to the capital.”

The about $62 million Exhibition Centre Liverpool and $40.5 million hotel at Kings Dock in Liverpool will officially host their grand opening in September. The about 26,000-sf, three hall exhibition center and the 216-room headquarters hotel help form part of the ACC Liverpool, which also includes BT Convention Centre and Echo Arena. The new exhibition center is directly connected to the existing facilities via an interlinking bridge.

Similarly, the more than 13,000-sf expansion to the Belfast Waterfront Conference Exhibition Centre will debut in spring 2016. The addition will integrate with the existing facility, doubling its size to almost 23,000 sf and adding the latest technologies. With the addition debut, Belfast Waterfront Conference Center will allow Belfast to host bigger events such as medical conferences, according to Mark Taylor, consultant general and hepatobiliary surgeon for Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, which hosted an event in Belfast in 2011.

“The extension of the Belfast Waterfront will allow Belfast to be a front runner in attracting major medical conferences (with 1,000-plus delegates),” says Taylor. “I am particularly delighted that the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland conference (with 1,500 delegates) will be the first to benefit from this major expansion at the Waterfront in 2016.”

As conference venues continue to grow in Liverpool and Belfast, Edinburgh’s food scene has undergone a major transformation. Edinburgh has seen a surge in restaurant openings and pop-ups as well as a renewed interest in farmers markets and food festivals. Food tours are especially ideal for groups visiting Edinburgh. Eat Walk Edinburgh offers food tours that not only take groups to at least five food and drink tasting stops, but introduce attendees to local foodies to discuss the latest food trends in Scotland. Attendees won’t want to miss a taste of Haggis neeps and tatties, a traditional Scottish dish consisting of a savory meat pudding served with turnips and potatoes, on the Old and New Town Tour. The company also offers whisky and wine tastings as well as Scottish cooking classes for groups.