Northern Powerhouse. Contrasting Styles.


Travelling from Manchester to Harrogate recently, I began to think about the contrast between these two conference and event destinations. I wondered which I preferred.

Now, cards on table, I’ll declare that I lived in Harrogate for almost ten years but I’m also a big fan of Manchester. I can see and enjoy the different qualities of big city and more rural spaces alike.

Harrogate isn’t exactly the middle of nowhere, far from it but the journey there by train is a very pretty one. As I arrive I see that the Stitching, Sowing and Hobbycrafts Show was taking place. In Manchester I’d witnessed the dismantling of an exhibition for insurance companies and awards ceremonies for big names in property, amongst other things. Of course, Harrogate has played host to many prestigious events and still does. But the contrast was something that struck me.

I wondered if the pace of life influenced the type of events these places attract? There has been big party political conferences in both locations, so I’m not sure. What does influence the type of city or town that event planners chose for large (or smaller) conference and exhibition?


Transport must play a vital role surly? Are certain events suited to city centres? Maybe that’s the case for one day events, but longer events often give delegates the chance to engage in a little tourism too. Both places have that in spades and we all need some down time.

Cost is certainly a factor. Is it cheaper to hold an event out of a ‘big city’? In London I’d say sure, but Manchester, Birmingham, Telford, Newcastle… are they that much more expensive than Conference towns like Harrogate?

One thing I know for sure, is that these two places still thrive on business tourism, as it’s often referred to, and I wondered if Brexit would affect these two dependable conference towns, both of whom depend on events bringing in people and, of course, cash. It would certainly be ironic for Harrogate, a town that once hosted the Eurovision Song Contest!

So, event planners, what makes you chose a town or city? Not a venue, I’m talking a town or city. We’d be fascinated to know here at R&B Group, we thrive on events as much as any destination.