Over five million people live in Scotland, a country which stretches from the Solway Firth right up to Unst in the Shetland Islands. It is a country with unrivalled landscapes, a proud history, and a future which sets out to be a most exciting one. For the last part of the 20th century, it has been the discovery of North Sea Oil and Gas which has led to its recent prosperity.
The Forties oilfield, its stunning scenery and post-industrial economies have helped to make Scotland an attractive location for conference venues. Whether skiing, golf, tourist attractions, or suitable rural alternatives to city centre venue woo delegates, there's no shortage of potential places. Castles or modern exhibition centres? Scotland has them all.
One city more than anywhere in Scotland has been transformed by the arrival of North Sea Oil and Gas: Aberdeen. It is the third biggest city in Scotland and a popular northerly venue for conferences. Just three miles north of the city centre is the AECC, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. Originally opening as the Centre at the Bridge of Don, it started off as a permanent venue for Offshore Europe, an annual symposium for offshore oil and gas drilling industries.
Today, AECC hosts over 600 events and welcomes 300,000 visitors per year. It is well connected by local bus, rail and coach services, with Aberdeen Dyce Airport (seven miles away) offering scheduled flights and helicopter services to offshore drilling platforms.
As a consequence of post-industrial decline and change, is the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, on the banks of the River Clyde. West of Glasgow city centre, it opened in 1985, with the addition of a hotel in 1989. A purpose built conference centre, The Clyde Auditorium, designed by Sir Norman Foster - known as 'The Armadillo' - opened in 1996. This would later be joined by the SSE Hydro, a 12,500 seat covered arena. It is a national venue which Scotland has every reason to be proud of.
Glasgow has a wealth of attractions for shoppers and art lovers alike. There is the proud Victorian city with squares around Hillhead and Kelvingrove Park. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is an absolute 'must visit' attraction with one of Europe's greatest art collections. The recently opened Riverside Museum explores the city's transport history and the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art has a number of inspiring displays. The latter, named after the city's patron saint explores the importance of religion in art. For an insight into Glaswegian life up to the 20th century, there's The People's Palace.
The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, is not without its charms. Both the Old Town and the Georgian era New Town are well worth exploring. In the former, no trip to Edinburgh is complete with visiting its castle and seeing the Scottish Crown Jewels. Other attractions include the National Museum of Scotland, St. Giles Cathedral and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. There is no shortage of suitable conference venues, thanks to the city's wealth of theatres and hotels.
If your ideal conference venues constitute the ruination of a good walk, the birthplace of golf is a suitable option. The Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews borders the 17th 'Road Hole' of the Old Course. It is a must for all golf enthusiasts, with the five star hotel offering spa facilities and an award winning bar with malt whiskies from over 200 distilleries. Another 'must visit' hotel is the world famous Gleneagles Hotel, set in 850 acres of Perthshire countryside with three championship golf courses. As well as playing host to the 2014 Ryder Cup, it is a superb location for country sports, such as shooting, fishing and equestrianism. It has been deemed 'The Best Golf Resort in the World'.
Most of Scotland is accessible by road and rail. Scheduled rail services from London and Manchester call at Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley railway stations, with some continuing to Aberdeen and Dundee. You could also leave London in the evening and wake up in Fort William the following morning aboard the West Highland Sleeper train. There is a wealth of flights from the London airports and Manchester Airport into Scotland, with Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports serving the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland islands. Furthermore, they are also served by ferries including those operated by Caledonian MacBrayne and NorthLink.
With so much to see and such great potential, you'll be foolish to ignore Scotland with its wide variety of conference venues in a number of settings.