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Halifax Convention Centre: World Class Hospitality in a Shiny New Venue [Venue Review]

By EventMB Team

In our recent state of the industry survey, when corporate event planners were asked to list the things they care about most when planning an event, venue was ranked second most important, with 64% listing it as one of their main concerns. Almost half of all those surveyed said that venue was one of the key factors for converting prospects into attendees (47%).

As the demand for unique event experiences continues to grow, choosing the right venue is vital and event planners look at shiny new event spaces with interest to help them to set their event apart from the competition. Officially opened in December 2017, Halifax is eager to provide a memorable environment for international delegates. Nova Scotia’s new conference and exhibition centre joins culture with design to ensure that the hospitality and character of the destination are encompassed within the surroundings. Plush surroundings isn’t enough though if it isn’t backed up with excellent customer service, an enticing location and high quality cuisine.    

The new venue features 120,000 square feet of event space, including a 30,000 square foot ballroom overlooking the city, 50,000 square feet of multi-purpose convention space, and 40,000 square feet of intimate meeting space across 38 meeting rooms.

Let’s take a sneak peek inside to see if Halifax Convention Centre can deliver…

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Why Halifax Convention Centre?

Travelling to Halifax

The Halifax Convention Centre is only 30 minutes from Halifax Stanfield International Airport, with flights around the world. Perhaps surprisingly Halifax is only a 5-hour flight from the UK. Individual or group shuttles and public transport from the airport are very affordable and plentiful.

Via Rail Canada can take you from Halifax to Montreal overnight on a sleeper train. Cruise ships sail into the Port of Halifax and ferries land at the Nova Scotia ports of Digby, Caribou, Yarmouth and North Sydney.

Destination and Location

Halifax Convention Centre is located in the heart of the entertainment district, with the best local dining, arts and culture within an easy stroll of the venue.

Nova Scotia has a world-class reputation for hospitality and service, which really shines through in the website and communications with the team. Halifax is also a hub of research and academic excellence, with 23 universities and colleges highlighting the intellectual capital of the area.

Hospitality

From the start of this multi-million-dollar development, the intention was always to create a facility that truly represents Nova Scotia and connects the province to the world. This started by speaking with thousands of locals to really understand what is important to them and then reflecting the city within the design of the building.

Food & Beverage

The venue is proud to feature a local program that showcases Nova Scotia food, culture and experiences to its national and international visitors. The aim is to encourage guests to love Nova Scotia like a local does. The in-house catering team prepares and handcrafts nearly every item from scratch using fresh ingredients and sourcing locally when possible.  

Design

As well as the venue design being inspired by the local environment, the Halifax Convention Centre team won recognition for their marketing campaigns leading up to the launch period, including the “Imagine” campaign, which regularly engaged event planners as the new centre was developed.

Environmental Recognition

The venue is working toward its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. To achieve this, the building earns points across nine basic areas that address key aspects of green buildings. Some of the highlights of the Halifax Convention Centre from an environmental perspective include:

  • The Combined Services Complex consumes 30% less energy than a non-LEED certified building of the same size.
  • Renewable (green) power is used for more than 50% of the regular power usage.
  • The use of water-efficient fixtures has resulted in a 46% reduction in potable water use.

Popular Rooms and Spaces

The centre offers over 120,000 square feet of flexible event space, across four levels and including 38 breakout rooms. There is a bright and iconic atrium arrival area, and natural light throughout most of the facility. The venue offers the ability to divide into two completely independent convention levels, allowing for privacy and optimal traffic flow, even during multiple concurrent events.

Convention Level

Easy to access from the main Argyle Street entrance, this independent convention floor features 50,000 square feet of rentable space, including a column-free hall with adjacent meeting rooms, ample pre-function area, and a secondary convention hall. The Convention Hall level offers the most versatile and flexible set up which can adjust to suit your specific event needs, and offer a place for trade shows, dinners or general sessions. The high ceilings and light materials draw you into the space.

The Convention Hall is column-free and divisible. The two signature spaces (the main Convention Hall and secondary Convention Hall) can combine to provide over 37,000 square feet of convention space. There are nine meeting rooms for breakout sessions on this level.

Argyle Level and Atrium

The bright, airy and iconic atrium, leads to meeting rooms and connects visitors to hotels, retail, restaurants and parking. The lobby can act as a convenient registration area or delegate meeting point.

There is approximately 11,000 square foot of meeting space across six meeting rooms. The Argyle Suite can be used as three individual spaces holding 200 theatre style or 120 on oval tables with AV and stage in each area. Alternatively, two or all three sections can be combined into one large ballroom, perfect for an upscale dinner or intimate conference.

Ballroom Level

The Ballroom Level has over 40,000 square feet of rentable space with an additional 9,500 square feet adjacent, which can be used as a pre-function area.

The Ballroom itself offers 30,000 square feet of column-free space, with 24-foot ceilings. Perched above the city, with floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views, this could be the perfect backdrop for any gala, banquet or conference plenary.

The adjacent 6,000 sq ft Ballroom Salon offers flexibility to be used for receptions, lunch breaks, registration and more. The rest of the pre-function area would be useful for relaxed seating or your event’s internet café.

There are eight breakout rooms on this level, most with natural light. Room 508 also boasts an intimate Studio Kitchen for unique culinary experiences.

Summit Level

For an intimate meeting or lunch, the 15 self-contained meeting rooms can be used independently or with any other level as extra breakout space. There is fast access from the Ballroom Level below and rooms come with every amenity you could ask for. There is ample natural light throughout the area and in many of the rooms. There is a technology-enabled Executive Boardroom, perfect for high powered business meetings.

The Highlights

There are lots of exciting elements offered by the Halifax Convention Centre. In our opinion, these elements particularly distinguish the centre as a venue that is worthy of your consideration:

Cuisine

The East Coast of Canada is known for its beauty, hospitality and bountiful locally-sourced cuisine. The culinary experience is a huge part of the offering from the venue and they take great pride in the food served. The coastal influence using local flavors, traditions and European influence helps the venue team to create fresh menus. You'll always know exactly what you're eating.

Sustainable Catering

As well as providing locally sourced ingredients, the catering team helps reduce your event’s carbon footprint and provides guests with healthy food options. At the event planner’s request, the kitchen is happy to purposely work imperfect fruits and vegetables, which might otherwise be thrown out, into your menu. Event leftovers can be donated to a local food bank to help reduce food waste and support social good.

Dietary Requirements and Allergy Free Kitchens

The venue automatically takes into consideration some of the dietary requirements of your delegates. The Halifax Convention Centre prepares 5% of the final guaranteed number as alternate meals. When specific meal requests are required, the chef is happy to provide a detailed allergy or alternate meal list based on client needs. The kitchen is equipped to accommodate various health and dietary restrictions, including the ability to create allergy-free zones at the request of the event organizer. This is not something that many kitchens can guarantee and, particularly in the case of nut allergies, it is great to see a venue taking this so seriously.

Multi-use Venue with Independent Convention Levels

The venue is versatile and flexible to accommodate a variety of event types and multi-use. The venue also has the ability to divide into two fully independent convention levels, allowing for privacy and optimal traffic flow during different concurrent events.

There are two primary public entrances to the Halifax Convention Centre: Argyle Street and Grafton Street. Argyle Street is the preferred entrance for organized transportation and Grafton Street is easily accessible via the hotel (which is still under development) and retail shops. The centre is also accessible from the facility public parking garage via an elevator.

Technology and Digital Signage

The venue has a state-of-the-art data and voice network, to provide shared and dedicated bandwidth connections, robust WiFi access up to 10,000 devices, and custom networking solutions.

The Halifax Convention Centre has digital signage identifying ‘daily events’ in the centre, displayed on interactive wayfinding kiosks throughout the building. Meeting rooms are also equipped with a monitor at each entrance door displaying the name and details of the event.

Accessibility

Infrared Audio Assistive Listening Systems are permanently installed in the Convention Hall and Ballroom event spaces, and are temporarily available for meeting rooms and public spaces. The restrooms are fully accessible.

Each level is also equipped with a private universal washroom. Tactile Braille signage is at the entrances of all restrooms, as well as inside and outside all passenger elevators.

Surrounding Area

Halifax is the ultimate walkable city and Halifax Convention Centre is in the heart of downtown, close to hotels, shops, and restaurants. Attendees can explore a vibrant and historic city and within an hour of the venue, there are outdoor adventures, scenic beaches, wineries, golf and other activities if you are looking to add even more to your guest itinerary.

Who is it For?

Halifax Convention Centre offers great spaces for conferences, exhibitions, dinners and meetings. It will be particularly appealing for event planners producing rich event programs, for instance, a multi-day agenda combining plenary sessions, break out sessions, exhibition and gala dinner.

Planning an Event at the Halifax Convention Centre

If you are planning an event at the Halifax Convention Centre the venue provides a timeline checklist to all clients outlining when the event planner must return information to the venue. For example, menus must be agreed upon 45 days in advance, with final guarantees 5 business days prior. Other specifics international event planners may be interested in knowing include:

Tech, AV and Service Partners

In the public spaces, up to 10,000 devices can access free high-speed, always-on connectivity, however in the meeting room the event planner needs to pay for universal access ($5 CAD per person) or the individual can pay to upgrade on a daily basis ($20 CAD).

FMAV is the official in-house partner for audiovisual, digital sign software and support, as well as exclusive rigging services. Global Convention Services Ltd. is the official in-house partner for trade show services, including electrical services, off-site storage, vehicle marshaling, and exclusive materials handling.

Loading Dock and Freight Elevators

The loading dock can accommodate five different trucks, vans and trailers at a time and is linked to the two freight elevators, each with 20,000 lbs capacity.  

Event planners and exhibitors may use the Argyle Street, Grafton Street, or parking entrances to transport acceptable hand-carry materials, such as boxes, suitcases or fiberboard shipping cartons, portable displays on wheels and small luggage racks.

Meeting Room Set-up and Re-setting

The standard set-up for meeting rooms each day is included in the rent. The room set-up includes: the seating style selected, head table and banquet chairs, registration, hand-out tables, paper, pens, mints, waste and recycle stations, a digital event posting outside the room, and general housekeeping. If you want any room to be re-set there is a fee payable, unless for a food and beverage event with selections ordered from the catering menus.

Water Stations

For meetings and conventions, a water station is provided in each meeting room at no charge. Water bottle filling stations are also available throughout the facility on each level.

Licensing

No alcoholic beverages may be sold or served to any person under the age of 19, the legal age for consumption in Nova Scotia. Photo identification is required for any persons wishing to buy alcohol and appearing under the age of 30. In addition, those under the age of 19 may not be present in licensed event spaces past 9 pm.

Specs

Rooms and Spaces:

  • Over 120,000 square feet of flexible event space, including:
    • 30,000 square foot ballroom overlooking the city
    • 50,000 square feet of multi-purpose convention space
    • 40,000 square feet of intimate meeting space
  • Ability to divide into two independent convention levels, allowing for privacy and optimal traffic flow during multiple events
  • Features a bright and iconic atrium arrival area, and natural light throughout most of the facility

Maximum Capacity: See Floorplan and Capacities.

Technology:  

  • Complimentary Guest WiFi is available in public spaces. WiFi is available in meeting rooms, at a cost.
  • FMAV are the audiovisual partner of the venue.

Hour Limit: This is a 24-hour venue by prior arrangement. Those under the age of 19 may not be present in licensed event spaces past 9:00 p.m. Licensed functions must close by 1:00 a.m.

Concierge Service: Yes

Virtual Tour: Not yet available but in progress

In Conclusion

The Halifax Convention Centre is a shiny new conference and exhibition venue with a lot to offer event planners and anyone attending events there. The multi-purpose space, locally sourced menu and maritime infused location elevate the venue to offer a rounded event experience. Contact the Halifax Convention Centre to find out if they could be the perfect hosts for your event.

Disclaimer: Reviews are paid for placements. While Event Manager Blog receives a fee to extensively look at the venue and review it in detail, the content of the review is independent and by no means influenced by the company. If you have any questions please use the contact us section.

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