Humans have craved entertainment since the beginning of time, albeit in a variety of forms. From campfire storytelling to Roman gladiator competitions to court jesters amusing royalty, people have gathered to forget about their own lives for a bit and get lost in another world.
The evolution of entertainment has been influenced by changes in culture, society, personal taste, political times, and technology. Today, no event is complete without several forms of entertainment.
Since bouncing back from the isolation of the global pandemic, we have seen the celebration of gathering and the explosion of immersive entertainment. In today’s event landscape, every aspect must draw in attendees and capture their attention entirely, from décor to dining to entertainment.
As the demand increases for bigger and bolder entertainment, event planners will need to know what captivates their attendees and keep up with trends. Grab a notepad and get inspired by the amusements we’re seeing as we begin 2023.
Live music is back! Now that social gatherings are back at pre-pandemic levels, all the industries that depended on events are coming back as well. According to Eventbrite’s 2022 Trends Report, music was the number one category of ticket sales.
“Music was clearly the lifeblood for Americans in 2022, with approximately 28 million tickets transacted on Eventbrite,” the report stated. “Despite anticipating continued inflation in 2023, close to half (48%) of U.S. consumers surveyed say they’re willing to pay more for music events—whether for a performer they feel passionate about, or because they’re willing to pay for great experiences, no matter the performer.”
The report showed that themed music nights are trending upward, like 80’s night, disco night, and K-Pop night. These types of shows are on the rise, and their popularity is evidenced by the 130% growth in attendance rates. Other rising trends include album release parties and music events with Afro-Caribbean roots (Reggae, Afrobeats, Soca, etc.). Silent discos—while we loved them—are on the way out, making way for our favorite artists to perform live once again.
Another music trend we’re seeing: roaming—and sometimes dancing—violinists. These performers will dress up in their glitziest outfits and weave in and out among event attendees, often dancing or playing over pop tracks, à la Lindsey Stirling.
Make sure your events this year have music themes and live performances to wow the crowd and increase those attendance numbers!
Social media has certainly influenced the way we view entertainment—will this event space look good on Insta? Is this activity able to be captured in an intriguing TikTok video?
Each year, we see brand activations become more visually grabbing and even more immersive, creating mini experiences that transport attendees into another world inside of an event itself. Absolut Vodka made headlines in 2022 with its Coachella activation Absolut.Land, which mixed VR Metaverse technology with different activity rooms that celebrated art, fashion, culture, and cocktails. Cheetos® partnered with Amazon Alexa for a “hands-free house” at SXSW, promoting hands-free technology attendees could use while eating Cheetos.
Another trend to keep an eye on is immersive dining. Every aspect of the event should be entertaining and photo-worthy, including eating and drinking! With decoratively displayed food and beverage walls becoming standard, and experiential dining on the rise, attendees will be captivated with each bite and sip. Think themed dinners, VR integration, theatric dinner games and shows—anything to step up the usual drinking and dining! To get inspired, check out our immersive dining blog. (For more on immersive dining, view this article in Catersource magazine.) We also like these interactive beverage stations: orbs that give off an edible flavored (sometimes spiked) mist, which attendees can drink with a straw. Anything to put a new spin on the old and get that amazing photo!
Playful interactive games and activity stations bring out everyone’s inner child and competitive side. This year, we’ll be seeing more escape rooms, ball pits, bouncy castles, and glitter bars. Even better? Make people part of the games! Giant human foosball is a popular game where attendees take the place of the plastic players; giant human claw machines are also popular, where attendees can become the claw and get lowered into a machine to pick out prizes!
Keep up with technology
Use augmented reality and virtual reality games, maps, and information stations to keep guests plugged in. QR code scavenger hunts are also gaining momentum. Whether using the latest technology or the most classic games that have withstood the test of time, games and activities are the way to keep guests having fun.
Above all, entertainment should be fun to watch. Combining service with entertainment—like flair bartending, servers in champagne hoop skirts or costumes with hawker trays—is a great way to sneak subtle entertainment into any event. Even actors in theatrical costumes or LED-lit costumes mingling with guests or posing as living statues add an exciting visual element to the scene.
Of course, stage performances will always be great entertainment. From spinning Cyr wheels to aerial silk performers, from sand artists to pyro performers, watching skilled artists work their magic always hypes a crowd. Holograms are also working their way into the spotlight, with advanced technology to bring a whole new type of entertainment to life. We’re also predicting an increase in drag shows and standup comedy as these acts make their way into the mainstream.
Entertainment comes in many forms, from performance to interactive activity. As we make our way through the beginning of this new year, remember that innovation is what makes people pull out their cameras—trust your creativity, try a few trends, and wow your crowd with great entertainment!