Lviv’s business events community in Ukraine transforms challenges into solutions amidst war’s impact. Humanitarian hubs, charitable initiatives, and innovation mark their response. Noteworthy are hotels turned shelters, IT companies aiding modernisation, and Lviv’s commitment to building connections.
Winning titles like European Youth Capital 2025 and hosting international conferences despite adversity, illustrates the city’s unyielding spirit. From rehabilitation forums to urban planning dialogues, the city harnesses its legacy from the meetings it hosts.
Yuliia Katynska, Deputy Director of Lviv Convention Bureau, explains why the glass is half full, not half empty: “We are already planning for post-war business recovery and our strategy for restoring business events. We are talking with our partners on communicating correctly so that conventions and congresses will return to us. Every business now holds its front line, but the war will end. And Lviv will be ready to welcome back international meeting organisers and delegates.”
Anna Petrova, Owner of MMP Forums and BTL Group: “I think that as soon as it’s possible to host groups, and as soon as it’s possible to host exhibitions, conferences, congresses, there will be a boom. I’m sure of it. We only have to be strong.”
Together in Peace, Unbroken in War Indeed, Ukraine’s indefatigable spirit among its business events community has kept morale up and the horizon optimistic. When the war started, Ukrainian PCO Global Events, which usually organises festivals and conferences, started humanitarian hubs and collected essentials for those in need. Other PCO’s organised logistics near borders and railway stations, and local institutions collected money for humanitarian aid. They all acted as ready volunteers, making the city the biggest volunteer hub in Ukraine.
Catering companies and restaurants worked with charities to distribute food. One of them, Fest Catering Company, together with the international World Central Kitchen, fed almost 35,000 people a day in Lviv.
Hotels opened their rooms to the displaced, while restaurants prepared food for defence forces. In fact, two new hotels opened in the city during the war. One is Best Western Market Square, and the second is Emily Resort and Spa. Their bars and cellars have become bomb shelters for civilians.
The Leopolis Hotel Lviv provided rooms and meeting space for foreign volunteers in addition to providing shelter for people from Kyiv and the eastern regions. In the basement, where there used to be a cigar room, is now a storage area with thermos flasks, generators, rechargeable lamps, and candles. The hotel, which has been operating for 15 years and completed a major renovation just before the war started, has initiated the “Joy of Play” project, together with Finnish companies and individuals, to build children’s playgrounds in Lviv and Kyiv. The hotel management will supervise the Lviv project on-site, as the hotel is next to a school.
Over the years, Ukraine’s leading IT companies have expanded from the basics of software development to higher-value work like systems architecture, business analysis and experience design. Before the war, the country’s rapidly growing IT industry saw exports grow by 20.4 per cent in 2020, according to National Bank of Ukraine figures. Putting their expertise to critical use now, the Lviv IT Cluster, a community of IT companies in Ukraine, helped modernise the command and reporting centres of the Air Command West and started a Mental Health Center for veterans and internally displaced people.
Arena Lviv Stadium, one of the largest venues in the city, hosted many various events until February 2022. Today, it has morphed into a humanitarian volunteer hub for displaced people. More than 25,000 people have passed through the arena, and Arena Lviv employees now help orient refugees and volunteers and familiarise them with their new surroundings. Arena Catering, which once served football matches, assists with food delivery around the clock.
During the war, the Lviv National Opera resumed work, prepared premieres, and organised events as fundraisers for humanitarian aid.
Lviv’s Honorary Conference Ambassador, professional dentist Dr Myron Uhryn, started mobile dental clinics for soldiers and conducted maxillofacial surgeries. And Lviv Tourism Office transformed its office into a media centre at the beginning of the war, and then helped create shelters and humanitarian hubs, and organised charitable events to collect money for Ukraine.
In November 2022, the city won the European Youth Capital 2025 title. A jury awarded Lviv the honour in recognition of the city’s plan, which encouraged young people to stay in Ukraine, return those who fled the country, and build connections between the young people in Ukraine and the rest of Europe. European Youth Forum Board Member Tom Matthew commented: “Despite the challenges, Lviv introduced a detailed plan full of hope and aspiration.”
Another competitive bid secured by Lviv when the country was at war, was the 6th International Conference UNESCO Historic Cities, Heritage of Peace, which will take place in 2025. The old part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site with the most significant architectural monuments in Ukraine. Oresta Remeshylo-Rybczynska, PhD, Associate professor, Architect ICOMOS (International Council of Monument and Sites) and Rotary International member, presented the city at the last conference in Siena, Italy, in April. Other upcoming international conferences booked for Lviv are listed below.
Meetings and Legacies In April, the city hosted the International Rehabilitation Forum as a follow-up convention to a similar one a year ago. Specialists worldwide, including representatives of international institutions, foundations, and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, including the Red Cross of Ukraine, came together to discuss rehabilitation for people affected by the war. The forum included the Innovations for Rehabilitation project, encouraging startups and IT companies to showcase their inventions to facilitate military personnel and civilians’ physical and psychological rehabilitation.
This convention was followed closely by the Ukrainian Israeli Rehabilitation Summit 2023 in May, a platform for developing and implementing a comprehensive physical and psychological rehabilitation plan and ongoing dialogue about the formation of Ukraine’s post-war future and reconstruction.
In June, 700 participants and 40 speakers converged in the city for the Lviv Urban Forum to discuss architecture, urbanism, city planning and rebuilding Ukrainian towns. After the forum, the world-famous Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, renowned for his innovative work with paper and involvement in disaster relief projects, started working on the new surgical building for the national rehabilitation centre Unbroken in Lviv.
In an interview with Kyiv Times in December 2022, the Finnish owner of the previously mentioned Leopolis Hotel, Victor Hartwall, said: “It is clear that when the war ends and the situation stabilises, investors will come, realising how people work here and with what energy, strength, etcetera.
“The Unbroken Spirit runs deep in Lviv. We look forward to hosting more international conventions which will leave valuable legacies for Lviv and Ukraine,” says Yuliia Katynska from the convention bureau.
Upcoming international conventions booked for Lviv:
• European Society of Women in Theological Research Conference (ESWTR), 2023
• International ABDOS Conference, 2024
• Wilhelm Bernhard Workshop, 2025
• European Crystallographic Meeting (ECM), 2025
• 6th International Conference UNESCO Historic Cities, Heritage of Peace, 2025
• International Conference on Solid Compounds of Transition Elements (SCTE), 2026