The best conference venues in Canberra

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table setting with a view overlooking Thoroughbred Park

The Rich Reward room at Thoroughbred Park is perfect for all events including awards dinners, fundraising lunches or weddings. Photo: Thoroughbred Park.

As our nation’s capital, Canberra is the place where many key economical sectors call home. As an inspiring place to conduct business, our capital provides unparalleled access to world-class thinking. Be it government, capital enterprise or the arts, science, and education, this coming together of minds is no mistake.

Coined from the Indigenous word Kambera or ‘meeting place’, Canberra has long been a popular setting for corporate gatherings. Today, the region hosts a broad range of industry-based conferences, key seasonal events, and conventions of all sizes.

Whether you’re a business owner, corporate marketer, or enterprise assistant, your conference needs can all be readily met in Canberra. With an abundance of world-class facilities, each as unique as the next, sometimes the hardest thing is knowing where to start. Thankfully our handy guide is here to get you started!

What makes a great conference venue?

A great conference venue essentially comes down to how its considerations suit your specific requirements. To help with this assessment, we suggest reflecting on the following:

  • Finesse. While any conference venue can execute an event, what separates the best is their level of finesse. From the first initial enquiry to departure on the day, the best venues present unwavering standards of pure polished professionalism. Here, dedicated events teams are a given, along with experienced event managers. Importantly, consider a venue’s reputation, and their experience in managing conferences of a similar scale and style to yours.
  • Function. While overall size does matter, consider how each can work for you. The best conference venues tick all the boxes in terms of facilities and amenities. Whether you need a theatre, lounge, boardroom, or gala space, each are readily available. The same goes for onsite catering, waitstaff, technical support, and security. Also consider how your conference may progress throughout the day and how your guests would flow from one space to another. Finally, consider accessibility, making note of centrality, available onsite parking, and proximity to public transport links.
  • Form. After function comes form; or the way a space looks and feels. And, as every venue is unique, so too is its ambience and overall mood. Finding a unique venue can help to make your conference memorable, whilst fuelling event energy at the same time. Hence, consider the nature of your event, your guests, and your brand, and ensure your choice of venue reflects it.
  • Flexibility. While overall size does matter, a key attribute of any great conference venue is the flexibility of available space. Be it a morning of meetings or an all-day social extravaganza, the best venues offer a variety of spaces. Looking beyond board rooms, great conference venues present varied spaces with multiple configurations. From standing cocktails to cabaret seating, consider how each matches need. Moreover, assess flexibility around dates and times, and whether a venue offers its services accordingly.
  • Fine print. Contract clarity and pricing is crucial for anyone seeking to secure a conference booking. Hosting a conference is a large ticket item for many businesses, and extracting maximum value from the booking is key. Hence, clear expectations surrounding inclusions and service levels must be agreed upon by both parties. Additionally, review contingency plans in the event of misadventure, and seek assurance of quality for added peace of mind.

The best conference venues in Canberra

Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and maintain a minimum average of 4/5 stars on both Google and Facebook reviews.

Canberra Southern Cross Club

The Canberra Southern Cross Club specialises in successful conferences and business events at its conveniently located Woden, Tuggeranong, Jamison and Yacht Club venues. Half-day and full-day conference packages are available.

A professional, highly qualified and dedicated functions and events team, with over 40 years’ experience, supports clients to plan and deliver tailored events.

Versatile function rooms accommodate small seminars, planning days, business meetings and large conferences. Room set up is easy, whether Theatre, Cabaret, Boardroom, Classroom or Ushape style.

conference venue space

Canberra Southern Cross Club has many spaces fit for various events, across their 4 venues. Photo: Canberra Southern Cross Club.

Function rooms include Woden’s Corinna Ballroom, which caters for up to 500 people for a cabaret style function, and 1,000 for a theatre event. The Private Dining Room suits intimate gatherings. At Tuggeranong, the Brindabella Room accommodates up to 80 guests for a cabaret style. The outdoor balcony is perfect for post-event canapes and drinks. Jamison’s Catchpole Room offers a split-level design and full-length windows. Yacht Club water and sunset views are memorable.

The Canberra Southern Cross Club’s award-winning chefs have created affordable, creative conference packages. Menus are tailored to specific event requirements and accommodate special dietary requirements.

All Canberra Southern Cross Club venues offer audio, visual and lighting services. Parking is free. Venues are located close to public transport.

TJ wrote on Google, “Great conference room with seating for 1000. Easy parking due to the shopping centre.”

Thoroughbred Park

With a legacy that spans back to the 1960’s, Thoroughbred Park has been synonymous within the local community for over half a century. Having hosted countless Australian prime ministers, global dignitaries, and the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, they know a thing or two about hosting an event to be remembered.

Home to the Canberra Racing Club, the impressive Lyneham based venue is also a premier venue for conferences and corporate events alike. Nestled within a tranquil park setting with stunning views of the Brindabella and Majura mountain ranges, Thoroughbred Park offers a beautiful blend of versatile in and outdoor spaces designed to surprise and delight guests.

Catering from intimate corporate gatherings all the way to large exhibitions of up to 2,000 guests, Thoroughbred Park offers a space for every need. The social owners and trainers lounge presents a modern and sophisticated space for up to 150 guests.

To capitalise on the view, and Silks and Rich Reward rooms boast floor to ceiling windows and are the ideal space for theatre, cabaret, cocktail, or banquet style meets. And, for those with larger groups, the Winnings Post Bar and Exhibition Pavilion house 500 or 2,000 guests respectively.

As for catering, their in-house chef offers an extensive delegates menu with a curated selection of meals to nourish and fulfill guests. Encompassing morning and afternoon tea, and lunch, all dietary requirements are catered to. Moreover, with a variety of flexible layouts, quiet rooms for preparation, and AV technology, Thoroughbred Park offers all the necessary facilities to ensure event success.

Located a mere five minutes from the city centre and with plenty of complimentary onsite parking in a secluded and secure setting, Thoroughbred Park stands as one of Canberra’s best conference venues.

Dianne Blakey shared this glowing review on Google, “Was there for a function and the food and service was pretty good. The atmosphere was lovely, and the staff were very helpful.”

Rydges Canberra

Well known throughout the region, Rydges Canberra offers an attractive event proposition coupling opulent accommodation with comprehensive conference capabilities. With 186 well-appointed guest suites, and a long list of hotel facilities it is the perfect place for conference and overnight stay.

Featuring eleven stunning event spaces, Rydges Canberra caters to many conference styles and sizes. From executive boardrooms and break-out rooms for intimate discussion through to fluid purpose-built function spaces for up to 200 guests it does it all.

Their team of experienced meeting and event planners assist clients in the careful organisation and precise execution of conference components. Moreover, the venue’s support services include audio and visual technology, complimentary high-speed Wi-fi, and a dedicated conference line.

Moreover, Rydges Canberra appreciate that great conferences are supported by great good. With specialised event menus designed by the Executive Chef, culinary creations can be crafted to suit any budget or occasion. For innovative conference solutions in a class of their own look to Rydges Canberra.

Lester DSouza shared the following on Google, "Stayed here for a conference. The staff are extremely efficient, accommodating and friendly."

The Marion

Perfectly poised on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin, The Marion offers a premium canvas for any corporate event. From cocktail parties and product launches to conferences and gala events, this luxury establishment is known for its breathtaking views and delectable dining.

With an inside capacity of 160 seated or 250 standing guests plus an all-weather terrace for up to 80, The Marion boasts state of the art technical facilities and first-class dining. Located within a convenient 10-minute drive from the City Centre they are an excellent choice.

As Ian Urquhart stated on Google, “Fantastic location, great quiet atmosphere with excellent service and delicious food.”

The National Museum of Australia

With its stunning architecture and location, the National Museum of Australia is a unique venue choice for both conferences and corporate events. With eight impressive, character-filled spaces it caters to groups from 60 all the way through to 1,600.

The museum's conference facilities are equipped with modern technology extending to audio, staging, and lighting, and presents numerous seating and standing arrangements for guests. With exclusive catering services and flexible hire, it is an idea venue for conferences great and small.

Glen Thompson shared this insight on Google, “I was here for a corporate event hosted in one of the museum's event spaces. The facilities were fit for purpose, and they provided food and drink were good quality and plentiful.”

National Convention Centre

As the capital’s largest purpose-built event facility, the National Convention Centre is a popular choice for conferences. Boasting fifteen flexible and adaptable spaces set across a staggering 8,200 square metre footprint, this multi-award-winning venue offers unrivalled space and size.

Catering up to 4,000 delegates the centre boasts numerous theatres, ballroom spaces, foyers, and dedicated rooms servicing the needs of exhibitors to executives alike. With world class virtual and hybrid facilities, a professional management team, and impeccable catering it is one of Canberra’s best.

Michael Barry had this to say on Google, “I attended a convention here for 3 days. Excellent acoustics in the theatre rooms, comfortable seats with fold-up notebook-rests in the theatrettes. Catering (morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea) was fantastic.”

For more event spaces see our articles on the best function venues, the best wedding venues, and the best Christmas party venues that Canberra has to offer.

Your experience with conference venues in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the conferenced venues listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of conference spaces are available for events?

The list of possibilities is long! There are many types of venues suitable for conferences, which is best ultimate depends on the nature and size of your event. Spaces include dedicated event venues, function centres, sporting facilities, hotels, restaurants, and museums to name a few.

Do conference venues provide catering?

Most certainly! Dedicated catering solutions tailored to the needs of hosts and their delegates is a huge advantage that comes with hosting your conference at a dedicated facility. Carefully constructed and fully flexible, most venues can cater for all manner of dining occasions from buffet breakfasts and power lunches through to canapes and degustation dinners. For more information contact your local conference venue.

How much does a conference venue cost?

Venue costs depend on the nature of event, it’s time and date, the number of delegates, and selected inclusions. Generally, costs are comprised of a hire fee, catering, and incidentals for extras to stage the event. For a full day Canberra based conference expect to pay from $80 to upwards of $120 per person, dependant on requirements. This cost per head number can be adjusted to suit most budgets so contact your local conference venue to find out more.

Do minimum spends apply to conference venue bookings?

Most conference venues operate toward a minimum spend, which is typically informed by the length of room hire and guest capacity. In some instances, the hire fee acts as the minimum, however often a minimum spend is calculated on a per person basis. For detailed pricing contact your conference venue of choice.

How far in advance should I book a conference venue?

Ideally your conference venue should be booked as far in advance as possible. Most event planners request a minimum lead time of 90 days, however larger events and those falling in busy periods may wish to secure their venues sooner.

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