The spirit of Carnival descends on the UK every August. Perhaps it's the extra days off work brought by the two summer Bank Holidays. Maybe it's the lack of big sporting events, or a last throw of the dice before everyone gets back to work in September. Whatever the reasons, this is the month to ditch the team building events and inject a little samba flavour into your corporate away day. Follow my guide to setting up a big, colourful event, and you'll have a real party on your hands!
Play to your venue
A carnival doesn't have to take place in a massive field, but if you've got access to one it'll help. Before you plan your entertainment and start decking out floats, make sure you're aiming your event at the right venue.
Outdoor events are a ton of fun, and can easily accommodate large numbers - making them perfect for rewarding clients and staff with a full-on family shindig. Adapt a fun day to suit your carnival needs, with themed music and a selection of colourful entertainment. Fire-eaters, jugglers and circus acts in general provide a great backdrop for a carnival, and of course a live band is a must.
If you don't have access to outdoor venues, simply adapt your entertainment to fit your interior. Our Brazilian Night is an excellent example of how to cut the world's biggest party down to an appropriate size: read on to find out how we do it.
Light and sound
We use roaming gobo lights and music to create a carnival atmosphere in indoor venues. A gobo is a light with a stencil dropped over it, which makes effective shapes on floor, walls, and ceiling. In addition to carnival-themed shapes, you might want your company logo roaming the dancefloor. Think the grand final of Strictly, with a samba soundtrack.
Backdrops, drapes and table centres
Atmosphere is the key to recreating a big event on a small scale. Our design team spends hours in the workshop, coming up with new settings for indoor parties. For an evening event, the aim is to associate the dinner and entertainment with the theme rather than recreate it exactly: if we're doing a carnival we use brightly coloured table centres to accent the colours in our backdrops.
Food and drink
What your guests eat and drink will set the tone for their whole evening. At a dinner-and-dance-style corporate event, the food and drink is the focus of the first half of the night. Pick a menu full of Caribbean classics, and swap out the usual champagne aperitifs for Caipirinhas or Mojitos.
Think about whether you want your guests to sit down, or mingle in a manner more appropriate to the carnival theme. We've created street food stalls and Caribbean bars before, which make the event completely different from a ‘standard' sit-down affair. Just moving the guests around to get their own food encourages them to mingle more, which can create a free-flowing and memorable evening.
Entertainment in an indoor venue could be either interactive or static: I'd suggest a bit of both. Brazilian carnival drummers, stilt walkers, magicians, a samba band - if it works with the theme it will bring your event to life.
For added memorability, think about bringing in some quick-fire icebreaker activities. Music is the heart of a carnival: a music-themed party piece (we use Tube Grooves) can bridge the gap between eating and dancing perfectly.
So there you have it. The idiot's guide to putting together a samba party for your corporate away day. Let us know if you have tips of your own!