In the heart of Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city, is a growing resource for event professionals that calls on the past and future to host and delight attendees from all over the world. Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau has revived the slogan “It’s nice to have you in Birmingham” to describe the special brand of southern hospitality that includes James Beard Award-winning restaurants, historic walking tours and world-class art and jazz performances.
Even Birmingham Museum of Art beckons, with 150,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space and 30,000 sq. ft. of outdoor sculpture that houses a mix of Italian Renaissance paintings, Remington bronze statues and modern art from Alabama artist Jack Whitten.
More: Top 5 Ways to Enhance Your Meeting Experience at The Westin Birmingham
Following is a roundup of fresh ways to deliver that upscale wow from a central Uptown location without ever putting anyone on a bus.
The city’s notable role in the Civil Rights struggle is visible on arrival at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), which pays homage to activist the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who led the fight against segregation. As the largest airport in the state, it is served by five airlines with direct service to 15 cities. It is 5 miles from Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC).
Meet and Stay
The Complex in the BJCC includes 757 guest rooms and almost 47,000 sq. ft. of meeting space in 29 event rooms at Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, and 294 guest rooms and more than 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting space in 13 event rooms at The Westin Birmingham. All of these ballrooms and restaurant options (Do try the crispy spicy chicken wings at Todd English P.U.B. restaurant) are connected via climate-controlled walkways to 220,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space big enough to host Alabama Auto Show.
Finishing up your event with a concert for the ages? Book 18,000-seat Legacy Arena, where everyone from Kiss to Death Cab for Cutie and Carrie Underwood have played. Gathering the staff from all over the country to hear your CEO map out plans for the next year? The acoustically fine-tuned, 2,800-seat Concert Hall has you covered. Or, make the stately Magic City Theatre your own by activating the motorized curtaining system to take it from 10,000 to 3,000 seats. Tasked with producing a medical conference? The 10-story Forum Building offers classroom, meeting and conference space in 364,000 sq. ft. of commercial office building, equipped with a teleconferencing center and translation services.
Eat and Drink
The BJCC is the cornerstone of Uptown, an entertainment district that boasts the permanent location for Eugene’s Hot Chicken, which started as a big, red truck dishing up Nashville-style spiced and breaded poultry. You can also drift down Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard to find Texas de Brazil for the insatiable carnivores in the group and Cantina Laredo for guacamole made fresh at the table, washed down with the house special, Casa Rita.
Across the street from the BJCC is Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, home of more than 5,000 sports artifacts housed in 33,000 sq. ft. of tributes to auto racing, baseball, basketball, boxing, golf and football legends from the state. The museum is flexible in its definition of athlete. Alongside the of tributes to Jesse Owens, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays sit memorabilia from George Herbert Walker Bush and Bob Hope as “Distinguished Sportsmen.”
New to the area is Topgolf, a high-tech spin on the driving range with more than 100 climate-controlled hitting bays outfitted with microchipped balls so groups can challenge each other without leaving their cozy nook. All this action is paired with local draught beer, specialty cocktails and catering. Or take it to the roof where a fire-pit terrace awaits.