To celebrate 30 years of the QEII Centre providing a stage for game changers and innovators, a celebratory event was held on 2 November 2016, which also acted as a showcase for the newly refurbished fifth and sixth floors of the venue.
QEII’s 30th birthday celebrations aimed to show guests how far the centre has come since it first opened in 1986, taking them on a journey from the 80s through to a glimpse of the future, hinting at how QEII intends to stay at the forefront of London’s event industry.
The event had to demonstrate QEII’s ability to transform its blank-canvas spaces, the first-class customer service guests receive, the centre’s new creative banqueting menus and the refurbishment of its fifth and sixth floor event spaces, to a guest list of existing and potential clients, partners and the media.
On arrival guests were welcomed into a magical dreamscape, complete with fluffy clouds, dry ice and a gregarious and fantastical ringmaster to help them begin their journeys into the wonderful world of QEII. A choice of three welcome cocktails helped decide which of three doorways they would enter through, taking them back to the 80s through music, fashion or film.
In the music room a festival stage awaited, with guitars, leather jackets and massive 80s hairstyles for guests to transform themselves into rock god headliners. Guests taking the fashion pathway found glamourous floor length fur coats, oversized sunglasses and Champagne flutes for the Ab Fab vibe and in the film room a sinister Darth Vader was waiting for the Jedis in training passing through.
Entering the reception area on QEII’s fifth floor, guests stepped into retro heaven with neon décor, Rubix cube tables, DJ decks and posters of 80s icons pinned to the walls, with a soundtrack that brought back a mix of fond and cringeworthy memories for many of those old enough to remember the era.
More cocktails were served with canapés inspired by classic 80s dishes including mushroom vol au vents, beetroot macarons with goat’s cheese mousse and devilled quails’ eggs with tobiko. The party was interrupted by a troop of break-dancers bursting into the room and wowing guests with their moves, before everyone was ushered upstairs to see QEII’s recently refurbished 6th floor.
With stunning night time views looking out towards the Thames and the London city skyline illuminated, it was a real Instagram-worthy moment as guests paused at the top of the stairs to take it all in. The open-plan space which can be used for dinners, standing receptions or theatre-style was decked out in futuristic style with impressive rib cage style archways lining the room with projections including the menu for the evening’s dinner.
A welcome speech came in the form of QEII’s chief executive Mark Taylor projected onto giant illuminated domes at the front of the room, reminding guests of QEII’s history as a stage for game changers and innovators but also looking to the future, with a sign off of ‘bon appetit!” as dinner was served.
Designed by QEII Taste’s new head chef Jean Michel Viala, the three-course meal was a real showcase of the creative banqueting menus available at QEII. Guests enjoyed a goat’s cheese panna cotta to start, fillet beef with oxtail ravioli, potatoes dauphinoise, cep puree, confit shallots and port jus and a show-stopping Black Forest Gateau with a twist – a chocolate dome with chocolate sauce to pour on top and reveal the delicious dessert waiting underneath.
Dinner ended on a high, as the break-dancers re-emerged with a final show of real strength and agility, before a confetti cannon erupted to mark the evening’s celebrations. The party didn’t end there however, with more 80s tunes downstairs and liqueurs, whisky and cognac digestifs to see the evening out.
The 30th birthday event was a sell-out – more than 300 clients, partners, and colleagues attended the event and the reach was furthered by social media activity and post-event media coverage.
The event offered the perfect opportunity to showcase the refurbishments carried out over the summer to transform the centre’s sixth floor into a flexible events space with stunning views of the London city skyline, ideally suited to banqueting, with the fifth floor below making an ideal reception space.
The dinner gave QEII’s recently appointed head chef Jean Michel Viala a chance to show off his creativity and the innovative new menus QEII is offering, while the centre’s event planners relished the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild with the theming.
Feedback on the night was overwhelmingly positive, with guests calling the event ‘amazing’ and a ‘fantastic experience’, and saying how great it was to see how the centre can be completely transformed.