By Jennifer N. Dienst, Contributing Editor
Affordable, accessible meetings in the heart of the Northeast
In a vibrant downtown currently in the midst of a renaissance, the Connecticut Convention Center is earning accolades for its affordability, flexibility, and impressive spaces. Beyond being the centerpiece of an ideal meeting destination - Hartford is a historic city at the epicenter of the largest population base in the country - the purpose-built convention center is at the heart of a region renowned for its natural beauty, history, and charm.
The Connecticut Convention Center is the Northeast's newest, most ideal location for trade shows, conventions, business meetings, or any occasion that demands flexible space and a dramatic riverfront setting. Overlooking the Connecticut River at Adriaen's Landing, Hartford's new riverfront entertainment district, the convention center offers more than 140,000 square feet of exhibition space, 25,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom. And besides being the largest convention center between New York and Boston, the facility is within a two-and-a-half-hour drive for more than 23 million people.
A dramatic 110-foot glass atrium and tree-lined riverfront esplanade set the scene for spectacular entrances at the convention center. And whether it's the in-house, award-winning food-and-beverage team or state-of-the-art audiovisual services, the facility has taken every aspect of hosting a successful event into consideration. In addition, meeting in Hartford can be significantly more cost-effective when compared to other cities in the Northeast. The facility's work rules allow exhibitors to carry or wheel equipment in on two wheels as well as set up their own booths.
Besides the convention center's on-site, AAA Four-Diamond Marriott Hartford Downtown, which offers 409 guest rooms and 13,500 square feet of meeting space, there are a number of first-rate accommodations nearby. Meeting attendees will find 1,600 hotel rooms within downtown Hartford and 6,500 total hotel rooms within a 30-mile radius. The convention center is easily accessible by rail, bus, car, and plane. Hartford's recently expanded Bradley International Airport is just 15 miles from the convention center, and the region's crossroads of Interstates 84 and 91 are both a few blocks away. The Star Shuttle -New England's first eco-friendly, biodiesel bus - offers free public transportation throughout Hartford, and the Bradley Flyer provides economical, semi-express bus service from the airport to downtown Hartford.
At Adriaen's Landing District, connected by footbridge to the convention center, attendees can explore a variety of attractions, including the Connecticut Science Center, which includes interactive, educational games and a 3-D movie theater. Attendees looking for dining and entertainment can peruse Front Street, a nostalgic reference to Hartford's bustling riverfront that existed in the late-1800s through the 1950s. Spotlight Theatres, one of Front Street's newest attractions, offers a luxury movie experience with stadium seating and an on-site restaurant, while other diversions include the Riverfront Plaza and Wadsworth Atheneum, featuring works by Monet, Picasso, Dali, Whistler, and other artists. Front Street is also the future home of the Infinity Music Hall and Bistro, a 600-seat live music and restaurant venue, as well as the Capital Grille's second Connecticut location.
Popular local historical sites in Hartford include the Mark Twain House & Museum and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, and the Hartford Stage and Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts offer world-class entertainment for arts enthusiasts. In downtown, locally owned shops, boutiques, and restaurants offer a smorgasbord of retail and culinary indulgences to satisfy every appetite. With local culture and history around every corner, as well as attractions for every interest, the Connecticut Convention Center offers the ultimate backdrop for mixing business with pleasure.
For more information: Connecticut Convention Center - (860) 249-6000; ctcon-ventions.com
Connecticut Convention Center Highlights
• Built in 2005, the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford is the Northeast's newest convention center as well as the largest convention center between New York and Boston.
• The riverfront facility offers 140,000 square feet of exhibition space, 25,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, and a 40,000-square- foot ballroom.
• More than 23 million people live within a two- and-a-half-hour drive from Hartford.
• Connecticut is ranked in the top 10 for its major highways and accessibility to its capital city, Hartford, which was recently ranked No. 13 on Prevention magazine's “25 Best cities for Walking” list.
Convention Center Specs
• 540,000 square feet
• 140,000 square feet
• 20, with two direct drive-in bays
• 40,000 square feet
• 25,000 square feet
• 3,949 total spaces, including an attached, 2,600-space garage
Number of attached hotel rooms
• 409, at the Marriott Hartford Downtown
• Hotel rooms within 30 miles of Hartford: 6,500