Ranked second in Europe for its port activity, the bold Flemish city is more than just a major port. Cultural dynamism is its driving force and the city has redoubled its efforts on the events market since the opening of a top-class conference center a few months ago.
Its role as a river port has made it into a city that was open to the world before everywhere else, a place where countless languages are spoken thanks to the 173 different nationalities that are to be found there today. You only have to walk down the narrow alleyways around Notre-Dame Cathedral in order to imagine what life was like in this prosperous trading city in Rubens’ time. You can still find baroque churches, coffeeshops with stained-glass windows, and the diamond district, along the Scheldt, whereas if you go south you will find the leading lights in Belgian fashion, not far from the Fashion Museum (MoMu). The largest city in Flanders is teeming with design and the arts, and it has never been behind the times or trends. Its cultural dynamism can be seen right up to the port itself where Eilandje has become an up-and-coming neighborhood and a hotbed of architecture. The Port House – a new diamond for the city and a surprising building resembling the prow of a docked ship – designed by Zaha Hadid, has just opened there. The former docks are also home to the Red Star Line Museum, which documents European migration to the Americas and reminds visitors that, from 1873 onwards, 2 million passengers set sail from Antwerp to cross the Atlantic. Last but not least, the iconic Museum aan de Stroom is also located there, another unique building that shows once again that the city is no shrinking violet.
The most recent highlight is none other than the opening of the Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp, a high-performance conference center housed by part of the huge, renovated, historic zoo. A magnificent building inside which the new MICE tool benefits from the Queen Elisabeth Hall. This world-class auditorium with flawless acoustics is used, in particular, by the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, the new concert hall’s resident orchestra. It also contains a series of unique rooms in its historic wing, such as Darwin Hall with its impressive whale skeleton. Other than this new location, organizers can also choose from sites that are purely event-oriented, with industrial design such as Pomphuis, or the famous De Koninck Brewery, which offers a discovery production tour; suitable for large groups, such as Stuurboord, and the atypical De Ark; as well as sophisticated jewels, such as Paleis op de Meir and Happaert House, and high-caliber restaurants like Zilte and The Jane.
It is in this extraordinary setting that the Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel Antwerp is located, which offers 247 rooms on contemporary lines, a restaurant serving Belgian specialties, and a spa with a swimming pool. It can host meetings and events thanks to 18 conference rooms, several of which have a prime view overlooking the central train station. Located only a short walk away and served by Thalys, it is often described as one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.