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Be the Difference

By June 12, 2017Features

Stand out from the crowd and choose a setting that will really get your guests or clients talking. H&E North delves into the exciting world of unique and alternative venues…

The unique and unusual venue market is now widely considered by event professionals as a mature and established part of the vibrant UK venue scene within the wider events industry, according to the first ever market report of its kind launched recently.

Unique & Unusual: A Market Overview was produced in partnership with Tony Rogers, events industry research expert and joint creator of the UK Conference & Meetings Survey. It also shows the steady growth of the sector, as well as its continued support of creative event professionals. A major contributor to the report was Nick de Bois, Chairman of the Events Industry Board, who said: “How lucky we are in Britain to have seen the opportunity so early to turn wonderful attractions, stadia and cultural experiences into hosts for our events. Every day and evening wonderful buildings are transformed and brought to life in a new and exciting way by creative event organisers. From weddings, to conferences, live experiences and exhibitions, to brand activations.” He then went on to say: “I’m therefore delighted that this report gives it a little more credit, time and respect and allows us the chance to remind ourselves just how lucky we are to have these venues within our reach.”

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Whether you are an event planner or an attendee, choosing the right location for an event can evoke a priceless sense of anticipation for an event. Selecting a venue with a story, an alternative use or interesting features can incite your potential attendees to be excited not just about the content of the event but also give them the opportunity to explore and engage in an unforgettable setting.

Immerse in the Theme
Themed events or ‘immersive’ events have really taken off in the last few years. It is no longer enough to simply decorate the table with confetti and party poppers, many guests may now expect to enter another world when arriving at a Christmas bash, awards ceremony or gala dinner. Venues like Victoria Warehouse, which is under the remit of Unique Venues of Manchester, a body dedicated to promoting alternative, unusual and unique venues in Greater Manchester, excels as a blank canvas to produce events that can transform a venue from top to bottom.

Liverpool’s maritime history comes alive at the Titanic Hotel and Rum Warehouse, combining echoes of a bygone era with contemporary luxury. On a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is located in the stunning Grade II listed North Warehouse of the 19th century Stanley Dock which once stored rum and tobacco imported from around the globe. The buildings have been sympathetically restored to take full advantage of the original warehouse dimensions, brick and ironwork and beautiful dock views. Versatile conference, exhibition and banqueting facilities cater for everything from large-scale exhibitions to weddings and intimate lunch meetings. It has welcomed events including retail and corporate conferences, launches, sporting events, charity and awards dinners. Further plans to expand this autumn will transform an adjoining part of the mammoth warehouse into a unique event space called The West Bay.

Titanic-Liverpool- Colonnades
Break a Leg
Theatres are a fantastic way to add an extra element of glitz and glamour to proceedings, and as they often range from majestic Victorian music halls to contemporary auditorium spaces, a theatre’s in-built atmosphere and grandeur make them an exciting option to consider. Venue Cymru in the coastal town of Llandudno in North Wales was built in 1992 and the auditorium, arena and hall are all available to hire. The design was heavily influenced by the Welsh National Opera, whose large scale productions are still performed there twice a year.

Let’s Go Outside
Locales famed for its natural beauty are a no-brainer when it comes to an alternative venue for your next event. We might not always be blessed with the weather, but we certainly are blessed with ample choice when it comes to choosing outdoor spots for celebrations or away days. Whether you venture up to the wild Scottish Highlands or discover the untamed beauty of the Peak District, in any direction, there’s something for everyone. And it doesn’t get more unique than a floating conference venue! Brockholes is a nature reserve owned and managed by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester & North Merseyside. The conference centre floats on the lake, within a cluster of eco-buildings, nestled among the reeds, making it a one-of-a-kind spot to truly wow your delegates.

Just over the Welsh border is another venue that has been making waves in the unique venue sector. The adventure holiday site Surf Snowdonia is the world’s first inland surf lagoon. From meetings to corporate functions or team building adventures, Surf Snowdonia is another example of how event planners can think outside the box when it comes to choosing a venue.

surfin view
Educating Events
Academic venues are an ever-popular choice too. With fully-equipped spaces suitable for teaching students as well as informing conference guests and delegates, universities across the country are enticing events planners to go back to school when creating their next event. Imago Venues, which started out life as the conferencing branch of Loughborough University, has now become a leading bureau in its own right with campus buildings and dedicated conference centres in the Midlands on its books. As marketing manager, Rob Chamberlain explained: “The new branding shows a much clearer connectivity between our individual venues; a sense of being part of the bigger Imago Venues picture. After all, that holistic service and flexibility in our offering is what makes us unique.”

imago home
For delegates in the North West, the University of Manchester offers the ultimate combination of high-end amenities, a broad choice of venue options, and a vibrant city location. With refurbished venues, plus free Wi-Fi, audio-visual facilities for high quality presentations supported by in-house audio-visual and IT teams. The university’s dedicated events team is available to provide support with the organisation and finer details to ensure an outstanding event. The facilities include large conference venues for up to 1,000 delegates and stunning locations for dinners, receptions or other events for up to 500 guests.

To read the Unique and Unusual Venue Report in full, visit