2 men in armour conducting a themed interetation in the Tournamant Gallery at the Royal Armouries, Leeds


Hosting a conference with a difference?

When it comes to hosting a conference in a new location, organisers have a variety of considerations to make. Firstly, they have to consider the transport links to the city and understand how these can accommodate delegates travelling internationally and nationally. Then, they need to explore the venue portfolio of the city and choose a venue that suits their conference, and finally, they will need to understand the culture and offers available within the host city and plan their delegates’ days around this.

However, just one of those considerations can be made easier in Leeds, as this city in the heart of Yorkshire has a great deal of experiences to offer delegates, especially if they want to go off the beaten track. There are a handful of unique experiences we’d recommend organisers to suggest to their delegates, and you can see these in our blog here.

Learn to joust like a knight!
Located on the trendy Clarence Dock, The Royal Armouries museum is one of the most iconic museums in the north of England, displaying the National Collection of Arms and Armour. Visitors can immerse themselves in a range of exhibitions and attractions all showcasing the history of weaponry across the world and delegates can really immerse themselves in the whole experience by learning to joust!

Recently, the Royal Armouries held a jousting workshop for 150 delegates who arrived from the USA to attend a healthcare technology conference. After previously hosting the event on top of a roller-coaster in Las Vegas and in the desert in the Middle East, when looking for a new location the organisers highlighted their desire to do something different and culturally relevant. So it’s no surprise that Horizon Leeds, an award-winning NHS Confederation conference venue in the heart of Leeds, partnered with the armouries to give delegates an amazing and unrivalled experience of being a real medieval knight as part of their two day event in the city.

Join a Geocaching hunt around the city
Exploring the city of Leeds is a must for delegates here for a conference. With its walkable nature and an abundance of things to see and do, it would be a real shame not to experience the best that Leeds has to offer whilst visiting! However, for those looking to challenge delegates there’s the option to send them on a real life treasure hunt! Leeds has a series of boxes hidden around the city and the suburbs, each of which has a little object inside. In order to find them, delegates must work together in order to solve clues which give coordinates leading to those locations. The fun challenge will lead participants to make all kinds of discoveries, and really exploring the length and depth of the city’s iconic landmarks and public art spaces. Delegates are also free to take whatever they find in the geocaching box, as long as they replace it with something of equal or greater value.

Learn to brew coffee like a professional
Now, there’s truly nothing unusual about delegates enjoying a coffee. For anyone attending a conference or event, usually the first session in a morning is punctuated by the scent of coffee beans as people enjoy a brew to start the day. However, what about the opportunity to learn how to taste and make coffee like a real barista? Similar to the brewery experiences that are now so popular, your delegates can choose to go for an all-round coffee experience, courtesy of Leeds’ first micro roaster, North Star, who have made themselves at home on Leeds Dock. From their all purpose coffee shop, where you can buy their beans to use at home, they run the North Star Coffee Academy. This is a comprehensive, in-depth series of courses that cover everything from home barista and home-brewing to professional courses in barista skills and sensory skills, and they can be created on a bespoke basis for delegates who are interested.

Catch a film in the UK’s only gas-lit cinema
After a long day of learning and networking, sometimes delegates want nothing more than to escape into a dimly lit room and enjoy watching a film. However popular a cinema trip is for delegates, Leeds can offer an experience like no other, as it’s home to one of the most unique cinemas in the country, the Hyde Park Picture House. Housed in a Grade II listed building, this picture house is the last remaining gas-lit establishment of its kind and one of the oldest cinemas in the country. The classic interior allows visitors to feel as though they’ve stepped back in time as they tuck into popcorn and settle down to watch a film. With a range of films playing, from big blockbusters to indie specials, both new and old, this cinema will give delegates plenty to see during their visit.

Enjoy a one on one with Leeds’ Humboldt penguins!
Harewood House is one of Leeds’ most spectacular venues. Sitting in the heart of Yorkshire, just on the outside of the centre of Leeds city centre, Harewood is one of the Treasure Houses of England. The House was built in the 18th century and has art collections to rival the finest in Britain. Alongside their traditional venue experience, Harewood House can also offer delegates a day out with a difference. Every day between March and November, visitors are able to feed their flock of Humboldt penguins and get up close and personal with the lovely little creatures whilst helping the professional zookeepers feed them whitebait and sprats – their delicacy of choice. This could be a nice option for delegates looking to explore their wilder side when visiting the city for a conference or event.