Scotland's great and historic capital city provides the ideal setting for an unforgettable convention experience. In fact, the city has earned a stellar reputation for its year-round program of international festivals and cultural events that attract three million visitors each year. Among them, the Edinburgh Festival, which takes place every year throughout August, is a carnival of many festivals including the Fringe Festival, the International Book Festival, the Military Tattoo and the International Jazz Festival. Additionally, a science festival is held in April, a film festival in June and, of course, the world-famous Edinburgh Hogmanay New Year's Eve Festival.
In 2004, Edinburgh received an immense boost when it became the home of the Scottish Parliament, consolidating its position as an important political, commercial and media center. This key move also brought about the construction of a wave of stylish hotels and an unrivalled choice of high-quality restaurants, bars and meeting places. Its growing collection of accommodations includes five-star properties such as the Rocco Forte Collection's Balmoral, the Caledonian Hilton, the Scotsman and the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa. Together with nearly 30 four-star hotels, Edinburgh's hotel inventory can accommodate up to 5,000 delegates.
In addition to well-appointed guest rooms, all of the five-star hotels and a wide range of mid-size establishments provide excellent meeting facilities. A boutique hotel voted one of the world's coolest hotels by Condé Nast, The Glasshouse offers five meeting facilities for events, the largest of which can accommodate up to 80 reception guests. Meanwhile, the George Hotel offers award-winning meeting space among eight individual conference and event suites, such as the 270-seat Kings Hall. For a more intimate meeting hotel venue, small family-run hotels and guest houses such as Ellersly House Hotel and Salisbury Green are dotted across the city.
Traditional meeting space in Edinburgh is headed up by the centrally-located Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). The EICC provides state-of-the-art facilities and technology for conventions and meetings of 300 to 2,000 delegates, thanks to 1,185 square meters of exhibition space and banqueting areas for 850 guests. A prestigious event locale, the EICC has welcomed VIP guests such as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela.
Edinburgh also offers a stunning range of unusual meeting places and business venues. Groups can dine under the splendid domed ceiling of Merchants' Hall, dance aboard the magnificent Royal Yacht Britannia, or drink in the subterranean Speakeasy at the Cabaret Voltaire. For a truly unforgettable experience, book a venue at Edinburgh Castle. The Queen Anne Building, located in the heart of the castle in Crown Square, is perfect for receptions of up to 185 people. The castle’s Jacobite Room provides a more intimate setting and great views over Princes Street for a banquet of 100 guests.
No matter the venue of choice, meeting guests will have no trouble with transportation. The fast and affordable Lothian Buses operate throughout the region, while taxis in Edinburgh are generally large and comfortable for traveling groups. Getting to the city itself is just as easy. A short taxi or bus ride from the city center, Edinburgh Airport is served by regular direct flights from many UK and European cities, including up to 20 flights a day from London's airports. Additionally, the high-speed intercity rail network reaches London in just over five hours.
Edinburgh today is a wonderful royal city, a thriving merchants' center and a global financial and business hub. In fact, it has the strongest economy of any city in the UK outside of London. Financial services are a key economic sector, and the city is home to the Bank of Scotland and firms such as Standard Life. Edinburgh is also a world-class center for education, learning and research, earning it the nickname "Athens of the North." The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Heriot-Watt University are all located in the city.
Located in the southeast of Scotland, Edinburgh is the capital and 2nd largest city in Scotland, home to over 450,000 residents. With settlements dating back to the Iron and Bronze Ages, it was not until the 10th century that the Scots began to transform the region into a flourishing small town. Over the centuries, Edinburgh was fought over by the Scottish and the English, finally joining the English politically in 1707 under the Act of Union.
Guests still discover that Edinburgh is, in fact, two cities. A deep geological fissure divides the Old Town to the south from the New Town to the north. The historic Old Town contains many ancient sites such as the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, where guests can find everything from the Scottish Crown Jewels to the profoundly moving Scottish National War Memorial. Also nearby is the National Museum of Scotland. Here, exhibits showcase old and new treasures from Scotland's history, including Viking brooches and the Formula One Car of sporting legend Sir Jackie Stewart.
Edinburgh's New Town, meanwhile, is a stylish and elegant Georgian city containing many beautiful buildings, parks and formal gardens. In fact, New Town is often considered to be one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture and planning in the world. Among New Town's notable attractions are: Bute House, the official residence of the first Minister of Scotland; the National Galleries of Scotland; and several new hotels and fine restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Number One at the five-star Dalmoral Hotel.
Also in New Town, Princes Street is the city's famous shopping mecca. Shoppers can find several dozens of up-market shops and smaller outlets that provide a wonderful range of gifts and souvenirs. Fine Scottish jewelry, kilts and woolens and an unfathomable range of unique Scottish whiskeys are all up for grabs.
More shopping is also to be found at Leith's Ocean Terminal, located just two miles north of the city center. In addition to being one of Europe's largest waterfront shopping and leisure centers, Ocean Terminal is also home to the grand Royal Yacht Britannia. Used by the Queen and the Royal Family for state occasions and private holidays, this five-star attraction is open to guests looking to catch a glimpse into the luxurious life of the Royals, not to mention stunning waterfront views of the city.
If not from the decks of a grand yacht, guests can also enjoy the great outdoors in Edinburgh by hitting the links. Scotland is famous as the birthplace of the game of golf, and the Edinburgh and Lothians region features nearly 50 courses. Visit world-famous Muirfield, home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, or Gullane Golf Club, where uphill climbs and downhill challenges make for a memorable experience.
When the sun sets over the green, Edinburgh continues to shine. Nightlife options range from an award-winning musical at The Edinburgh Playhouse to a night of laughs at the Stand Comedy Club. Edinburgh's Festival Theatre, recently described by The New York Times as the finest theater in Europe, is the place to catch performances by the Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet. Or, leave things up to fate by spending the night exploring the Royal Mile, home to shops, restaurants and numerous pubs and clubs such as Monteiths and the Royal McGregor.
Enjoying dinner out in Edinburgh is also special pleasure. Guests are met with Scottish high cuisine – the finest salmon, game and lamb in the world, and even a haggis with "neeps and tatties," or turnips and potatoes – in traditional Scottish eateries such as The Dome and The Witchery by the Castle. Alternatively, visitors can enjoy food from across the world in the many unique bistros that line the city streets. Why not try some tapas at Café Andaluz or fine French food at La Garrigue? No matter how far guests stray from its traditional cuisine, they'll still enjoy the experience of Edinburgh's authentic hospitality, summed up by its Gaelic greeting, "a ceud mìle fàite" – a hundred thousand welcomes.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Edinburgh has a mild climate despite its northern latitude. Winters are mild, with daytime temperatures rarely falling below freezing .Summer temperatures are also moderate. Edinburgh's hilly, coastal location does make it prone to warm, unstable air from the Gulf Stream, which can create rainfall that is spread fairly evenly throughout the year.
Perhaps one of the best times to visit is during spring when parks are alive with color and the weather is pleasantly warm.
Edinburgh International Conference Centre
Built by Edinburgh City Council, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) transformed the city into a truly world-class destination for conferences, conventions, exhibitions and events when it opened in 1995. This purpose-built and architecturally stunning building is situated in New Town, close to Waverley Railway Station and to many of the city's finest luxury and traditional hotels, restaurants, bars and pubs. It provides meeting planners with the very latest facilities, services and technology and, although owned by the council, it operates as an independent commercial business.
Six flexible spaces spread across four floors can accommodate a wide range of events for up to 2,000 attendees. The main auditorium seats 1,200 people in tiered theater style, while plenty of adjacent breakout areas, classrooms, meeting rooms and hospitality suites are on hand to host corporate functions, intimate meetings, lectures and more. Among them, the Galloway Suite has three large, flexible-use floor spaces, while the Lomond Suite is a large hall that can hold 600 delegates.
Concerned with the environment, the EICC has developed its own Plan-It Green™ sustainable events program. The facility's "green team" is available to work with meeting planners to develop eco-friendly conventions and events.
Already, over 800,000 delegates, with 150,000 arriving from overseas, have enjoyed over 2,100 events within this splendid facility. It has generated an estimated £245 million in income for the city.
Edinburgh Conference Centre
Set in a beautiful parkland campus, the Edinburgh Conference Centre provides dedicated conference space for up to 600 guests as well as accommodations for 165 guests during the school year and 960 guests during vacation time. Its varied venue options offer flexibility for everything from corporate board meetings to large presentations.
The James Watt Centre is divisible into two spaces: one at 506 square meters and one at 682 square meters, capable of hosting anywhere from 100 to 600 guests. Smaller meeting rooms offer capacities of 10 to 30 guests, while four lecture halls offer space for events ranging in size from 60 to 300 people.
A dedicated conference support team at the Edinburgh Conference Centre provides meeting planners with a high level of personal care, backed up by language interpretation, media and audio-visual services. Catering is available for dinners, drinks and buffets at the James Watt Centre, College Lounge and Scholars Restaurant. Located on the edge of the city just 10 minutes from Edinburgh International Airport, the conference facility has over 1,000 parking spaces.
Edinburgh Corn Exchange
Once a building where farmers and merchants traded cereals and grains, today's Edinburgh Corn Exchange is a large capacity venue of genuine character, quality and flexibility. It's also a convenient one, being close to the city center and airport and offering on-site complimentary car parking.
The Corn Exchange offers banquet-style seating for up to 1,000 guests, conference facilities for 1,500 delegates and a host of exhibition and smaller event spaces. It is also a world-class music venue, capable of staging concerts for audiences of 3,000 people. The Corn Exchange is equipped throughout with state-of-the-art sound and light systems that can transform its spaces at the touch of a button, creating many different atmospheres and environmental conditions.
Edinburgh Airport (EDI)
Approximate taxi fare: 17 GBP
Scotland's principal airport serves more than 100 international destinations, including direct flights to key North American hubs such as New York, Atlanta and Toronto. With two runways, it handles more than 40 airlines and nine million passengers each year and is set to grow in scale and importance.
Edinburgh Airport offers plenty of things for passengers to do while waiting for their flights. Immersing travelers in Scotland culture, the airport features duty free shopping of some of Scotland's best-loved brands and an array of restaurants and pubs serving up national dishes. Adding to the passenger experience are efficient and fast baggage handling and security measures.
Located just eight miles from the city center, Edinburgh Airport is served by the Airlink 100 express bus service, which departs every 10 minutes and connects airport travelers to downtown Waverley Station. Single fare is £3.50. The airport is also served by an efficient taxi service managed by Onward Travel.
From Edinburgh's Waverley Station, travelers can connect to the rest of Scotland and the British Isles via high-speed train services. First ScotRail connects Edinburgh to Glasgow and to stations throughout Scotland. The rest of the United Kingdom can be reached via First TransPennine Express, National Express East Coast, CrossCountry and Virgin Trains.
Lothian Buses is the largest operator in the region, serving both Edinburgh and parts of East Lothian and Midlothian. It also operates an airport service and night bus network.
Single tickets are £1.20 for adults. Day tickets, good for unlimited travel for one day, are £3.
Many passengers also opt for the "Bus One-Ticket," offered by the South East Scotland Transportation Consortium and the operators working within its network. Good for unlimited travel, tickets are sold as one-day, seven-day, 28-day and annual packages. A seven-day one-ticket is £20.20.
Taxis in Edinburgh are large and comfortable, seating up to five adults. Available taxis, designated by a lit central light (usually orange), can be flagged down from the street. Taxis are also very secure, as drivers have to be registered with identification clearly displayed. The black cab drivers are friendly, knowledgeable and extremely proud and protective of their city, so visitors should feel free to ask them questions. It's customary to give a tip of around 10 percent for an enjoyable journey.
Taxis are located at Edinburgh Airport at the taxi rank outside the terminal building. Taxi fare from the airport to the city center is about £15.
Alamo, Europcar, National, Avis, Budget, Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty rental car agencies all service Edinburgh Airport. As part of an ongoing investment program at the airport, a new, sustainable rental car building with direct access to the terminal is in the works.
Several additional rental car agencies, including Car Rental Scotland and Easycar, are located throughout the city.
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