Special Events magazine is proud to announce the winners of the 2020 Gala Awards.
The magazine received entries from around the world, including Canada, China, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Thailand and the United States. Members of the Special Events Advisory Board evaluated the entries and determined the nominees.
The winners announced last night at The Special Event at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.
Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte, N.C.
A 13-day celebration of art, music, food and ideas, this festival featured more than 175 events for the city’s residents and visitors. Some 200,000 attendees enjoyed a diverse mix of local artists, musicians, chefs and thought leaders along with headliners such as Grammy winner Anthony Hamilton, rock band Umphrey’s McGee, and indie pop act Bleachers. Other highlights were the commission of new public murals, family-focused programming, cooking demonstrations, keynote speakers and panel discussions.
BEST FUNDRIASING EVENT
“21st Discovery Ball”
California Science Center, Los Angeles
The record-breaking 21st annual fund/friend-raising gala kicked off the world premiere of “Dogs! A Science Tail”--a traveling exhibition curated by the California Science Center. For cocktails, the team created a playful “puppy love” setting followed by an elegant seated dinner in a “London park” setting filled with fireflies, weeping willows and pastel English roses. After dinner, party-goers enjoyed an electric nightclub environment imagined as an oversized dog house, with upholstered hot-pink fun-fur walls and dog-themed desserts.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION
“Boston University Campaign Victory Celebration”
Stratelyst Creative, Austin, Texas
Boston University celebrated the end of its seven-year, $1.8-billion fundraising initiative with two milestone events: a gala dinner for 400 of the biggest donors to the university, followed the next evening by an immersive 3-D-mapped show on ice for 3,000 members of the community at large. With more than 500 performers over the course of two days, the celebration featured synchronized skaters, the college choir, band, opera, and ice hockey club, along with ice-skating aerialists and the entire Boston Pops Orchestra.
BEST WEDDING: BUDGET UNDER $1,000 PER GUEST
Bebke Productions, Even Yehuda, Israel
The inspiration for this wedding came from the event where the couple met: the Israeli edition of the Burning Man Festival. The couple wanted to provide their guests with an artistic experience that would not end once the wedding ended. In response, the event team created craft stands where guests hammered, painted and sewed the couple’s wedding decorations and future furniture; the wedding couple’s home now holds the furniture created at the wedding.
BEST WEDDING: BUDGET $1,000 AND ABOVE PER GUEST
“Modern Minimalist Wedding in Carmel”
Kristin Banta Events, Studio City, Calif.
Underscoring the couple’s effortless style, this modern minimalist wedding combined hard with soft in a luxe, neutral palette featuring industrial textures and organic accents. Held at Carmel Valley Ranch’s [Calif.] hilltop setting with its jaw-dropping views, the fashion-forward ceremony incorporated a prism frame strung with copper pendants and showcased a collection of Belgian rugs and concrete blocks topped with baby’s breath and parrot tulips. After the ceremony, guests settled into plush banquettes for sunset cocktails, followed by a reception featuring a luxurious collection of tablescapes, a custom dance floor, and a pendant installation overhead.
BEST MULTIPLE-DAY EVENT PROGRAM FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION
“SHRM Annual Conference 2019”
INVNT, New York
The SHRM Annual Conference is a must-attend for human resources professionals seeking to enhance their skills, stay abreast of the latest trends, get certified or re-certified, and engage in networking activities. Central to this experience are the conference’s four general sessions, which in 2019 featured four engaging set designs, the latest tech, and talent ranging from Lionel Richie and Martha Stewart to Brene’ Brown and Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie.
BEST TENT INSTALLATION
“Circus World Celebration--Under the Big Top”
The RK Group, San Antonio
This 95th “birthday spectacular” celebrated a beloved mother, business pioneer and community leader. The circus-themed event keyed on the three-ring tents of old, with guests transitioning into three separate, spectacular tented environments supported with more than a half dozen smaller tents used for operations. The three primary tents were a 30- by-50-meter clearspan structure, a 50-meter round tent, and a 40- by-60-meter clearspan structure
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN TECHNICAL SUPPORT
“Phish New Year's Eve Concert”
Future Affairs Productions, Pawtucket, R.I.
For the lucky 22,000 who scored a ticket to Phish’s sold-out concert on New Year’s Eve in New York, a highlight was the theatrics at midnight. Cued to lyrics in the song “Mercury,” a red stage wash showcased a four-minute rain of red rose petals floating down from the ceiling across the front of the stage. At midnight, the “Mercury” theme came to life with a balloon drop of thousands of silver orbs resembling beads of mercury.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN LOGISTICS
“BMW Vision iNEXT World Flight”
VOK DAMS Events, Wuppertal, Germany
Inspired by Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days," the event team took the BMW Vision iNEXT to media representatives in four cities on three continents within five days. “BMW iNEXT World Flight” featured a cargo plane converted into a high tech, futuristic stage. Surrounded by an impressive 360-degree light and media installation and presented on a built-in turntable, the program offered some 400 journalists from around the world the experience of the concept vehicle at virtually same moment
BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: BUDGET UNDER $100,000
“Investment Aktuell 2019: Life Counts”
Every year, Union Investment provides the directors of its partner banks with insights into innovative topics at its annual flagship event: InvestmentAktuell. This year, the program took the theme of the numbers that rule of our lives—from simple phone numbers to complex data—and showed the incredible power numbers have to shape and enrich our lives. According to the motto of “Life Counts,” the theme of the campaign was translated into a multi-sensory experience designed to amaze, amuse and inspire.
BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: BUDGET $100,000 AND ABOVE
“Who Runs The World? Girls!”
Bravo! Entertainment, Dallas
For an international beauty company’s big annual event, the event team put together a custom entertainment package empowering women. The production comprised 4,000 square feet of stage, 1,000 hours of rehearsals, 40 performances in two weeks, 111 cast members from all over the United States, custom, interactive content on 12 LED screens, 500-plus costumes, 175 interactive props, 32,000 attendees--and one custom Scottish tartan. From the opening production number and surprise product reveals to celebrations and inspirational pieces, every moment of the entertainment was strategically created to reflect the brand, celebrate success, and motivate top salespeople.
MOST OUTSTANDING SPECTACLE
“The ICONSIAM City Opening Mega Phenomena”
Index Creative Village, Bangkok
To celebrate the opening of the Iconsiam City development, the event team created a 30-minute show for more than 550,000 guests. Keying on the theme of “the best of Thailand meeting the best of the world,” the program combined traditional Thai culture with innovative new technologies and world-class contemporary performances, including 1,500 drones, 45 LED drummers, and 200 student performers
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET UNDER $1,000 PER GUEST
“50th Birthday Celebration”
Corinthian Events, Boston
Keying on the theme of “One Night in Singapore,” the event team oversaw the buy-out of a local Southeast Asian restaurant for a birthday bash for 110 guests. Challenged with transforming the public space, the team skillfully covered intrusive windows with cling, and used extensive florals to add atmosphere. The chef went all out with a wide array of appetizers, a build-your-own bahn mi station, and custom cocktails.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET $1,000 AND ABOVE PER GUEST
Events Man, Hong Kong
Guests at this three-day extravaganza started at the Ritz Paris for champagne and high tea, and by 5 p.m. were onboard the Venice Simplon-Orient Express. The 24-hour train journey included gourmet meals, fine wines and a rollicking party that rolled through four countries. Upon arrival in Venice, guests were whisked to the Hotel Cipriani and a masquerade ball featuring a performance by Kylie Minogue.
BEST EVENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN
“Facebook Creators Lounge at VidCon 2019”
Gallagher, Los Angeles
Facebook has hosted a Creators Lounge for several years at VidCon, one of the largest conventions in the world for social media creators. To offer an elevated experiential atmosphere along with highlighting the new platform launch--the Facebook Creator Studio, which provides audio and video production tools to create content in Facebook--the event team created a video production studio that included editors, so that professional videos could be shot and edited on-site.
BEST EVENT VENUE
Dating back to the 1930s, this iconic venue is an historic landmark in the heart of Minneapolis. The indoor/outdoor space is designed to offer maximum options for customization and scalability, with the ability to accommodate groups from 25 to 8,000 guests, offering top-flight event management, catering, and audiovisual and production capabilities.
BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET UNDER $250,000
To Be Designed, San Diego
For this 300-person sit-down dinner, the team’s objective was to tell a complex story based entire on design. The team had three goals: to convey the growth of the client--a law firm celebrating its 10th year; to include the firm’s and its clients’ earth-friendly interests; and to create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind dinner in a museum setting. The design theme developed from small greenery touches at the entrance and ended with a dinner in a magical, overgrown woodland where stunning imagery of the world’s major forests surrounded the guests.
BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET $250,000 to $500,000
“San Francisco Symphony Opening Night Gala”
Got Light, San Francisco, and Blueprint Studios, San Francisco
The San Francisco Symphony opening night gala drew more than 3,000 attendees to celebrate conductor Michael Tilson Thomas’ 25th and final season as music director. The event featured six unique venues for attendees, including four dinner spaces, a street party, and a backstage VIP lounge. The exclusive Patrons’ Pavilion dinner tent featured eight stunning chandeliers and transformed from dinner service into a dance party.
BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET ABOVE $500,000
“Ski Chalet Holiday Soiree”
Silhouette Group, New York
It was a chilly December night in Austin, Texas, as 500 guests walked through the unassuming doors of an airport hangar into the base of a snowy mountain in a ski village. After cocktails, a grand doorway entrance led to dinner, where guests were transported to the top of the mountain and inside the dining room of the ski chalet. Guests found their seats at king dining tables, where elaborate runners of florals, greenery, fairy lights, birch wooden stubs and surprise elements such as antlers drew “oohs” and “aahs” from guests.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: BUDGET UNDER $500,000
“Haus Laboratories Brand Product Launch Party”
Gallagher, Los Angeles
Founded by Lady Gaga, Haus Laboratories prides itself on not being “just another beauty brand,” so the event team celebrated this approach with avant-garde settings and a guest list to match. The hangar venue was broken into activity zones including a laboratory-themed makeup trial store, an elevated gastronomy experience, celebrity lounge, VIP DJ booth area, fully functioning night club, backstage lounge, and VIP trailer green for Gaga. A light show heralded Gaga’s entrance and opening speech, which concluded with a kabuki drop that revealed the makeup lab.
BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: BUDGET $500,000 AND ABOVE
“World Premiere Porsche 911 "Timeless Machine"
Pure Perfection, Wiesbaden, Germany
Porsche founder Ferry Porsche’s notion of the “timeless machine” became the guiding principle and content source for the press launch of the latest model 911 for both live and online audiences. The event team created a time tunnel--250 meters long and 25 meters wide--as the launch stage for a retrospective journey showcasing the eight generations of the 911. The hybrid staging worked for the live audience of 400 as well as the 2.4 million viewers online.