The BNC Grand Dinner

The BNC made event industry history on 13th April when it held the very first corporate dinner at new super playground Kidzania...

Being creative and as curious as ever, The BNC Directors wanted to see if this 'zany' venue would appeal to big kids too, and it certainly did. Over 200 event professionals and suppliers joined together for The BNC Grand Dinner, an annual evening of 'thanks and celebration' for clients and guests of The BNC Shows.

Tucked away in an unassuming corner near M&S in London's Westfields, Kidzania is an oasis of fun for kids of all ages. There are 60 activities to explore over two floors in a 'kid sized' city starting with your 'arrival' through an airport departure lounge complete with check-in desks and boarding passes. Visitors to this multi-million pound complex then take a true exit from reality into a land where time suspends and dreams come true.

With 22 venues all over the world Kidzania has left nothing out in its planning. There are roads and buildings, a city square, shops and offices, a music studio, tv station, recycling plant, football stadium, theatre and more, – even the ceiling is covered with a blue and cloudy sky.

It's a place where kids can be kids – run around and be their own bosses, get messy with chocolate and do lots of dressing up but for grown ups the appeal is just as exciting: be who you always wanted to be, live out a fantasy of an alternative career as a weather presenter, rock star or fire fighter and let all of your stresses disappear as you indulge in childhood dreams. What a great place for a staff party, end of year thank you or incentive.

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The evening started off with a drinks reception with a difference. With Champagne or cocktail in hand guests started their tour of this wonder-city, sampling what it's like to be a chocolatier in Cadbury's, reading an autocue as a live TV presenter in a fully equipped studio, learning how to be a drummer in the Roland Music Academy or acting the part as a member of British Airways' cabin crew academy. Ice cream making in the Walls factory had people queuing up in their dozens!

When playtime was over, the dinner bell rang and guests headed to the main square to eat 'al fresco' on tables of eight. Lots of networking took place over a Payne & Gunter triumphant three-course meal (the vegetarian was particularly outstanding) and on every table, we're sure, there was a 'what did you want to be when you were younger' kind of conversation that a place like Kidzania would inspire.

Speeches on the night from BNC Director Kim Paulden talked of the launch of a new initiative: The BNC Gives Back Corporate Networking Forum (January 17th-21st 2017 in Portugal).

"The events industry is known for having a good time with Champagne so we wanted to do something different and really special," announced Kim Paulden of The BNC Gives Back Forum launch. "We're really excited about this: it's where buyers and suppliers will head to Portugal for three days of really great networking but before they join us, they must have completed some sort of charity work.

"We want to show that BNC members care about the world, care about people. The events industry is a very friendly industry and there are some amazing event managers who share knowledge with each other through The BNC. This is a great industry to be in and we hope you'll come on this journey with us."

After dinner the party headed to Kidzania's mini sports stadium to dance into the night to the live sound of the stunning Urban Soul Orchestra. With glasses in one hand and giant lollipops in the other (taken from the fun table centrepieces!), everyone had a great time.

The BNC recommends Kidzania – just one tip: plan lots of time to explore the city so that your guests don't stamp their feet, drop their shoulders and cry 'but whyyyyyy?' when you call them in for dinner.

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