22 August 2014

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What is the most embarrassing thing you could do at the office Christmas party?


Square Meal does... Bloomsbury Big Top


With organiser Awesome Events gearing up for another busy season at Coram’s Fields, we look back at one of last year’s Cirque de Noel-themed shared nights in the Big Top.

Photos: Richard Heald.

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We arrive early to find our host, Denis McCourt getting stuck in. Wired up to a security headset and wheeling a loaded trolley of equipment, he’s clearly busy, but we’re still given a sneak-peek behind the scenes. The kitchen is starting to buzz, acrobats are limbering up and staff are being briefed on the night ahead. We also see the venue’s new soundproof speaker panels, which we later trial once the party is in full swing (they really do work). We also pop into The Fountain Room nextdoor, which is set up for an exclusive black-tie party for a City insurance firm.

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It’s party time!
As guests begin to arrive, they’re given wristbands with removable tabs that can be exchanged for drinks at the bar. Our group’s a thirsty lot so we’ve purchased a drinks deal on top of our £75 a head party package. An extra £200 (for the group) buys us two bottles each of Champagne, red and white – we’re talking decent wine here, not just any old plonk – as well as bottled water and beer. During the welcome reception, we’re also pleasantly surprised to note that guests are treated to refills on fizz, despite the pre-event info pack suggesting it would be limited to one glass each. Dinner is a seated, three-course affair, served with excellent bread on the side.

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We begin with a delicate goats’ cheese tart, before tucking into a nicely cooked fillet of beef with buttery mashed potato and rich red wine and shallot gravy. A vanilla and red berry panna cotta rounds the meal off nicely. Veggies and those with other dietary requirements are well looked after, with amusing ‘I’m special’ cards on their place settings helping to streamline table service.

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The night’s biggest selling point is the entertainment. You really get your money’s worth: there are stilt walkers, a snake-charmer and casino tables dotted around the room.

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Once seated, we’re treated to a stage show of acrobatic displays, fire breathers and circus performers (TV screens are on hand to provide close-up views for tables further back). Between breaks in the entertainment on stage, a roving magician interacts with guests.

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As dinner ends, the last batch of dancers drag audience members onto the dancefloor for a boogie to Gangnam Style. It’s the start of a disco that continues well into the night, where, with a bunch of dodgy dance moves up our sleeves, we soon become the entertainment ourselves.

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Awesome Events, tel: 0845 644 6510. Shared and exclusive parties will take place at Bloomsbury Big Top on select dates from 29 November-21 December. Prices start at £70pp.

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