Leicester, the largest city in the East Midlands, occupies a strategic position on the UK’s principal north-south road and rail networks and is a significant contributor to the country’s economy.
The former market town experienced rapid growth in the 19th and 20th centuries and is now home to two universities, a thriving engineering industry and the national headquarters of several large retail and service companies, not least Walkers Crisps and Next.
The city today has a thriving arts and media scene and boasts more historic buildings than many might expect, some of which can be hired out for corporate events. Other notable sites include the striking National Space Centre and what authorities claim is the largest outdoor covered market in Europe.
Name: Curve Theatre
Address: Rutland Street, Leicester, LE1 1SB
Tel: 0116 242 3560
Opened in 2008 by HRH The Queen, no less, the Curve is a state-of-the-art theatre and entertainment centre located ten minutes walk from Leicester train station. In addition to impressive theatre productions, the Curve has also played host to conferences, AGMs, exhibitions, product launches, awards dinners, film premieres, parties and regular meetings. Its auditorium can seat up to 750 guests and its studio up to 350. Three rehearsal rooms range in capacity from 60 to 110 attendees, a mezzanine reception space has room for 400, and seminar rooms accommodate up to 200 people. The latter have fixed data projectors and speakers. A wide range of rates and packages are available, as well as extensive catering options and audio-visual equipment.
Address: Queen Street, Leicester, LE1 1QD
Tel: 0116 262 6556
Originally designed in 1936 as an Odeon cinema, Athena appeared in many guises before finally reopening as a dedicated events venue complete with its original art deco flair. It is set in Leicester’s cultural quarter – close to the aforementioned Curve Theatre – and has a maximum capacity of 1,500 delegates. Its event spaces are comprised of a ground floor reception area, the Cinema Suite for up to 1,000 guests, the Gallery for up to 400, the versatile Deco Lounge for up to 200, and the City View Lounge for up to 75 delegates. Full catering services are available and themed events are something of a speciality at the venue.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Name: St Martin’s House
Address: 7 Peacock Lane, Leicester, LE1 5PZ
Tel: 0116 261 5200
The grade-II listed building that is today known as St Martin’s House began life in 1877 as Wyggeston Hospital Boys School. Today it is operated by the Diocese of Leicester and has a number of different rooms for hire, all featuring modern audio-visual facilities, inclusive wifi internet access and lots of natural daylight. The Grand Hall is the centerpiece of St Martin’s House and has impressive views over the adjacent cathedral. There’s also a private bar and seating for up to 150 guests. The Bishop’s Room is suitable for meetings of up to 12 people, the Kempe Room has capacity for 70, the Heyrick Room up to 25, and the Wycliffe room is for up to 60 people. Catering options are supplied by the local Hotel Maiyango.
ON A SHOESTRING
Name: Ramada Encore
Address: 84-90 Charles Street, Leicester, LE1 1GE GB
Tel: 0116 3660150
Due to open this spring in Leicester is the brand new Ramada Encore hotel, a brand geared towards ‘value conscious’ guests. The stylish three-star property, like the Curve Theatre and Athena, is located in the city’s cultural quarter, and has 115 bedrooms. There’s also a ground floor bar and bistro, free wifi internet access and two meeting rooms for up to 70 conference delegates or 30 diners, plus a breakout area. AV equipment can be hired in as required.
Name: Phoenix Square
Address: Phoenix Square, Midland Street, Leicester, LE1 1TG
Tel: 0116 2422800
This multipurpose, multimedia arts venue features three cinema screens, a television studio, exhibition space, café, bar and conference and training facilities, with capacity for events of up to 220 delegates. The ETC seminar rooms have a total capacity of 100 people standing for receptions or 70 seated and can be subdivided (into suites with capacity for 40, 30 and eight people), while each of the three auditoriums are also available for meetings, conferences and screenings. The largest seats up to 220 and the smallest for up to 30, the latter featuring unfixed seating or large bean bags as a more informal option. Audio-visual equipment is of the highest standard – as you’d expect at a venue of this nature – and a full catering service is also offered by prior arrangement.
SMALL BUT PERFECTLY FORMED
Name: City Rooms
Address: Hotel Street, Leicester, LE1 5AW
Tel: 0116 251 5337
Built in 1792, The City Rooms enjoy the refined surrounds you’d expect of a grade-I listed Georgian building. The building underwent a significant restoration project in 2006 and today this elegant meeting and banqueting venue consists of four spaces, the largest being the impressive Ballroom. The Dining Room has capacity for up to 70 delegates and the Drawing Room space for 55, while a bar doubles up as a convenient breakout area.
Getting there: East Midlands airport is around 20 miles from Leicester; Birmingham Airport is around 40 miles away. The city is on the East Midlands train line from London St Pancras to South Yorkshire, with direct services to/from London taking around 75 minutes. By car, Leicester is two hours from London, one hour from Birmingham and two hours from Manchester.