Looking for a unique venue to give your event the ‘wow’ factor? It’s time to think outside the box as H&E North takes a look at alternative event spaces.

Guests and clients alike have come to expect some degree of unpredictability and excitement when it comes to organising and attending an event – particularly those who do so on a regular basis. They want a venue which heightens their senses, broadens their mind and leaves them thinking it was better than the last.

The good news is, we’re not short of a unique venue or two in the north of the UK. These venues have cleverly used their quirky offerings as their unique (literally) selling points and reinvented their distinctive event spaces into something original, helping event professionals propel their events into an altogether different league.

St.George’s Park

Appearance Matters
While your chosen venue might not look like much from the outside, once you step inside, your guests are transported to another world. Not only does this build suspense from the outset, with guests wondering what awaits them, but they also experience that ultimate ‘wow’ factor as they lay their eyes on the spectacular setting.

Charlotte Davies, Events Manager at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, agrees: “A unique or unusual venue in itself can be a draw for delegates. It adds a sense of occasion and anticipation beforehand, while on the day, it provides the wow-factor and a memorable experience. Your choice of venue also speaks volumes about your brand and influences how it is perceived by customers.

“By choosing Wolverhampton Grand Theatre or a similar theatrical venue, you add a sense of grandeur and show business, literally putting your event centre stage and shining a spotlight on your business.”

Of course, there are plenty of venues which triumph from the exterior, such as the Library of Birmingham. Here, your guests get to enjoy a double dose of elation – both in and out of the venue. The library shares its building with Birmingham Repertory Theatre, which has joined forces under the umbrella of Unique Venues Birmingham to showcase the fantastic conferencing and hospitality opportunities available.

Not Your Average Day Out
Chances are, your guests may have already experienced many of the unique venues across the UK on a family day out, but not realised their potential as an event space. Despite being first and foremost known as visitor attractions, the likes of Yorkshire Wildlife Park, The Deep and MAGNA Science Adventure Centre, also have a big corporate event offering.

All based in Yorkshire, a company breakfast can be enjoyed alongside the penguins (yes, really!) at The Deep and teams can bond in the wild at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Meanwhile, at MAGNA, it has hosted a whole range of events including a glittering award dinner for 500, an indoor car launch, a beer festival and contains the world’s highest indoor bungee.

“MAGNA seamlessly blends industrial heritage with modern day event production to create a truly unique venue offering,” explains Kevin Tomlinson, Managing Director of MAGNA. “With 4,000 m² of dedicated event space in the heart of the UK, MAGNA possess all the key attributes that busy event managers expect of a conference centre, alongside a quirkiness and breath-taking edginess that is rare and special.”


Competitive Fun
If you want to be in with a sporting chance of pulling off your best event yet, then look no further than a sporting venue. It’s important to have a venue which is not only individual in its offering but motivates, inspires and celebrates. This is exactly what St. George’s Park in Staffordshire does.

A state-of-the-art facility and home to England’s 28 national football teams, it is a remarkable setting for exhibitions, large conference, events and launch programmes with venues including the Sports Hall within the prestigious National Football centre and the Sir Bobby Robson Ballroom. It is also home to the Outdoor Leadership Centre which develops high performing teams and leaders.

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to football, rugby and cricket grounds’ unique event spaces but for a sport of a different kind, you can head to Dallas Burston Polo Club just outside of Leamington Spa. It encompasses 600 acres of indoor and outdoor event space with six polo grounds, the largest all-weather SuperArena in Europe, the IXL Events Centre and additional hospitality venues.

“With unique facilities suitable for conferences, fun days and team building events, Dallas Burston Polo Club is also a major centre for equestrian eventing. It is developing as a dressage venue, offering a centre of excellence in the heart of England which offers national reach without forgetting local value,” says Andy Thomas, Marketing and PR Coordinator.

Another example is Stanwick Lakes, a 750-acre nature reserve in Northamptonshire’s Nene Valley, offering a wide variety of team days, from low impact fun, to challenges with an experienced trainer. Customers looking for a unique away day ‘out in nature’ range from large corporates to small local enterprises participating in den building, assault courses or team treasure hunts to bond the team together.

Bespoke Support
Finally, it’s worth remembering that there are companies out there who specialise in sourcing unique venues – such is the demand for an alternative and bespoke setting. Take Unique Venues of Manchester, for example. It brings the best in unusual venues to their website for a quick and simple search function and also runs the annual #UVMEXPO – the unique venues of Manchester exhibition which took place recently.

As is the case in many cities across the north, Manchester is a city packed with venues for all occasions and plenty of rare finds. From the industrial Victoria Warehouse to the renowned Chill Factore, it’s a venue heaven for event planners.

Main photo: Dallas Burston Polo Club