When we were kids there was something magical about parties. When even a small group of friends get together it creates a joyous dynamic, the likes of which is hard to fabricate. In fact, you simply can't fake it!
Fundamentally (meaning both 'fun' and 'mental', I presume!), the two most powerful yet essential ingredients of a great party are close friends and a fun, often single themed activity. And maybe a themed cake - that's always a highlight (I remember having a full 3D Pink Mr. Greedy cake with chocolate button eyes and he was even eating an ice cream - although I think the Alton Towers catering department made it, so it was technically cheating!).
Nowadays, it's the same, but with ever more sophisticated e-tailers such as the Middleton family business (which is actually really good), themed parties are far more slick and polished, requiring much less thought and effort than they used to. Frozen and Spiderman parties are particularly well catered for these days (yawn!) and, whereas that used to mean ropey 'fancy dress' it now means that parents can literally turn an entire room into a themed environment, from plates to pinatas - in a similar (albeit DIY) way to how we transform environments for corporate events.
In fact, you can learn a lot from children's parties because, in effect, all parties strive for the same thing - creating a fun and exciting environment in which guests can fully immerse themselves (preferably lose themselves) and detach themselves, even momentarily, from the sometimes harsh reality outside. A gang of carefree and likeminded people in a fun, themed environment goes a long, long way whether you're six or sixty six.
I used to disassociate Londonlaunch from the word 'party' because I thought that events were serious business and that the word 'party' sounded too frivolous. But what's an event if it's not at least partly a party? Even conferences employ entertainment and hi-tech 'Gameification' these days because people don't want to be bored. They want to be inspired and filled with the desire to go out and do something as a result of what they've just learnt and who they've just met. The corporate 'party' is back on the agenda (why the hell not!?) and the most direct way to convey this notion is surely through a pre-themed environment, of which there are many just waiting to be explored in and around London.
So, if you're looking for a magical and pre-fabricated themed experience (which is often more cost effective than building one yourself!) for your next corporate event, then start with these - our Top 10 Themed Venues:
1. Warner Bros Studio Tour. For a truly World class (and brand new) themed experience then simply fly North (without crossing the actual border at Watford!) and you'll arrive at what is, effectively, Hogwarts. From authentic sets to special effects, this destination venue will add a touch of magic to any event and will leave your guests completely and utterly spellbound...
2. Thorpe Park. I met someone who organises speed networking events last week and he's hosting his next one here. In a fabulous and inventive twist, he's hired a sector of the park and plans to strap a GoPro camera to the back of each seat on a rollercoaster, offering delegates one circuit in which they can introduce themselves and pitch their business to the person next to them. Then the videos will be played back over dinner for a memorable and unique experience! Thorpe Park is a 'big ride' park and its location makes it an excellent escape for London businesses looking to do something which constitutes actual fun...a total no-brainer from my (completely biased!) perspective!
3. Alton Towers Resort. Ok, so I'm always going to be biased on this one but Alton Towers is, and always has been, the only park in Europe that intrigued the Disney Corporation. For two reasons. Firstly, it has an actual castle as opposed to a plastic one and secondly it's genuinely the most sympathetically themed big ride environment in the world (even the top of the Corkscrew was painted green for disguise purposes!). This place has something for everyone though and the most excellent event and conference facilities, of course. It's not cheap but then neither is your brand, is it? Do it!
4. Rainforest Cafe. Hiding in plain sight on Shaftestbury Avenue, the Rainforest Cafe is a beautifully themed event environment. It's not often on the corporate radar (because it's seen as more of a fantastical childlike environment) but, if you read my article intro then you'll understand exactly why that's probably it's greatest asset! The Rainforest Cafe offers a unique and magical environment over two floors (with a capacity of up to 650 reception style) with an abundance of simulated weather systems, 'jungular' undergrowth, animatronics, waterfalls and tropical fish tanks. Theme-fuelled fun and out of this world!
5. Ripley's Believe It or Not! Your guests just won't be able to help being drawn in to this quirky fact-filled place, housed in one of Piccadilly Circus' most magnificent classical buildings. With a variety of excellent event spaces, this self-certified 'odditorium' offers more than 700 mind (and eye) boggling exhibits including a ship made entirely of matchsticks and a man with false teeth (from an actual crocodile!). This freaky emporium offers a unique opportunity to associate their amazing facts with your delegates' discovery of your own company facts to really immerse your guests in your brand and make it..what's the word...oh, yeah! Exciting! Perhaps include a twitter quiz about what your guests are about to discover to get the engagement flowing...
6. Mercedes Benz World. This stunning and imposing architectural Mecca of engineering is a truly awe-inspiring event destination for any company wanting to make a serious statement of intent to impress! With excellent modern event and meeting facilities coupled with specially designed state of the art performance driving tracks, Merceds Benz World at Brooklands is a treasure trove of automotive ingenuity which will intrigue and amaze your corporate guests. Before shaking them up as they're razzed around the track at high speed, of course...!
7. The Royal Air Force Museum. Not too far from the Warner Bros Studio Tour, in North London, there's a fascinating historical venue of National significance that you might not even know is there! The Royal Airforce Museum is a vast series of historical hangars on the site of London's original military airport. The World War runways have long since been built upon but the hangars remain filled with stunning and imposing military machines including a gigantic Sea Plane, Spitfires, captured German fighters, a Lancaster bomber, the Queen's former flight and so many other fascinating contraptions! Their event spaces are spectacular too - with a state of the art auditorium for 220 to an aircraft-side reception for 800, this unique series of venue spaces is well worth considering, especially for conferences where you'd like to go somewhere uniquely inspirational.
8. Lee Valley VeloPark. Okay, so this stunning venue is not so much 'themed' as the actual real deal! Nestled within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Velodrome is an excellent location for a multi-faceted, Olympic themed day out of the office. Combining acres of bright event space with a goosebump-inducing central atrium, the Lee Valley Velo Park is the ultimate team-building or corporate training destination with full professional instruction on how to master fast bikes with no brakes and a giant interactive scoreboard to keep it competitive! Contact Cavendish hospitality for this or the equally thrilling Lee Valley White Water Centre, just up the road!
9. Hush Heath Estate. It's rare to discover a fully functional commercial vineyard anywhere in the UK, but Hush Heath in the 'Garden of England' (that's Kent!) is a beautiful and tranquil destination amidst ancient woodlands and blossoming orchards. The estate itself, with its stunning Tudor Manor at the heart of it all, is both picturesque and peaceful whilst their award winning sparkling wines (every bit as good as Champagne in my opinion!) offer a unique opportunity for you and your guests to learn about the intricacies of master winemaking. A fascinating corporate event destination, Geographically on the City's doorstep yet somehow a million miles away...
10. Ivory Vaults. In the bustling St.Katherine's Dock, near Tower Bridge lies a seductive and historical vault which can house up to 450 guests for a wide variety of events. Although the venue can by dry-hired, Ivory Vaults are most famously known for their themed Medieval Banquet events which are both slick and well established, but they also offer a variety of alternative themes including their Throne's Night, their prohibition inspired Embargo, their burlesque-cirque 'Lascivious', Masquerade Ball and Vikings events all involve a 4D experience complete with actors for a truly immersive time. An impressive historical venue in a great location, Ivory Vaults offers a fun themed environment to suit most tastes and requirements.