Our Guide to running an event in Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires

Posted on Posted in Conferences, Green

Having been based in Oxfordshire since 1996 and planned countless events even before that, we’re very experienced at organising events in and around Oxford’s city centre.

Oxford has incredible charm and is associated with many hundreds of years of revolutionary research due to it association with the University of Oxford. Therefore, having a conference in Oxford comes with an element of prestige and kudos, regardless of industry.

However, due to Oxford’s size, vibrant history and associated architecture, holding an event in the city can be hard to navigate unless you know what you’re doing. At Archer Yates we can help with organising your Oxford based event and we have share some of our key learnings below…

1. Understand the University of Oxford’s structure (as much as you can!)

Many of the venues in the city centre are part of the University. However, unlike many other cities, the University of Oxford has no central campus. Instead, it is made up of 38 colleges and a vast number of department buildings spread out all across the city. Thankfully, you don’t have to contact every college or department separately. We’ve worked closely with Conference Oxford, a central enquiry point for University of Oxford venues, for a number of years and they do an excellent job fielding enquiries to 65 (and growing) suitable University venues.

2. Accept that your event is unlikely to all be in one place.

Due to the venues and colleges varying in size and what they can offer, you won’t get the same experience as booking an all-in-one hotel and conference centre in another city. But that doesn’t have to be a negative. We often use this to our advantage and many of our clients like to actively host elements of their event in different venues to get a full Oxford experience.

3. Don’t ignore the “Town”.

Many people are focused on the “Gown” element of Oxford but there’s plenty of non-University things to experience in the city. In the past we’ve had dinner at a micro-brewery just outside the centre, booked excellent independent restaurants and arranged unusual spaces for receptions.

4. Be mindful of the time of year.

As many of the venues in the city are part of the University, this means that availability is limited during term time. Thankfully though, Oxford has shorter term times compared to other cities meaning more availability than other academic venues.

5. Transport is key.

Very rarely will you find an Oxford-based venue with parking, but this doesn’t mean delegates will struggle to attend your event. Oxford is well connected with buses around the city and to most of London’s airports, has a well linked train station and popular Park and Ride system for those who travel by car. The benefit is that your event has the potential to be more sustainable and contributes to the city’s long-term plan of becoming a Zero Emission Zone.