Ranked second in Europe for its port activity, the bold Flemish city of Antwerp is more than just a major port. Cultural dynamism is its driving force. Recently the city has completely re-positioned itself on the events market especially since the opening of a top-class conference center only a few months ago.
A forward-looking and multicultural city
Thanks to it strong position as a major river port Antwerp has opened itself to the world before everywhere else. It is a unique place where countless languages are spoken as a result of the 173 different nationalities that currently can be found there today. It only takes a walk down the narrow alleyways around Notre-Dame Cathedral to imagine what life was like in this prosperous trading city in Rubens' time. You can still find baroque churches, coffee shops with stained-glass windows, and the diamond district, along the Scheld. 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 teaming 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 Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp
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, facing the impressive Grand Central Station building. The hotel offers 247 renovated rooms, a restaurant serving Belgian specialties, as well as a spa with a swimming pool. It can also 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.