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Sheffield: forging a new identity

The city is proud, creative, welcoming and authentic and offers event organisers a fusion of urban and outdoor options. 

The breath of fress air is literal: three years ago Sheffield rebranded itself as The Outdoor City, a recognition of its unique position as the only major UK city to have a national park within its boundary (a third of the city lies within the Peak District National Park known locally as Sheffield’s back garden). 

An outdoor DNA also runs through the city’s population. Sheffield boasts more than 10,000 climbers and spends 3.2 times more per head on outdoor equipment than anywhere else in the UK. 

Conference organisers can leverage this tradition for events and take advantage of the proximity of country beauty spots such as Chatsworth for gala dinners and receptions (14 miles from the city centre), either separately or in combination with a city centre venue or hotel.

Creating new conference specialisms 

Emma France, head of business visits and events at Marketing Sheffield, says the city is very much back in the meetings business

2017 was a big year for Sheffield. The value of conference business to the city had increased again and the 10th year of our ambassador programme saw us celebrating some fantastic ambassador-led events and recruiting the next generation. 

Increased success in the international market saw us join the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and proactively target events in our key sectors in partnership with our ambassadors.

Our role as a bureau is even more focused on attracting events that support, develop and cement our intellectual capital. 

We are a city with a reputation for internationally recognised research in both of our universities, and across our teaching hospitals and the development of new research centres is fast paced. 

Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre is set to become the world's most advanced R&D centre for physical activity. It is making ground-breaking research into health problems like obesity and dementia. 

The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre specialises in aerospace, automotive and healthcare and has partnerships with Boeing, McLaren Automotive and Rolls Royce - exciting catalysts for winning events.

It’s so interesting to work with experts across the city who lead the way in such a variety of areas-from child health technology to orthopaedics (it makes sense that the city that gave you steel also gives you joints!), healthcare technology, coeliac disease and gluten-related disorders… I could keep going. And we’re not just looking at attracting conferences. Some of our specialisms are so new we’re looking at creating events, too.

Six of the best

Sheffield City Hall: This Grade II listed building is a firm favourite for organisers. The venue seats 2,271 delegates and offers a variety of flexible event space in the heart of the city. 

FlyDSA Arena: Sheffield’s 12,500-seater Arena has hosted conferences and exhibitions on behalf of organisations such as HSBC and UCAS but is equally at home hosting major entertainment and sporting events.

University of Sheffield: The Diamond Building is still making its mark with its modern architecture and seven lecture theatres. This is supported by a portfolio of venues including the 1,250-seater Octagon Centre, a boutique hotel and fine dining at Firth Court.

Sheffield Hallam University: Central facilities for up to 446 delegates. The new STEM Atrium space is near the train station and connects to a large auditorium and hundreds of flexible meeting rooms.

The Cutlers Hall: A venue steeped in history and grandeur and home to the Master Cutler. Famous for gala dinners, the space is adaptable for conferences up to 500. The smaller rooms suit drinks receptions and private dining and showcase the history of Sheffield’s cutlery industry throughout the ages.

Magna: Formerly one of the world’s largest steelworks, the venue now offers 4,000sqm of flexible space. Elements of the original building are still preserved adding a special feel to this blank canvas.

Six quirky venues

Sheffield Winter Garden: The largest temperate glasshouse in a European city centre. Its 22m tall arches tower over a collection of 2,500 tropical plants and it is a dramatic venue for receptions.

The Mowbray: Opening in spring 2018, this new restoration in the fashionable Kelham Island District is a premium lifestyle venue that can host 200 seated and comes complete with a first floor roof garden and cocktail bar.

Adelphi Suite at The Crucible: Panoramic venues of the city centre include a smaller space for private dining or small meetings at the world famous Crucible. 

Yorkshire Wildlife Park: Take your conference into the wild! Whether it’s an informal evening summer barbecue or a gala dinner for 300, let the views of the African plains or the amazing polar bears enhance your conference programme. 

Sheffield Cathedral: Rapidly becoming a firm favourite for gala dinners and receptions, this historic landmark creates a real wow factor at the heart of the city. 

The Painted Hall at Chatsworth: Made for elegant champagne receptions, Chatsworth has a long tradition of inspirational entertaining and allows organisers to combine one of the UK’s leading Treasure Houses with their city conference. 

Boeing & McLaren speed Sheffield’s appeal

Two global brands from the worlds of aerospace and automotive are putting their faith in manufacturing an innovative future in Sheffield.

Boeing Sheffield will open a new multi-million-pound manufacturing facility alongside the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). The facility will enable the aircraft manufacturer to bring the key high-tech components and systems used in Boeing’s Next-Generation aircraft in-house.

Professor Keith Ridgway, executive dean of the AMRC said the Boeing announcement was “the culmination of a successful relationship that has developed since the AMRC with Boeing was founded 16 years ago.”

Professor Ridgway and local businessman Adrian Allen have, for years, worked with the aerospace giant to apply Sheffield’s traditional expertise to new materials, focusing on machining research.

In the past 16 years, the University of Sheffield’s AMRC has grown to include 90 industrial partners from sectors such as aerospace, medical, automotive and construction, and it has become a model for conducting collaborative research to develop new manufacturing techniques and technologies. The AMRC and its partners are now a central offer for the Sheffield City Region’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District.

The Boeing Sheffield announcement follows the new partnership between the University of Sheffield’s AMRC and McLaren Automotive. The AMRC is working with the supercar manufacturer to develop the advanced manufacturing processes that will allow McLaren Automotive to ramp up production of the chassis for its future cars at its new Composites Technology Centre, within the vicinity of the AMRC.

The investments will provide opportunities for the UK supply chain as Sheffield plays a crucial role in a new Industrial Revolution for the UK – one centred on science and innovation, but working hand-in-hand with industry. Meeting organisers can also tap into this Made in Sheffield hallmark of quality.

The McLaren centre can deliver £100m of gross value added benefit to the local economy by 2028. 

Doncaster on course for meetings

Another fast-growing hotspot for meetings and events in the wider region is Doncaster Racecourse where event spaces include one of the larges exhibition halls in Yorkshire (3,400sqm) and more than 40 private suites, able to accommodate from two to 3,000 people. 

A 154-guestroom Hilton Garden Inn is in the final stages of construction and the Garden Suite will have capacity for 500 people and offer panoramic views of the racecourse. 

Racecourse event sales manager Joanne Grainger says: “Doncaster is a real hub for innovation, entrepreneurship and investment within the Sheffield City Region. There is a real energy and enthusiasm among the business community here and, as such, coupled with the area’s outstanding road, rail and air links, the borough is becoming increasingly popular as a place  to meet and do business.”