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Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Birmingham - a city guide for meeting professionals. A true meeting destination and so much more, Birmingham boasts an unforgettable balance of modern, exciting amenities and attractions set within a verdant setting. As the state's largest city, Birmingham's unique mix of Southern charm and character, paired with its reputation as the cultural center of Alabama, makes this city one of the finest meeting locales in the southern United States. Birmingham's popularity stems from its true Southern soul, made apparent in every lush park, hospitable restaurant, and intriguing museum, as well as its friendly population. What's more, Birmingham offers meeting travelers true convenience and lots to do outside of business or conference hours.
The city's Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, located less than five miles from the downtown region, serves Birmingham and the surrounding area. For added convenience, meeting travelers can hop on public bus service that runs throughout a 200-square-mile area courtesy of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA). BJCTA also operates downtown Dart Circulator service aboard a fleet of vintage trolleys, providing direct service to many of Birmingham's attractions and points of interest, including the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC), which lies along the Dart Circulator Blue Line.
Lending to Birmingham's reputation as a world-class meeting locale, the city's impressive, cutting-edge BJCC is a sprawling venue located in the downtown district. Set within a short distance of a variety of restaurants and entertainment options, the BJCC is also only 10 minutes from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. The BJCC offers such spaces as a 220,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall, 19,000-seat Arena, 3,000-seat Concert Hall and 1,071-seat Theater, in addition to 72 meeting rooms totaling 100,000 square feet of space – not to mention the 10-story Medical Forum facility equipped with cutting-edge technology and meeting spaces. What's more, the BJCC also features the on-site 770-room Sheraton Birmingham Hotel.
Birmingham offers many downtown attractions and cultural sites, many of which double as fantastic meeting venues. Get back to nature at the Vulcan Park and Museum, a 10-acre park atop Red Mountain, offering spectacular views of downtown Birmingham. The park is home to the 56-foot-tall statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge that has acted as a Birmingham icon since 1904. The Vulcan Center Museum features the private Electra Event Room with space for up to 200 guests, while the City Overlook outdoor patio can accommodate 250 guests. The largest museum of its kind in the states, the Birmingham Museum of Art is known for its impressive collections (including the largest collection of Wedgwood outside of England), as well as such event spaces as a multilevel sculpture garden and the elegant 8th Avenue Lobby, which features a stunning glass piece by Dale Chihuly, made specifically for the museum.
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, home to more than 1,200 vintage and modern motorcycles, invites groups of up to 900 to slow down and enjoy its private event spaces. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute chronicles the civil rights journey through a series of moving exhibitions, as well as houses a number of impressive event spaces, including its stately Rotunda. Finally, the interactive, sleek McWane Science Center is home to four floors of hands-on science exhibits geared towards all ages, as well as private event spaces for daytime and nighttime events.
Birmingham is the state's largest city. Nestled in Jones Valley, the 152-square-mile city is one of the southernmost cities on the Appalachian Chain, flanked by long parallel mountain ranges, rolling valleys, and ambling streams. Birmingham is within close proximity of many major Southern cities, located just 70 miles outside of Huntsville, 92 miles from Montgomery, 150 miles from Atlanta and 200 miles from Mobile. The city's proximity to such major cities, along with its multitude of cultural activities and sites, doesn't hurt, either.
Birmingham's history begins with its 1871 founding at the crossing of two railroad lines. Flourishing in the early 1900s, the city became the South's foremost industrial center, generating massive amounts of iron and steel, thanks to its nearby deposits of iron ore, coal and limestone, the principal raw materials used in steel production. Its astonishing 20th-century growth earned Birmingham the nicknames "Magic City" and "Pittsburgh of the South." The city is also known for its key role in the American civil rights movement, as it was the locale of several anti-segregation protests that eventually led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Today's Birmingham is dedicated to remembering and honoring its role in the civil rights movement in such arenas as the renowned Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
The city's downtown district is known for its world-class dining and accommodations and Birmingham's best nightlife is clustered around the Five Points South and Lakeview districts, while the picturesque Red Mountain area, just south of downtown, is home to rolling hills, awe-inspiring views and multi-million dollar residences. If shopping is your bag, Birmingham is the place to be. Not only is Birmingham home to one of the largest malls in the nation, but it also features a wealth of art galleries, factory outlets, specialty shops, upscale boutiques, and antique stores, all spread out throughout quaint village roads to downtown city streets.
Experiencing all there is to do in Birmingham is sure to rouse an appetite. Luckily, Birmingham's diverse restaurant scene (home to James Beard Foundation winners and nominees) offers something for everyone, as well as opportunities for group dining and events. You'll find French-inspired Southern cuisine at the sophisticated Highlands Bar and Grill, as well as modern Southern, French and California styles at the wildly popular Hot and Hot Fish Club. Bottega Restaurant and Cafe offers both upscale and casual Italian dining options (as well as a striking atmosphere), while GianMarco's pairs its Northern Italian fare with a chef-driven wine list. Al fresco dining is one of the standout options at Galley & Garden, a sleek spot that serves modern American- and French-inspired cuisine with Southern influences.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Birmingham experiences a humid subtropical climate, marked by hot summers, mild winters and abundant year-round rainfall. The city's average year-round temperature is a comfortable 62°F, while its annual rainfall averages 62 inches and annual snowfall averages 2 inches. Birmingham's coldest month is January, with an average low of 33°F and average high of 52°F, while its warmest month is July, with an average low of 70°F and an average high of 91°F. Rainfall is pretty evenly spread out throughout the year, with March as its rainiest month, with an average of 6.5 inches of rain. The most popular time to visit Birmingham is in the early spring, which brings low humidity and pleasant temperatures.
Bessemer Civic Center
Sheraton Birmingham Hotel
The world-class Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) is located in the heart of downtown Birmingham and 10 minutes from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, making the complex easily accessible. Boasting sleek, modern design, the BJCC offers 220,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 19,000-seat arena, 3,000-seat concert hall and 1,000-seat theater, as well as 74 meeting rooms that together offer 100,000 square feet of space and can accommodate 60 to 1,950 people. The 220,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall features two kitchens and the elevated North Exhibition hall lounge, which overlooks the main floor and features a wet bar, seating area and open reception area. The BJCC is connected to the 770-room Sheraton Birmingham Hotel and offers such amenities as two full-service restaurants, in-house catering, audio-visual services and a self-service, 24-hour business center.
The BJCC is also home to the Medical Forum, a 10-story facility that offers 364,000 square feet of classrooms, meeting space, conference areas, and commercial office suites. The Medical Forum is equipped with cutting-edge fiber-optic signals and satellites, as well as wireless response pads, translation services, a 24-workstation demonstration laboratory, and a telecommunications and teleconferencing center.
Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM)
Distance: 5 milesApproximate taxi fare: $16 USD
The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport sits less than five miles east of downtown Birmingham. The airport serves approximately three million passengers per year, as they travel on more than 100 daily flights to over 25 cities throughout the U.S. As Alabama's largest airport, Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport welcomes its passengers will full-service restaurants, gift shops, newsstands and an upper-level food court, as well as terminal-wide free Wi-Fi. Hourly, daily and economy parking is available.
The MAX bus system offers fixed route and demand response service throughout a 200-square-mile area, which includes Birmingham. Single-ride passes are $1.25, two-hour passes are $1.50 and all-day passes are $3.
Birmingham's Dart Circulator is a fleet of vintage trolleys serving the downtown and Southside areas via three interchangeable routes. Fare is $0.50 per ride. The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex lies along the Dart Circulator Blue Line.
The Birmingham Amtrak station at 1 19th Street North serves the Crescent route, which runs daily service between New Orleans and New York, with major stops in Birmingham, Atlanta, Greensboro, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.
The Birmingham Greyhound station is located downtown at 618 North 19th Street.
Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport houses rental car counters for Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty in its Rental Car Facility in the parking deck.
Visitors getting to Birmingham via the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport should expect to pay about $15 in taxi fare from the airport to downtown.
Photo Credit: Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau
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