As the home of the European Commission, the European Parliament and NATO, Brussels is the designated conference destination. Conferences that have a link with European topics are an important economic spearhead for the city. Each year, thousands of meetings and almost 500 conferences take place in this metropolis, and everything is done to ensure the conference visitors have a pleasant stay. Of course, the big draw of Brussels is its central location. But its many great and unusual venues, such as Art Nouveau palaces, alluring hotels and state-of-the- art conference centres all play their part too.
In Brussels, business and buzzing city life can be perfectly combined. Examples here include a comic strip wall, a culinary TramExperience with star chefs, dining in the Atomium or in a guildhall dating back centuries… International organisations, embassies, multi-national companies and international associations will find more than enough MICE opportunities in Brussels for any budget.
Right in the centre of Brussels, a 10-minute train journey from Brussels airport and two minute walk from Brussels Central Station, is the modern Square Conference Centre. The auditorium can accommodate 1,200 people, the capacity for receptions is 3,000 people and the capacity for banquets is 1,600 people. Murals by Paul Delvaux en René Magritte are part of the modern decor.
The Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a ten-minute walk away, as is the chic Zavelbuurt and important museums. This location is also special because 6000 hotel rooms can be found less than a ten-minute walk away.
A new addition to Brussels, completed at the end of 2015, is the Brussels Environment Conference Centre, built on the historical Tour & Taxis site. Measuring 16,750 square metres, this is the largest passive office building in Belgium and one of the biggest in Europe. The auditorium seats 450 people and there are various spacious meeting rooms and banquet options.
Liège and Namur
The city of Liège is the economic capital of Wallonia. Thanks to the combination of an inland port (the third largest in Europe), a TGV station and an airport, this city on the Meuse attracts a lot of economic activity in the field of transport and logistics. For conferences, Liège has an array of venues and hotels, such as the 5-star Crown Plaza Liège with 124 rooms and a meeting capacity of 300 people.
The elegant Namur, also located on the Meuse, is Wallonia’s official capital. Namur has an economic network that’s primarily driven by SMEs. The Palais des Congrès is in the heart of the historical city centre and offers space for 300 guests. There are many unique green meeting and team building locations in the area, such as the Castel de Pont-à- Lesse and Dinant Evasion, including its own quarry.
Between Liège and Namur is a special new sustainable meeting location: Naxhelet Espace. 33 hotel rooms have been built in the old farmhouse, with two suites in the chapel as well. In the grounds there are also meeting rooms (for 200 people), an 18-hole golf course and a wellness centre. Fresh, local produce is served up in the restaurant.
Mons and Charleroi
The province of Henegouwen has two large cities within its borders, Mons and Charleroi. In 2015, Mons was the European Capital of Culture. This is hardly surprising when you consider the wide array of cultural gems the city offers: Maison van Gogh, the Museum of Modern Art (MAC’s), the industrial complex Le Grand Hornu and a variety of UNESCO monuments.
The presence of the Digital Innovation Valley, with Microsoft and Google establishments, also makes Mons a European hotspot for technology. Next to the station, the brand-new Mons International Congress Xperience (MICX) and the luxurious Van der Valk Hotel recently opened. The largest conference hall accommodates 500 guests; MICX has a total capacity for 700 to 1,000 people.
Charleroi focuses in particular on aerospace technology. The Charleroi Expo trade fair centre has a conference infrastructure for up to 450 people. The Centre Espace Meeting Européen (CEME) has halls with a maximum capacity of 250 participants.
Meet in Green
Just to the south of Brussels is the wealthy province of Walloon Brabant, with its challenging golf courses, the Villers-la-Ville abbey and numerous unique castles. The real eye-catcher for conferences, however, is the Aula Magna in Louvain-La-Neuve, a university city.
The province of Luxembourg is located in the heart of the Ardennes and is perfectly suited for green events, such as a unique team-building experience in the forest. Spending time in such a green environment is sure to generate fresh new ideas.
Cities like Durbuy, La Roche and Houffalize are must-sees, and the Château de Jemeppe castle is also worth a visit. For bigger conferences, the conference centre in Libramont and the Euro Space Center in Transinne are the perfect base.
By now it must be clear that Wallonia is buzzing and bubbling. That’s certainly the case in Spa, the historical city where the bottled water of the same name comes from. But with the Spa- Francorchamps Formula 1 circuit, Spa has another unique trump card. An incentive trip to the circuit is unforgettable. But it’s also perfectly suited for meetings. The circuit offers halls with a dining capacity for up to 450 people and a reception capacity for up to 600 people.
It’s possible to spend the night there too. Thanks to the wellness tradition that dates back centuries, there are numerous leading hotels in the area, many of which have conference facilities. Together, there are around 550 4-star rooms and around 45 meeting rooms. Of course the hotels in the city of Liege are also an excellent option.
The oldest abbey in Belgium, the Abbey of Stavelot, is also not far from Spa: a perfect location for a meeting or dinner.