We take you on a whirlwind tour of three northern cities that are ready to welcome events
Hull is still basking in its status as UK City of Culture 2017. After the collapse of the city’s fishing and shipbuilding industries – and being named ‘crappest town in the UK’ in a book published in 2003 – there’s a newfound optimism in Hull, where Siemens recently invested £160m in a wind-turbine facility.
And 2018 may be another landmark year: a state-of-the-art, £40m conference facility, opening towards the end of the year, will transform the city’s events sector, which is also being boosted by an extension to Hull New Theatre. Hull Truck Theatre and Hull Minster are also now doing events. Lastly, DoubleTree by Hilton, opening later this year, should help redress the dearth of premium accommodation.
TripAdvisor recently touted Sheffield as the cheapest place for a UK city break. It has much more to offer besides value for money, not least its Peak District National Park location. ‘Sheffield is one of the UK’s greenest cities,’ says Emma France of Marketing Sheffield. ‘That lends itself to team activities like kayaking, climbing, abseiling and mountain biking.
Investment from tech start-ups and manufacturing stalwarts such as Boeing and McLaren is helping to stimulate Sheffield’s economy, and new bars and restaurants are opening all the time. Elsewhere, defunct industrial structures have been reborn as quirky venue spaces such as The Chimney House and the award-winning Magna Science Adventure Centre, which occupies a former steel mill. By contrast, nearby Chatsworth House, a stately home set amid the rolling hills of the Peak District, will add a regal tone to any event.
You can’t accuse York of trading off past glories; the city lays claim to no fewer than 90 conference venues, which host more than 16,000 meetings annually. That’s dwarfed by larger cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, but they’re much bigger than York. This is a city with the benefits of a metropolis without the big-city drawbacks.
It’s also easy on the eye. And that includes its venues, from medieval meeting points such as Merchant Adventurers’ Hall to contemporary conference centre Central Hall. The city’s popularity as a tourist destination (there are reportedly more cultural attractions per square mile in York than any other UK city) ensures a good supply of hotels and helps feed its restaurant scene and nightlife. There are also myriad opportunities for outdoor activities in the surrounding countryside, where one of England’s largest privately owned estates – North Yorkshire’s Swinton Estate – has just opened an £8m Country Club & Spa.
Did you see our guides to Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle?