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Alice in Wonderland has turned us all into mad hatters. Natalie Curant reports on this year’s hottest party trend
Alice fever is sweeping the nation. Tim Burton’s 3D adaptation of the classic Lewis
Carroll fairy tale seems to have really struck a chord with event organisers – and, after watching the film, we’re not surprised. Who wouldn’t want to party in his edgy new ‘Underland’?
Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties are suddenly being held everywhere, from five-star hotels to exhibition centres. Over the past few months, we’ve tucked into rainbow-coloured sandwiches and Space Dust-sprinkled cupcakes at the Sanderson (tel: 020 7300 1400) and climbed through the cupboard at Callooh Callay (tel: 020 7739 4781) to sample the Mad Hatter’s Punch with hot cross buns.
We even found ourselves a bit of Alice-inspiration while exhibiting at Confex, where our stand neighbour, Event Prop Hire (tel: 08450 940816), showcased a wacky tea party scene with stacks of giant crockery. Rosie Ellis, the company’s director, wasn’t surprised that it attracted lots of attention. ‘Obviously the film release has fuelled interest in the theme, but it has always been popular for us,’ she said.
Just like a trusty old pot of Earl Grey, the trend for parties based on Lewis Carroll’s recognisable brand of English eccentricity has been brewing for some time and the author has many high-profile fans. ‘Time and again, Carroll’s tale has opened up a rabbit-hole for me to explore,’ writes Heston Blumenthal in The Times. ‘Food should be playful as well as delicious. Alice knows that “something interesting is sure to happen” whenever she eats or drinks anything. That is exactly the kind of excitement and anticipation that I like to provoke.’
Karin Taylor, the director of entertainment agency Calmer Karma (tel: 020 7401 9745) says bookings for Alice-themed acts have gone through the roof. ‘Tim Burton has taken Alice in Wonderland out of the children’s party wrapper and put it into the twisted fairytale playground, making it a must-have theme for grown-ups,’ she says. From break-dancing Mad Hatters and bouncing White Rabbits to the aerial acrobat Cheshire Cat and contortionist Alice in a tiny replica dolls’ house, there’s plenty to choose from.
A garden setting goes a long way to set the scene. Throw in some cucumber sandwiches, vintage crockery and well-trimmed hedges, and you’re halfway there. Now, where did we put that croquet set..?
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events in April 2010