The most northeastern island off the tip of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton has a mixture of Scottish, French, Basque, Portuguese, Mikmaq Native American, Irish, and, perhaps, Viking, culture and history. Measuring some 4,000 square miles, it is joined to the mainland part of Nova Scotia by the 4,500-foot-long Canso Causeway, a road on a manmade strip of land finished in 1955. Cape Breton MICE venues can be found within a delightful mix of township and farmland; and wilderness, which includes the Cape Breton Highlands (an extension of the Appalachian Mountains). Its main two industries are coal and tourism, most notably its many Celtic music festivals and hiking, scenery, and attractions along its 185-mile Cabot Trail.
The island's principal airport is the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport (YQY), which is eight miles east of Cape Breton's largest city, Sydney. Service is domestic only, to Halifax and Toronto.
Close to Sydney is also where the island's largest meeting site is, in the town of Membertou, the Membertou Trade & Convention Centre has 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including Kluskap, or the Great Hall, which can host up to 850 persons, and several meeting rooms.
Connected to Membertou Trade & Convention Centre is the 128-room Hampton Inn by Hilton Sydney, which has 1,500 square feet of its own meetings and events space for up to 50 persons. Other Cape Breton MICE hotels include the 152-room Holiday Inn Sydney Waterfront, which has meeting space for up to 150 persons and a ballroom for 400; the 144-suite Cambridge Suites Hotel Sydney, which has three meetings and events space, the largest able to host 80 persons; the 101-room North Star Inn, which has six meeting rooms and a ballroom for up to 225 persons; and, in Port Hawkesbury (right where the artificial bridge joins Cape Breton to the mainland, on the opposite side of the island from Sydney), the 73-room Maritime Inn Port Hawkesbury, which has four meeting rooms for up to 125 persons.
The creator of the telephone, Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell, spent the greater part of his life working and living on Cape Breton; his house there now is a National Historic Site. Wonderful, unique Cape Breton MICE venues include three in Sydney: Centre 200, a conference, sports and entertainment space with 17,000 square feet of exhibition space and room for groups of 650 persons and banquets of 400; spectacular Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion, which has a waterfront setting and Pittman Hall for events of up to 1,200 persons, among other spaces; and the facilities of Cape Breton University, which include a lecture hall for 200 persons and a theater for 350 and which is far more versatile for groups between May and September when the students are somewhere else. Two other MICE venues on Cape Breton are the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, which has an arena with 1,000 fixed seats and room for another 1,000 of its central floor also is used and space for banquets of up to 700 persons, and, in Glenville, the Glenora Inn & Distillery, which produces Glen Breton, a single malt whisky, has a delightful setting alongside a river, looking not unlike it has been plucked out of the Scottish Highlands (despite being here for only a quarter of a century), offers nine inn rooms and six log cabins and contains a dining room for 50 persons, a pub, two tasting rooms and the Whisky Warehouse for meetings of 100 and banquets for 80.
Restaurants able to host groups on Cape Breton include Baddeck Lobster Suppers, the name of which pretty much tells you where it is and what you want to know, is about as close as you can get to where lobsters are from and on the Cabot Trail, has a delightful setting and is open between June and September for lazy group events in the long summer nights; Bras d'Or Lakes Inn, which sits on a thin neck of land to the south of the island and has a lakeside setting, a menu with Canadian and French flavors, can accommodate meetings of up to 150 persons and has 19 guest rooms; Embers Southern Barbeque, in Sydney, for no-fuss barbecue; Coastal Restaurant & Pub, also on the Cabot Trail, in the village of Ingonish, serving burgers and seafood and with a 70-seat dining room and an outdoor deck for 24, and, in Mabou, the small, seasonal but delightful Red Shoe Pub, which is a fixture on the island's music scene and has more than just a pub menu in terms of cuisine.