All photos courtesy Federico Imperiale unless otherwise noted
A new genre of events is emerging: immersive television show experiences, where fans can step into the worlds of their favorite characters and enjoy what it feels like to be part of the storyline. Events such as “Stranger Things: The Experience,” “Friendsfest,” “Peaky Blinders: The Rise,” and even Immersive Gamebox’s “Squid Game” have been gaining popularity, leaving enthusiasts to wonder if their own favorite show will be recreated next.
Enter “The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience,” and you step into a past era of romance, puffed sleeves, etiquette, the English gentry, and a dash of scandal... all the feels that viewers of the hit Netflix show Bridgerton hope for.
Bridgerton (the series), for those not in the know, is a Shondaland (Shonda Rhimes) production via Netflix. "At Shondaland we are breaking the boundaries of storytelling by providing our global audiences with curated experiences that go beyond the traditional avenues of content consumption," said Sandie Bailey, Shondaland’s Chief Design and Digital Media Officer in a press release about the immersive event.
An Enchanting Evening
For those attending the experience of Bridgerton, immersion means donning Regency-era ballgowns and waistcoats and traveling back to the 1810s in high society London, UK, (even if, for this reviewer from Special Events magazine, outside the venue doors lay the city of Minneapolis, MN).
Upon entering the host gallery, one was greeted with a roomful of people bedecked in pearls, buckled shoes, and tiaras, and the excitement was palpable as attendees waited to be shown into the ballroom.
When the clock struck seven, attendees were ushered into a ballroom through a long archway draped in glowing lights and dripping florals, each taking a moment to snap a photo. VIP members were offered a glass of champagne, and people mingled around the black-and-white checkered ballroom waiting for the festivities to start. All around, attendants in breeches and powdered wigs welcomed each group and spoke in a proper English accent, pointing at newspaper clippings attendees received on arrival and gossiping questions about the identity of Lady Whistledown, the show’s resident mystery gossip columnist.
The evening grew in enchantment when “the Queen” entered the room, watching as guests tried to impress her with a bow or a curtsy. On stage, a string duo and a pianist played over a track of ballroom covers of pop songs, including “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles and “Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande. After, people swirled around the ballroom dancing, and soon, a performer hyped up the crowd. Next, a couple who had been dancing among the crowd stepped out of the shadows and performed an aerial dance using curtains that came down from the ceiling, which turned into an acrobatic show when the chandelier lowered and began slowly spinning while tricks were performed.
The ball finished with attendants splitting the crowd in two and teaching them ballroom line dances. Afterward, everyone was led into a marketplace of sorts, where they could pose for a photo that was edited to look like an oil painting, as well as purchase costume jewelry, merchandise, and drinks from the bar. All around, the room was surrounded with set walls of architectural columns, decorative busts, bay windows, and dress shop storefronts, transporting attendees back into Regency-era London. From décor to programming to costumes, everyone stuck to the theme, and it was truly an enchanting evening at The Queen’s Ball.
This event is occurring in Minneapolis, Denver, and Toronto through the end of 2022. Netflix partnered with the show’s production company, Shondaland, to create this immersive experience.
Click through the gallery to see photos from this elegant event!