Welcome to Cvent's Raleigh meeting planning guide - a Raleigh city guide for meeting planners. Raleigh's mild, temperate climate and hospitality, combined with an ambitious, $3-billion transformation of its downtown area, has secured its position as a prime destination for business, technology and tourism as well as a favorite meeting location any time of the year.
Excitement abounds in Raleigh as the face of its downtown changes with multiple public art projects, the expansion of the North Carolina Museum of Art and the building of several new structures that include the new Contemporary Art Museum (opened April 2011) and City Plaza, an outdoor gathering place that is just outside the hotel lobbies of downtown. The 5,500-seat Raleigh Amphitheater, completed in June of 2010, puts a large, open-air festival site right within downtown Raleigh’s convention campus.
One of the crowning achievements of Raleigh's renaissance is the LEED-certified Raleigh Convention Center, a catalyst for development in the area. The convention center, which opened in September 2008, is conveniently located in the heart of downtown, placing convention guests within a few blocks of more than 1,000 hotel rooms, including the new 400-room Raleigh Marriott City Center located next door that joins the adjacent 353-room Sheraton Raleigh Hotel. (Other luxurious hotels in the area bring the city's accommodations total to nearly 14,000 rooms.) The 500,000-square-foot facility features 150,000 square feet of exhibit space, 20 meeting rooms totaling more than 32,000 square feet, and a stately 32,000-square-foot grand ballroom with an adjacent reception area. Every space, large and small, is equipped with the latest communications and production technology.
The Cree Shimmer Wall is a 9,284-square-foot piece of art adorning the side of the Raleigh Convention Center. The piece looks high-tech, but it's not: This spectacular piece is made up of 79,464 light and dark aluminum squares that change shape and disappear as the squares flap in the wind. The wall depicts an image of an oak tree and has become a symbol for Raleigh, the City of Oaks. It is backlit at night by 56 light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, fixtures that can be programmed to flash and display more than a million different colors.
Raleigh offers several outstanding attractions that are also open to hosting meetings and events. The North Carolina Museum of Art is one such facility and its newest feature is the West Building, a 127,000-square-foot building with day-lit galleries and exquisite outdoor sculpture gardens. Up to 1,500 guests can enjoy an event at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, including event space within its exhibits such as the Coastal Carolina and Mountains to the Sea exhibits. In April 2012, the Nature Research Center (NRC) at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences debuted an 80,000-square-foot wing that brings research scientists and their work into the public eye. The centerpiece of the NRC is the SECU Daily Planet, an immersive, three-story multimedia space that links virtual to real nature and is the site of live programming on breaking science news. Inside the NRC is the William G. Ross, Jr. Environmental Conference Center, which can accommodate up to 225 people.
To celebrate Raleigh's rich past and enjoy its inviting outdoors, the Mordecai Historic Park, where guests can find the birthplace of Andrew Johnson and the oldest residence in Raleigh on its original foundation, offers several sites available for private events. For dinners and cocktail receptions, Caffe Luna offers elegant rooms for private dining complete with hardwood floors and graceful archways, as well as a candlelit terrace.
With the opening of the Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University in spring of 2009, downtown area meeting attendees have a new option for after-session breaks. The 6,915-yard, par 71 course is an Arnold Palmer Signature Course and brings Greater Raleigh’s public and semi-private golf course tally to 18.