Heading back to work after the labour day weekend is hard. It’s difficult to say good-bye to summer long weekends filled with sunshine and fresh air, and even the prospect of wearing socks with shoes again can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, as with any other time of year, there are many things to be grateful for. Cozy nights cuddled up with loved ones. Comfort foods like hearty soups and stews. Trees that become a kaleidoscope of colours. But of course, the most salient is sending the kids back-to-school! In honour of the elation some people are feeling right now, we thought it would be a perfect time to take you back-to-school by outlining some of the amazing venues available to rent for meetings, workshops and other special events at educational institutions throughout BC. Here’s a list of our top 10 back-to-school venues.

For meetings, conferences, workshops, training sessions…


#1 SFU Harbour Centre

When the centre was built in the late 80’s, it symbolized a new era in post-secondary education because it was BC’s first urban campus. Today, it remains an iconic symbol of Vancouver’s skyline and with a variety of meeting spaces available to accommodate a range of budgets, the space works for groups from 10 – 200 people.

Location: Vancouver, Downtown


#2 The Goldcorp Centre for the Arts

Located in the Woodwards building, a transformative neighbourhood project and home to SFU’s School of Contemporary Arts, the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts is a perfect option for organizers looking for a more distinct, artistic ambiance.  With flexible meeting space studios and a large state-of-the-art theatre, the venue works well for groups up to 350 people.

Location: Vancouver, Gastown


#3 The Segal Building

Home to SFU’s Segal Graduate School of Business, this historic building is an example of old-world architecture blended with modern day technologies. Originally built in 1916 as the headquarters for the Bank of Montreal, the space was carefully restored to it’s former glory and designed to enhance meeting productivity and host exceptional events. With flexible reception space and meeting rooms, groups of up to 300 people can be accommodated.

Location: Vancouver, Downtown


#4 UBC Robson Square

UBC Robson Square is the hub of UBC’s adult education program and also their Sauder School of Business seminars. In the winter time, the square transforms into a holiday zone with festive lights surrounding an outdoor skating rink. The facility has a number of spaces available to compliment your event goals and desired set-ups.

Location: Vancouver, Downtown


#5 The Library Square Conference Centre

No back-to-school venue overview would be complete without a library on the list. One of the largest capital projects ever undertaken by the City of Vancouver, Library Square is a breathtaking architectural gem designed by Moshe Safdie and DA Architects. The Conference Centre has over 12,000 square feet of meeting space suitable for meetings or events up to 700 people and revenue from the rental of these spaces help fund the library’s services and educational programming.

Location: Vancouver, Downtown


#6 TRU Conference Centre

The Conference Centre at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops has over 30,000 square feet of meeting and convention space designed with comfort and convenience in mind. Accommodating groups up to 1,000 people they have 11 meeting and function rooms as well as a theatre, a garden for special events and on-site accommodations.

Location: Kamloops, BC


For special events…


#7 John M.S Lecky UBC Boathouse

OK to be honest, this isn’t located on a post-secondary campus or even inside an educational institution but it is home to the UBC Thunderbirds rowing program so I thought it was worth including. It’s a stone’s throw away from the Vancouver International Airport making it a convenient venue for out of town guests. A truly amazing waterside venue with unobstructed views of the North Shore mountains, floor to ceiling windows, a spacious outdoor patio and deck, and a unique, contemporary building exterior. Perfect for special affairs like receptions, weddings, parties and celebrations for up to 150 people seated or 190 reception style.

Location: Richmond, BC


#8 UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research

Get ready to step into an oasis of beauty, greenery and nature. With a number of amazing outdoor event locations including an outdoor amphitheatre and a gorgeous wooden arbor covered in vines, the UBC Botanical Garden is a Vancouver wedding staple but is also appropriate for any outdoor event where the setting should be centre-stage. Also, available are 2 indoor spaces accommodating groups of 50 – 100 people seated. The best part about hosting an event here is knowing that your dollars are going towards their botanical research, conservations and education programs.

Location: Vancouver, West Point Grey

For team buildings and other interactive experiences…


#9 Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

PICA is so much more than a school providing professional culinary training programs. It is a perfect venue or activity for any group with a passion for food. Offering a number of culinary team building and interactive cooking experiences for small and medium-sized groups alike, this venue is sure to create lasting memories for your group. Iron Chef challenges, cooking classes, and tastings are all great options for a group looking to have a little fun outside the office. It’s also a great off-site activity for conference groups.

Location: Vancouver, Granville Island


#10 Quince Studio

Putting a new spin on the term “kitchen party”, the Quince team reinvents the traditional cooking class experience by pairing it with wines and a fun, stylish and unpretentious approach to food preparation. A great way to celebrate a team, an occasion, a corporate milestone or to simply augment corporate culture, the experience gives guests the opportunity to work together in a different way, while enjoying culinary education, plenty of yummy food and even some libations.

Location: Vancouver, Armoury District


Bonus: The Dirty Apron Cooking School

A culinary playground for amateur cooks, curious foodies and seasoned chefs. An environment for learning, exploration and unleashing your inner David Hawksworth. The classes are hands-on and designed to walk large groups through each step towards crafting a complete meal. Instruction focuses mostly on classic French cuisine as well as popular regional dishes and themes. Our mouthes are watering just thinking about this venue.

Location: Vancouver, Stadium/Gastown


Sage Advice

Many venues located in educational institutions or run by post-secondary institutions offer discounted or complimentary room rental rates for community groups, not-for-profits, and other cause-based organizations. Be sure to ask the venue sales manager because it could save you hundreds of dollars. Eventsage.com is a FREE website to help you book great venues like these with the click of a button. Try it out now!


Tara Boddington

Tara Boddington

With a decade of experience planning corporate and promotional events for top brands as well as sponsorship activations at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and 2010 FIFA World Cup, I have a passion for transformative environments and experiences. I want to live in a world where emails are short, obsessive attention to detail is seen as an asset not an annoyance, and libraries are cool places to hang out (yes I like to read actual hard copy books). I am also the Director of Sales and Marketing at Eventsage.

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