Tower of London

Winter events warm up the festive season

Ice rink at Tower of London, powered by Arena Group

A wide range of winter events have launched across the UK and business is booming. With many of them being staged outdoor it’s clear that temporary structures are bucking the trend.

Canary Wharf was the first to tap into the winter season with the opening of an ice rink on 4 November, closely followed by Tower of London’s own ice skating site and bar on 17 November.

Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, in Central London, offers what is deemed the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink plus attractions ranging from rides, circus, theatre, and food and drink. Next week will see Winterville, another pop-up town, open in Clapham Common (23 November).

Last but not least, Greenwich Winter Time Festival at Old Royal Naval College is set to open on 1 December. The Historic Royal Palaces will follow the trend with an ice rink in Hampton Court. It might open later in the season but it will be up and running until 7 January 2018.

Light festivals are also tapping into the winter events offering. Lumiere Durham stands out as the UK’s largest light festival featuring 29 artworks. The four-day event will close on 19 Monday and the organiser is bullish on attracting 200,000 people.

Other projects in this field include Hull City of Culture 2017. The culture company has announced a spectacular show with Where Do We Go From Here? In Cornwall, the Truro’s Festival of Lights will take the community to a lively parade, which is expected to attract 30,000 people.

Expert insight

Undoubtedly, the offer of winter events is plenty, largely staged outdoor, however, a significant share of the offering across the UK is indoor. The market is led by leisure centres, but other sporting facilities and venues are also picking up market share.

Access talked to Aggreko to get a business insight on winter events as a whole. The company provides specially designed power, heating and cooling to a wide variety of winter events, from snow sport events in remote locations like the X Games or Winter Olympics to Christmas events like Christmas markets, city centre ice rinks and light displays.

Kevin Brownhill, senior account manager, Aggreko Event Services, points out that the company also do contingency planning to ensure events meet the organisers’ and participants’ expectations. “We work to make sure that the events can run on time, without disruption, which might mean supporting winter events with temperature equipment to keep snow cold, or to warm the audience arena, support catering etc.”

Ice rink - Melbourne Federation Square

Ice rink at Melbourne Federation Square, powered by Aggreko

Aggreko boasts an extensive portfolio of projects. The company was appointed to light up ‘Luminocity’, the ice rink in Canary Wharf, last year, and has also provided power and chilling for Christmas ice rinks in Mexico and Chile.

“Being in the Southern Hemisphere and seeing temperatures rise to around 20 degrees Celsius in December, artificial cooling is a priority here and any disruptions to power or chilling would inevitably result in these rinks disappearing very quickly,” Brownhill said, adding that Aggreko also supports global arenas hosting ice hockey tournaments, often having to freeze the pitch and melt and dismantle it within very narrow time constraints.

Brownhill pointed out the importance of planning. “Christmas events draw big numbers and ensuring reliability is key. Melting ice rinks and failing lights are not good for an event’s reputation and maintaining high footfall throughout the season. Incorporating efficient, tailored systems and taking steps to protect reliability help to mitigate these risks.”

The collaboration between organiser and supplier is paramount. Brownhill suggested that working as far in advance as possible will benefit the delivery of the overall event, particularly on new events or in new locations where the risks are not yet identified.

“We can be very creative in finding solutions to problems, whether that be limited space or meeting specific noise and emission regulations for example,” Brownhill said. “Planning ahead and implementing contingency plans is vital to avoiding disruption to spectators and families enjoying seasonal events,” he concluded.

HRP’s Tower of London to host BBC Good Food’s Feast

Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) expands relationship with BBC Good Food to host debut BBC Good Food’s Feast at the Tower of London Moat.

The Tower of London, one of the six venues cared for by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, is set to host its first BBC Good Food’s Feast event on 22-24 September 2017.

Following the success of the popular BBC Good Food Festivals held at Hampton Court Palace, HRP and co-producers River Street Events are expecting over 100 food and drink exhibitors to attend the event.

Guests can enjoy live cookery demonstrations from well established to upcoming chefs at the ‘Feast Kitchen’, live music and masterclasses in a range of skills from patisserie to cocktails. The BBC Good Food Stage will play host to live interviews and demos, as well as a steak workshop with The Ginger Pig and the Jones Family.

“We have a fantastic relationship with the BBC Good Food brand, which has resulted in this opportunity to introduce a brand new show at the iconic Tower of London,” said Liz Young, head of events at Historic Royal Palaces. “The sweeping dry moat and surrounding castellated buildings are steeped in history, making this a stunning location for BBC Good Food’s Feast.”

“In addition to the fabulous exhibitors and demonstrations on offer, visitors to the festival will play their part in ensuring the Tower of London continues to be well maintained and open for all to enjoy, as income raised from commercial activities is reinvested in conservation, public access and educational activities,” Young added.

Exhibitors at the festival include Blacks Cheese, The New York Deli Company and Conker Spirit with Dorset-inspired gin flavours.

Laura Biggs, managing director of River Street Events, commented: “It’s a privilege to work in such an iconic setting, the location and the dry moat give the perfect setting for BBC Good Food’s Feast.”

Tower of London expands events offering

The Tower of London, one of six venues cared for by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, has launched Tower Pursuits, a new activity to attract teambuilding events and add a new dimension to its business events offering.

Designed in partnership with teambuilding experts Wildgoose, Tower Pursuits brings to life many features while also uncovering hidden secrets and lesser known facts about the palace.

“Working with Wildgoose has enabled us to offer a new, innovative teambuilding activity for clients who choose the Tower of London for a conference, meeting or dinner. Most significantly it’s allowed us to marry our history and culture with today’s technology and thereby appeal to a whole new audience,” Milan Thakrar, business development manager, commercial events at Historic Royal Palaces, commented.

With a focus on technology, social media and guest interaction, Tower Pursuits draws on the history of the famous fortress, which is almost 1,000 years old.

Bespoke teambuilding events

Teambuilding events can be tailored for varying group sizes and ensure guests are left with a long lasting and different perspective on the Tower.

The activities have been devised to help boost productivity amongst teams and colleagues through sharing skills, boosting moral, confidence building and better understanding of each other.

Participants are tasked with visiting ‘hotspots’ around the palace, and answering a series of trivia questions, filming creative videos and taking photos at each site, to collect maximum points and beat their fellow competitors.

Commenting on the partnership, Shelly Henderson from Wildgoose, added: “We had great fun bringing the history to life and thinking how we can use so many of the palace’s amazing assets, like the White Tower or Traitor’s Gate for example. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to what has to be the definitive team build destination.”

Historical Royal Palaces announces record year for events

The Historic Royal Palaces events team has announced record achievements in its latest financial year.

The events department for the independent charity that is responsible for six Palaces across London and Northern Ireland, has generated a 17 per cent increase in income from events, providing vital funds that will be reinvested back into conserving and caring for the Palaces.

The financial year 2016/17 has seen the Historic Royal Palaces teams managing high profile events for internationally recognised brands.

The Tower of London played host to the NFL for the eighth consecutive year, while Hampton Court Palace welcomed agents and corporates to the Hidden Garden Festival. Kensington Palace put of their first ever concert on the East Front for Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale.

“We are all absolutely delighted with these results – it really has been an incredible year,” said Liz Young, head of events at Historic Royal Palaces. “I am very proud of each of our venue teams, who have worked tirelessly to show guests just what can be achieved within our palaces, and also to bring the palaces to life for all those who visit.”

Kew Palace is also taking on more bookings following its Reawakening of Kew event in April this year, while Banqueting House hosted the first ever Historic Royal Palaces Wedding Showcase in September 2016.

“Our success also has a more important element, which is that of securing the future of these incredible buildings for future generations to enjoy. That’s the goal we all share, and we are immensely proud to be able to continue doing this,” Young said.