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Your guide to hosting business events in Lille

Lille business events

Most of us have passed through Lille on the Eurostar, often overlooking it as we rush towards the more prominent destinations of Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam. However, there’s a growing realisation that second-tier cities can offer a far more authentic and memorable event experience. Not only do they provide a richer cultural legacy, but they are also often more budget-friendly. Choosing a lesser-known location like Lille for your next event could be the key to delivering a unique and impactful experience that truly stands out.

Why Lille for events

Lille makes a great choice for business events due to its unique blend of historical richness, modern infrastructure and vibrant cultural scene. Located within easy reach from major European cities, Lille offers convenience without the crowds, making it ideal for combining business with leisure. The city boasts world-class event venues such as Le 1894 and Lille Grand Palais, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and flexible spaces to accommodate any gathering. Beyond business, Lille’s culinary delights add a flavorful touch to any itinerary. Whether you’re planning a conference or incentive trip, Lille promises a memorable experience with its charm, accessibility and diverse offerings.

The Look & Feel

Lille is a city where the past and future seamlessly blend, offering a unique and vibrant atmosphere. Picture this: cobblestone streets lined with tall, gabled townhouses, each telling a story of the city’s rich Flemish heritage. These streets lead you to atmospheric old convents, a 17th-century citadel designed by Vauban and charming squares that echo with history. The architecture is a glorious mix of medieval, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, creating a visual feast for anyone strolling through the city.

But Lille isn’t just about its historical charm. The city has a youthful, metropolitan feel, thanks to its rejuvenation and modern developments. The arrival of the high-speed rail in the early 1990s marked a new era for Lille, leading to the construction of the sleek Lille-Europe train station and revitalising the city’s image. Today, Lille boasts contemporary art installations, innovative public spaces and cutting-edge facilities that sit comfortably alongside its historical treasures.

The Vibe

As a thriving cultural hub in northern France, Lille attracts a diverse population of students, professionals and creatives, contributing to its vibrant atmosphere. The city’s historic architecture, including Flemish-inspired buildings and grand squares, coexists with contemporary developments like stylish cafes, trendy boutiques and innovative cultural spaces and event venues. Lille’s youthful spirit is evident in its bustling streets lined with vibrant markets, lively bars and eclectic venue options. There’s also a rich cultural calendar that you can also tap into. Our trip coincided the Fête de la musique (world music day on 21st June and highly recommended) which sees the streets filled with people enjoying concerts throughout the city in different styles, from rock to jazz, French song and electro. 

Sustainable Initiatives

Alongside the history of Lille, what’s most remarkable about the city today is how it’s revived and reinvented itself, with much of its rejuvenation kickstarted by the arrival of high speed rail. Since the building of the sleek Lille-Europe train station in the early 1990s, Lille has become spruced up and reinvigorated.  The city’s central location in Europe makes it easily accessible by train, reducing the need for air travel and lowering carbon emissions. The efficient public transportation network within the city further encourages sustainable travel options for attendees. Conveniently located, Lille is just 80 minutes from London, 60 minutes from Paris and 35 minutes from Brussels, making it ideal for combining day trips to these larger cities or creating a dual-destination event.

Getting around Lille sustainably is a breeze thanks to its compact, pedestrian-friendly layout and efficient public transport options. The city center is easy to navigate on foot, and if you prefer a quicker ride, Lille offers a modern tram and metro system that can whisk you around town with ease. For a unique and eco-friendly experience, hop on one of Lille’s electric trishaw-taxis, which provide guided tours of the city with commentary on its history, politics, dining and shopping hotspots. Alternatively, hire a Segway and glide gently through Lille’s main sights, enjoying the fresh air and the convenience of this two-wheeled electric ride. Whether walking, riding the metro or using innovative electric transport, exploring Lille sustainably is both easy and enjoyable.

Venues & Spaces

The residents of Lille , called Ch’tis after the local dialect, have become adept at finding new uses for historic buildings. They’ve transformed a medieval hospital into a hotel, a textile mill into an arts center, and even a recycled swimming pool into a museum, all alongside cutting-edge contemporary venues. Here are some of our favorites:

Le 1894

Located on the Institut Pasteur de Lille campus, Le 1894 is the city’s fresh new event space since April 2024. This modern venue blends contemporary design with top-notch functionality, right in the heart of Lille. It offers three versatile spaces: a light-filled Pavilion for up to 400 cocktail guests, a high-tech amphitheater for 400, and a rooftop with a weather-adaptive pergola perfect for intimate gatherings. The Pavilion and amphitheater can be combined to host up to 800 attendees. Plus, you can enhance your event with museum tours or engaging talks by scientists.

Lille Grand Palais

Standing out as a premier event venue in France, Lille Grand Palais centrally located within Lille Metropolis and established in 1994 draws in over a million visitors annually and hosts more than 300 events. Here’s the breakdown: The venue comprises three main buildings – the congress center, Zénith Arena (hosting internationally renowned events such as concerts and congresses) and an exhibition hall complex. Together, they offer a total of 38 versatile meeting spaces. This includes 4 auditoriums and 4 exhibition halls, along with 2 modular spaces and 28 committee rooms. What’s great is the flexibility. Whether you need a large space that can be combined or smaller, more intimate settings, Lille Grand Palais has the options to suit any event, from conferences to exhibitions and beyond.

Hotels & Accommodation

Hotel Barrière

Perched right behind the Eurostar station, with lush gardens shielding the railway lines, you’ll find the five-star Hotel Barrière, a sleek mix of glass and chrome that screams, “Lille is more than just charming streets and cafes—it’s a major European hotspot!” This place has it all: 142 rooms and suites, a swanky wellness center, 7 meeting rooms, 2 top-notch restaurants, 3 bars, and even a casino. During our stay in an entry-level room, we were treated to floor-to-ceiling views of the parkland (other rooms offer views of the city turrets), and let me tell you, the space was impressive! A king-sized bed, walk-in wardrobe, ample seating areas and a large shower stocked with spa-quality toiletries. The suites are even more impressive, featuring chaise longues perfectly positioned to enjoy the stunning views. It’s a far cry from the cramped spaces often found in Parisian hotels. In addition to the meeting rooms, the hotel boasts an incredible theatre with 1200 seats, ideal for hosting a wide range of events from conferences to gala dinners. State-of-the-art audiovisual technology can be tailored to meet specific event needs, ensuring seamless presentations and memorable meetings.

Grand Hotel Bellevue

Location is everything at this hotel. Situated facing Lille’s Grand Place, it boasts 60 rooms furnished in Louis XV style, with 15 offering views overlooking the lively square (and we can vouch for the soundproofing!). A newly opened rooftop bar in 2024 provides panoramic views over the rooftops, complimented by a charming indoor space ideal for small meetings. The hotel’s proximity is unbeatable: just a minute’s walk to Rihour metro station and two minutes to Place Neuve with its array of high street shops. The charming cobbled streets, boutique shops, and restaurants of Vieux Lille are only a five-minute stroll away. For Eurostar travellers, Lille Europe terminal is conveniently located within a 15-minute walk from the hotel.

L’Hermitage Gantois

Part of the Autograph Collection, L’Hermitage Gantois boasts a rich history dating back to the 15th century when it served as a charity hospice. Now Lille’s first five-star hotel, it features a stunning old Flemish-style building with a magnificent stained glass window, a preserved 15th-century hospice room, and a beautiful 17th-century chapel. Modern art pieces compliment the historical charm, set amidst expansive courtyards and a glass canopy. The hotel has 2 restaurants serving local food and a spa, blending old-world elegance with contemporary comforts. Striking Flemish steeped roofs add to its impressive ambiance. For events, there are 7 areas ranging from 20 to 200 m², perfect for gatherings of 10 to 300 people. The 89 rooms overlook tranquil courtyard gardens, maintaining a sense of monastic calm. Rooms feature oak-paneled walls, with six former monks’ cells elegantly transformed, marked by their names on original wooden doors.

What to do – take a food tour

Let’s talk food. Lille is often dubbed “The French Capital of Flemish Food,” preserving a rich tradition of fine cuisine with countless great restaurants. You’ll find dining options on every corner, from high-end dining at Mesa with rooftop views, Michelin-starred spots like Le Cerisier to cozy French brasseries and bistros like Reveille for brunch and Aux Moules de Lille for mussels. And of course, we can’t forget the pastries! Essential dishes to try in Lille include:

  • ‘Le Welsh’ is Lille’s number one local specialty, inspired by Welsh Rarebit but with a distinctive French twist. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with Wales. This decadent dish features beer-soaked bread, ham and plenty of gooey melted cheese flavored with mustard, then baked until golden and bubbly. Served in a cast-iron pan, it’s perfect for sharing, and don’t forget to include a salad on the side, unless you want to spend the afternoon in a cheese coma!
  • Waffles are incredibly popular in Lille and the best place to try them is Méert, a stunning pastry shop that dates back to 1761 and has been frequented by King Léopold I and Charles de Gaulle. The specialty here is the iconic “gaufres,” thin and chewy waffles filled with a creamy, sweet filling. Options include Madagascan vanilla or seasonal ingredients such as rum raisin, speculoos cream, blackberry or Szechuan pepper. Due to high demand, they make over 1,000 waffles a day. The tea room, featuring 18th and 19th-century and Louis XVI décor, is guaranteed to impress your group. Additionally, there’s a museum downstairs where you can enjoy a private tour and tastings.
  • If you’re in Lille, you have to try the Merveilleux, a traditional cake from the North of France and Flanders. Imagine airy, melt-in-the-mouth meringue coated in flavoured whipped cream and covered with chocolate or other tasty toppings. The best spot is Aux Merveilleux de Fred, where you can watch these pastries being handmade using traditional local methods. Even better, go behind the scenes with a private tour. Learn the history and techniques, then enjoy a tasting session. For a unique group activity, organise a workshop to make your own Merveilleux under expert guidance. It’s a fun, hands-on experience perfect for team-building. And before you leave, grab a pack of six Merveilleux to take home—if they make it back without being devoured!
  • Craft Beers: Lille’s Flemish heritage has fostered a thriving beer culture, making craft beer more popular than wine. To experience this firsthand, start your journey at the Micro Brewery Hopi. Here, you can enjoy an excellent selection of beers brewed on-site. This brewery also serves as the starting point for a unique Treasure Hunt, combining city discovery with local tastings; a perfect team-building activity for incentive groups. Must try is the Blanche de Lille white beer.
  • Two sustainable dining options in Lille are 2 Sous de Table, a charming brasserie offering organic, seasonal, and locally sourced dishes for all dietary preferences including vegetarian and vegas, and Café Citoyen, a cooperative near the Palais des Beaux Arts that serves Fair Trade and organic food and drink while promoting environmental and social discussions over talks and concerts.

 10 Unique Incentive Activities in Lille

  1. Treasure Hunt at Micro Brewery Hopi: Discover the city through a treasure hunt that combines city exploration with local craft beer tastings.
  2. Cooking Class : Learn to prepare traditional French dishes with a local chef in a hands-on cooking class.
  3. Guided Electric Trishaw Tour: Explore Lille’s historic and modern sights in an eco-friendly trishaw taxi, complete with commentary and insider tips.
  4. Private Tour and Tasting at Aux Merveilleux de Fred: Go behind the scenes to see how Merveilleux pastries are made and enjoy a tasting session of various flavours.
  5. River Cruise: Escape the town with the hire of private boat to cruise down the River Deûle, taking in views of the city’s historic landmarks along the way.
  6. A night at the Opera: Watch a world-class production at the beautiful Opera House in the heart of Lille, followed by a behind-the-scenes tour.
  7. Team-Building Escape Room: Challenge your team with a thrilling escape room experience where collaboration and problem-solving skills are put to the test.
  8. Sustainable Gastronomy Tour: Embark on a food tour featuring Lille’s sustainable restaurants tasting locally sourced delicacies.
  9. Private Tour of La Piscine Museum: Enjoy a private tour of the art and industry museum housed in a stunning Art Deco former swimming pool in nearby Roubaix.
  10. Vintage Car Rally: Organise a rally through the streets of Lille in classic 2CV cars, with fun challenges and stops at key historical and cultural landmarks.

How to Get There

It’s easy to travel by train to Lille with regular Eurostar trains leaving London daily, taking you from city centre to city centre. There are also numerous rail connections across Europe. 

Please note, there are two train stations in Lille, Lille-Flandres and Lille Europe – but if go to the wrong one, don’t panic! They’re both within a ten minute walk of one another.

Whether you’re hosting a conference at the state-of-the-art venues like Le 1894 or Lille Grand Palais, or indulging in local delicacies during a food tour, Lille promises an unforgettable experience. Interested in learning more about hosting business events or incentive trips in Lille? Let us help you organise your event in Lille.

Reach out to theEvolve Events teamtoday. We possess the experience and local knowledge to assist you with venue finding, activities and logistics to create unforgettable experiences.

TEL : 020 7610 2808 – EMAIL :