ACE Commercial Manager Catherine Pank discovers beautiful Belfast, with a sneak preview of an exciting ACE event coming up later this year...
I’ve not been to Belfast more than 15 years, and boy has it changed! The amazing weather probably contributed – the day I was there recently was the hottest on record, and it felt like I was in St Tropez rather than Belfast docks! The Titanic Quarter is a new regeneration area, with a swanky marina, hotels, cafés, a cinema, an events arena and not one, but two fabulous museums which we’ll be visiting when we’re back here on 27 November 2018 for ACE on Tour in Belfast.
W5 (pictured above right) is an enormous award-winning interactive Science and Discovery Centre, and it was absolutely packed with exuberant school visit groups. They were having a great time in the various different activity zones, clearly having loads of fun, but learning key scientific principles at the same time. With a strong educational remit, W5 appeals to a family and schools audience, encouraging repeat visits from locals as well as one-off visits from further afield. There’s enough here to keep a family occupied for a full day….and it’s exciting enough to want to repeat the experience again and again.
Just a 10 minute walk away, at the opposite end of the marina, is Titanic Belfast (pictured above left). It’s an iconic building, housing a permanent exhibition which charts the full story of the Titanic through a series of interactive and informative display areas. From the workers in the docks and the shipping office, to the passengers, crew and rescuers; people are at the heart of the story. Attracting a large number of international visitors, as well as UK tourists – Titanic Belfast is a sensitively done commercial success.
I met with David Stalker from W5 and Denise Kennedy from Titanic Belfast, and we’ve put together a stimulating and informative programme about the commercial enterprises at these two very different venues. Speakers will cover retail, catering and venue hire, giving insights into the particular challenges and successes at each museum as well as the chance for a look around.
Worried about how to get to Belfast? Don’t be! It took me less time and cost me less money to travel from Manchester to Belfast than to go to London. The Titanic Quarter is a very short taxi ride from Belfast City Airport (less than a tenner!) and the Premier Inn was great value and close by – I could see both museums from the hotel lobby! There are flights from many UK mainland airports into Belfast City, the flight was only 40 minutes, and again – it cost me less than the train fare to London.
If we can get enough delegates arriving the night before the event (Monday 26 November) then we’ll arrange some networking drinks in the Titanic Quarter, so everyone can get to know each other and make good contacts even before the event starts. Watch this space for more details – hope to see you in beautiful Belfast later this year!
Catherine Pank, ACE Commercial Manager