Manchester is currently regarded as second only to London as the UK's favorite and most exciting conference destination. With an impressive range of very large capacity exhibition, convention and event venues, top-quality affordable hotels, cosmopolitan restaurants, great shopping and a searing music and nightlife scene, Manchester is a convention city that has definitely "got it right".
Served by Manchester International Airport with direct daily flights to the United States and over 200 domestic and international destinations, it's no accident that all of the UK's major political parties now regularly bring their annual conferences to Manchester. World-class facilities are offered by the complex of conference and exhibition facilities named Manchester Central. Here, the city's former principal railway station now plays host to a huge range of national and international exhibitions, concerts and sporting events. Recent upgrades to this flagship venue included in this flagship venue the 800-seat Exchange Auditorium and the 1,900-square-meter Exchange Hall.
There are also over 5,000 high-quality yet inexpensive hotel beds in central Manchester and over 200 meeting and hospitality venues, many of which are located in historic buildings that reflect this city's great commercial heritage. For instance, the five-star Radisson Edwardian Hotel is built upon the site of the former Free Trade Hall, the Arora International Hotel is housed in a converted 19th century wool mill, and the stylish Malmaison Hotel was once a textile warehouse. Meanwhile, a range of exciting new hotels, such as the Crowne Plaza Manchester and the Light Apart Hotel, have burst onto the scene, providing an extensive range of luxury and budget accommodations with excellent meeting facilities. There's even a four-star rated YHA hostel in Manchester!
With one of the largest academic populations in Europe, Manchester's University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) bring creativity and energy to every corner of the city. Additionally, these institutes of higher learning serve as excellent university-based conference and meeting facilities. The University of Manchester itself has over 20 event venues alone, many of which are available year-round, as well as on-site, low-cost accommodations. Host panel sessions and presentations at University Place, which features a 1,000-seat auditorium, spacious seminar rooms and exhibition areas. MMU's Geoffrey Manton Building boasts seven tiered lecture theaters configured around an Atrium "hub", equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology and high-speed Internet access.
For events with a little more edge, delve into Manchester's music scene. From Halle Orchestra, Britain's longest-established symphony orchestra, to scores of internationally-famous rock bands such as the Bee Gees, Oasis, and Morrissey, Manchester and music go hand in hand. As such, the city is home to some truly massive music venues, led by the Manchester Evening News Arena, which is Europe's largest indoor arena at over 20,000 seats. Bridgewater Hall is an international concert venue for classical music, rock, pop, jazz and world music that seats nearly 2,400 guests. The Palace Theatre of Varieties, with its splendid Edwardian auditorium, also provides unique opportunities for large-scale corporate events and receptions.
Inward investment to Manchester is second only to London, and as such it enjoys the fastest growing economy in the UK. The most important business sectors include the financial and professional services, life sciences, creative, cultural and media, manufacturing and communications. This thriving city was also ranked in 2007 and 2008 as the second-best place to do business in the UK, and ranked in 2009 as the 16th best in Europe.