These are the best convention centres in New Europe, according to Meetings Star, the annual ranking and award curated by the editorial board of Kongres Magazine and Conventa.
The development of the MICE product in individual countries is reflected in the number of convention centres. Convention centres can be considered strategic infrastructure of any serious destination regarding the surface area. in this part of Europe, massive convention centres with a surface area stretching over 50.000 m2 are rare. Only four such can be found in the largest meeting capitals of the region – Vienna, Athens and Istanbul.
Convention centres still have room for improvement in their additional offer, sustainable development, services and digitalisation. Modern digital marketing goes hand in hand with the level of digitalisation of individual convention centres.
TOP 10 BEST CONVENTION CENTRES IN 2022
10. Šibenik Convention Centre, Šibenik, Croatia
This is the first and largest convention centre in the Croatia and Adriatic region. A world-class venue offering 11 state-of-the-art meeting halls, the centre is spread out over three easy-to-navigate levels, each floor serving a different function. The Ground Floor event space, with its movable stage, is well suited for large gatherings. The Lower Floor – featuring open space and a bar – is geared towards exhibitions and conferences, while the First Floor is designed for meetings and break-out sessions. Amadria Park proudly provides the fastest Internet speeds for business meetings and events in Croatia.
10. Congress Graz, Graz, Austria
All congress facilities in Graz were some time ago connected in a joint company MCG. The central part is the Messecongress Graz, which shares its space with the trade fair and event hall Stadthalle. A decade ago, the whole offer was very innovative and is still today a role model for multifunctional congress offers. It enables the combination of different sized events and is the heart of the Austrian Styria congress offer. 44 multifunctional rooms for meetings, conferences and congresses, balls and concerts, the most modern multifunctional hall in Austria and seven expo halls – that’s how large the range of facilities offered by Messe Congress Graz really is.
10. Brdo Congress Centre, Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia
Highest state protocol events, exclusive congresses and conferences, exquisite formal and informal solemnities, and other luxurious happenings take place at Brdo pri Kranju in its natural environment with the beautiful scenery of the mountains. With almost 500 hectares of surface at the doorstep of the Alps, Brdo estate boasts in rich natural and cultural heritage. There you can admire thousands of vegetable and animal species and their numerous habitats, unique beehive endings, scattered hayracks, former castle stables and orangery, open-air sculpture collection, and last but not least the Brdo Castle as the most prestigious building on the estate.
9. Halic Congress Centre, Istanbul, Turkey
The Haliç Congress Centre, located along the historical Haliç coast, offers its guests a peaceful environment away from the bustling megacity. The Centre has hosted many major congresses and special events and provides its guests with an incomparable experience due to an uncompromising quality of service. The Centre spans 102,000 m2 and includes an open space of 16,000 m2. It comprises four buildings that are interconnected with broad galleries and lounges filled with sunshine, with a total indoor exhibition area of 9,000 m2.
9. Congress Centre Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
In June 2019, the biggest congress hall in BiH and the region was opened next to the Hotel Hills. The Congress and venue centre of Hotel Hills Sarajevo is a multi-purpose congress centre with modern conference technology. It can hold up to 5,000 delegates. The congress Hall is adapted for business conferences, formal ceremonies, as well as for matches in basketball, handball and other sports. All rooms have the necessary conference equipment with the stages. The capacity of the large conference hall is 1500 seats. Other congress halls have a capacity of 180, 150, and 100 seats. The biggest advantage of the conference rooms is the possibility of partition into smaller or larger rooms.
8. ICC Katowice, Katowice, Poland
The International Congress Centre (ICC) in Katowice is among the best facilities in Poland for business events. Finished in 2015, the building is characterized by its post-industrial aesthetic and functional design. It is ideal for congresses, conferences, exhibitions, fairs, and other spectacles. The facility can accommodate up to 15,000 people and, together with Spodek next door, is one of the largest business/entertainment arenas in Poland. The International Congress Centre in Katowice was named the best congress facility in Poland at the 2015 Meeting Planner Power Awards. The International Congress Centre has served as an arena for events such as Intel Extreme Masters, WTA Open Katowice, Tauron New Music Festival, and European Economic Congress.
7. IEC Ekaterinburg Expo, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Driving on the highway from the modern airport towards the centre of Yekaterinburg, we can see a majestic LED screen, which is an integral part of the brand-new congress centre. Behind the modern façade, hides probably the most beautiful congress hall in Russia and Europe right now. The Congress Centre, which marks the entrance to the city, is a thoughtful architectural response to the city’s new vision and a foundation of the new meetings industry future in Russia’s 4th biggest city. The Centre reinforces Yekaterinburg’s vision as a junction of business and MICE opportunities between Europe and Asia.
6. Salzburg Congress Centre, Salzburg, Austria
The central location next to the Mirabell Palace is one of its many advantages. This architectural masterpiece offers not only a picturesque view over the gardens of the Mirabell Palace and downtown Salzburg; it also captures congress participants with its close vicinity to nature, its combination of modernity and tradition and the tidiness of the city itself. The architects did a fabulous job. After all, they took six years to fulfil their task. The exterior is elegant, breezy, and in perfect harmony with the green surroundings; the interior is dynamic, minimalistic and oriented toward congress participants.
5. Hofburg Vienna, Vienna, Austria
As an imperial conference and event centre, there is nothing like the Hofburg Vienna anywhere else in the world. For over 700 years, both past and modern history have been written within its walls. The Hofburg Vienna holds 17,000 m² of space in 35 rooms for events ranging from 50 to 4,900 persons. The heart of the property is embodied by the imperial staterooms which are equipped with ultramodern event technology. Altogether, the entire Hofburg complex (the former winter residence of the Habsburgs) contains a total area of 500,000 m² on 18 wings with 54 staircases, 19 courtyards and 2,600 different rooms. The Ground Floor (Parterre) serves as an elegant entrance hall, yet it is also delightfully surprising for its exciting range of multifunctional spaces for presentations, meetings and exhibitions.
4. Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia
For Cankarjev dom, it seems like it’s been here since time immemorial. For 33 years the legendary institution has been a synonym for cultural and humanistic activities and meetings industry tourism in Slovenia. The most impressive aspect is that the original programme vision under leadership of the legendary director Mitja Rotovnik has been completely fulfilled. In Cankarjev dom the cultural-artistic programme and congress activity have been excellently complementing each other at all times of operation – a paradigm, which is particularly of interest today. All this places Cankarjev dom among one of the higher-quality and more interesting convention centres in Europe.
4. Ferry Porsche Congress Centre, Zell am See, Austria
The Ferry Porsche Congress Center meets every demand and has been designed to provide maximum flexibility. The up-to-date interior beautifully highlights the modern exterior of the building. Up to 1,200 visitors can be seated in the variably changeable rooms that can be easily adapted to the requirements of small conventions as well as of major congresses. If requested, the venue can provide exclusive catering service during the event. Not only does the innovative congress building offer technology at its highest level. The state-of-the-art house also sets standards where flexibility is concerned: thanks to movable walls and an individual provision of seating, its interior can be adjusted to any particular event.
3. Baku Convention Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan
The Baku Convention Center, the largest in the Caucasus, is an ultra-modern platform capable of providing events at the highest international level. With a number of adaptable conference rooms and the main hall for up to 3,500 people, the Baku Convention Center offers a wide range of options for congresses, conferences, seminars, business meetings, concerts and other events. The design concept reflects not only the promising future of Baku but also its nature as an important commercial port, industrial and tourist city. The Baku Convention Center has 17 conference rooms and In addition to conference rooms and lecture halls, there are also rooms for meetings and workshops.
2. Austria Center Vienna, Vienna, Austria
The combination of 19 halls, 180 meeting rooms and more than 26,000m2 of exhibition space and networking areas gives the Austria Center Vienna a unique advantage on the international stage. Apart from its overall attractiveness, one of the key factors that influences which venue to choose is the way that it collaborates with the wider destination. Over recent years, the Austria Center Vienna has increasingly specialised in out-of-the-ordinary event concepts, which is particularly interesting for corporate meetings. As Austria’s largest congress and event centre, the venue delivers maximum flexibility and the ideal spaces for every kind of format.
WINNER: 1. ICE Krakow Congress Centre, Krakow, Poland
A huge advantage of the centre is its functional design that embellishes the centre’s crown jewel, the Auditorium hall. ICE Krakow’s smart design can be interpreted as the ideal combination of congress halls with a fixed setting and multifunctional halls such as the Chamber Hall. Even though we have said much about ICE Krakow, it is only righteous to recap its essence. Projects such as Krakow Network Protocol have placed ICE Krakow on the very top of our list. Only a handful of congress centres around the world have proven such agility, resilience and diligence to work in the interest of the entire industry.
The congress centre’s architecture, the excellence of the main auditorium and the fantastic team operating like a well-oiled machine impressed us the most. Indeed, there are more spacious and larger congress centres out there. However, the entire package of ICE Krakow is incredibly balanced and convincing. All combined, ICE Krakow is among the best of the best. More importantly, event organisers will feel at home at the centre. It is no coincidence that ICCA chose ICE Krakow for its World Congress in 2022, which was a tremendous success. We full-heartedly recommend opting for the venue, not least because you will pay much less for renting halls than in more famed congress centres.
Read the full Hidden Guest evaluation here.
Join the gala award ceremony and congratulate the winners
The gala ceremony for the winners will be held during Conventa, taking place between 1 and 2 February 2023 in Ljubljana. In this category, the following certificates, divided into three sub-categories on the premise of achieved points in the hidden guest evaluation, will be announced:
18 GOLD certificates – final score from 4.81 to 5.00
5 SILVER certificates – final score from 4.61 to 4.80
9 BRONZE certificates – final score from 4.41 to 4.60
The Meetings Star Award has been awarded for the past thirteen years by the editorial board of Kongres Magazine and Conventa to the best destinations, meeting hotels, venues and meeting professionals. Since its inception, the selection has become a recognised accolade by event organisers and the industry. It is considered one of the rare awards based on comprehensive criteria and ratings by hidden congress guests, whose visits are unannounced. They are industry professionals with rich experience in event organising and extensive knowledge in the hotel business. Furthermore, the assessors have verified references in ensuring the quality of their work in the meetings industry, thus ensuring clients get objective insight and the reliability of the methodology. Our hidden guest assessors strive for objectivity and aim to be fair, meticulous, reliable, well-organised and pay attention to detail, evaluating 654 tangible criteria.