The Best Immersive Entertainment in London
Forget going to the cinema or hitting the pub with your friends, if you want to get more from your social life, it’s all about immersive experiences now. Whether you’re dying to be part of your favourite film, or you want to spend an evening fighting zombies, there’s something for everyone. The problem is there’s so much to choose from, which is the one for you? Check out our guide to London’s best immersive performances and start ticking them off your list...
1. Calling all puzzle solvers
If you’re a fan of the Saw films, then you’re going to love London’s puzzle rooms. You and a group of friends get trapped in a room and have to use your brains to work out how to escape before the time runs out. Don’t worry, a creepy serial killer isn’t going to cut you to pieces if you don’t manage it, but you’ll have lots of fun discovering if you can outwit the puzzle-makers.
Escape Rooms is based on the Japanese online game Takagism and each team has to use their “intuition, teamwork skills and intelligence to accomplish a unique and challenging task”. There’s also Escape Hunt, which works along the same lines but you and your friends get to play detectives as you try and find the guilty suspect’s identity and subsequently your escape.
2. The zombie apocalypse is here
Hands up who has a plan in place should the zombie apocalypse ever arrive? Well, now’s your chance to see how well it stands up against actual zombies (sort of). Undead experiences have been around for almost as long as the zombie films have been popular, but rather than taking part in the usual zombie run, these experiences take it one step further.
The Generation of Z gives you the chance to become part of The Walking Dead as your choices determine the outcome of the zombie apocalypse. Played out in a purpose-built 25,000-square-foot maze in Whitechapel, it contains "extreme shock and tension, realistic depictions of gore and violence". Another one to check out is WWII Zombie Blitz, which as you’ve probably guessed sends you back to London 1940 to contend with not only bombs but the undead too.
3. Spice up your evening meal
With immersive experiences for almost everything, it’s no surprise that food has had its own makeover too. There’s pop up restaurants all over the place in London, so you’ve got plenty to choose from no matter what kind of food you’re into. Whether you want a full on performance with your meal or you just want to turn up with your taste buds, we’ve got just the thing.
The Art of Dining sees guests indulge in a little East India Trading company cuisine with its latest event. Hosted at the National Trust’s 18th century Osterley House, East To Osterley provides patrons with an amazingly immersive five-course feast, gorgeous set and superb actors. If you want even more adventure then check out London’s Dans Le Noir? restaurant, which has customers enjoying a three-course meal in the dark. Designed to give people a taste of what it’s like to be blind, it’s definitely one of a kind.
4. Experience your favourite film
Have you ever watch your favourite movie only to wish you could be a part of it? Who hasn’t, right? Well thanks to the new immersive cinema craze that’s taking the world by storm you now have the chance to do just that.
Secret Cinema is no longer a secret as the film events have become famous all over the world. The last big event saw Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park transformed into Back To The Future’s Hill Valley and despite a few early teething problems, people flocked from far and wide to become part of the iconic ‘80s film. This year sees Secret Cinema Present Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and it’s a must for fans. Details are being kept under wraps (obviously!) but if it’s anything like past performances, it’ll be epic. Plus, you’ll get to watch the film at the end.
5. Talk your way into a speakeasy
If these immersive night’s out sound great but are a little too energetic for you and your friends, then you might want to try going out for drinks with a difference. Here’s your chance to get dressed up in your best vintage ensemble and step out for some very swish and very secretive cocktails. It’s the prohibition era and you can’t be caught with a drink in your hand!
Evans & Peel Detective Agency is a front for one of the most popular speakeasies in London but be warned, they’re serious about staying beneath the radar so you won’t get in without playing along. Step inside and state your *cough* case *cough* to the man at the desk and he’ll decide whether you get to see the ‘detectives’. The Candlelight Club operates on the same principal and takes on the feel of a clandestine cocktail bar. The pop up hosts plenty of events throughout London, just don’t let anyone see you slip in the back door.
6. Tumble down the rabbit hole
If you think becoming part of your favourite movie is cool, then you should try entering the magical world of one of the most beloved children’s books of all time. The 150 year anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s famous novel sees Wonderland come to London in the most incredible way.
Immersive theatre company Les Enfants Terribles has spent months turning The Vaults under Waterloo station into the trippy world of Wonderland and it’s certainly paid off. Leave reality behind and take tea with the Mad Hatter, see Alice through a looking glass and square up to the Queen of Hearts. With cocktails along the way and an epic bar at the end, this is one incredible night out. Plus, they have kid friendly productions during the day so families and friends can both enjoy the immersive experience.
7. It’s time to pair up
Don’t worry; these aren’t romantic immersive things for couples to do. A lot of performances take place as part of a group but the shows designed for just two people are a lot more intense. Some of them you can do with a friend, while others throw you in the deep end with a stranger, but either way it’s a fascinating experience.
The Lost Room is an immersive performance designed to leave people with shared memories. Two people (who can be friends or strangers) enter a room with headphones on and are asked to do anything from cracking codes, to moving around the room. If you have a friend who enjoys mysteries then you might want to check out A Hallow Body. You both download the Museum of London interactive mobile app and follow the story as it directs you around the city. Sometimes you’ll be together and other times you won’t, but you’ll always feel like you’re part of a clandestine story.
8. Let your imagination run wild
If you’re no stranger to immersive entertainment and you’re looking for something a little more hard-core, then there are a few shows which will push you even further. Definitely not for the feint-hearted, performances which ask you to abandon your senses and indulge in a little suggestive psychology provide an intriguing alternative to the norm.
From David Rosenberg and Glen Neath comes Fiction, which questions whether a group of people can all have the same dream? Audiences are ushered into a boardroom wearing headphones and after a brief interaction, they are plunged into total darkness with only a soft, French, female voice whispering in their ear. Where she takes them is completely up to their willingness to suspending disbelief and ability to encourage their imagination.