18 Extraordinary Experiences Open Now & Coming Soon: April 2024

April has arrived, and with it the chance to eat an indecent amount of chocolate eggs, gawp at baby lamps leaping amid the bluebells, and enjoy an extra hour of sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere. With the weather warming up, it’s the perfect time to venture out and make the most of all the colourful and creative experiences taking place this month.

Joy is celebrated in all its glorious guises at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne. Across the pond in New York, The Great Gatsby and Alice In Wonderland are sources of inspiration for a new musical on Broadway (Gatsby) and a risqué burlesque show in Bushwick (Alice), while in London, Somerset House gears up for gaming and Phantom Peak debuts a new look for spring.

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18. The Atlas Of Es Devlin

Headline and above image; Notre Dame Augmented Exhibition, London, UK; The Atlas Of Es Devlin, New York, US

Open now until 11 August 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Immersive Art

Having worked with everyone from Beyoncé to Adele, British artist and stage designer Es Devlin is being celebrated through a solo show at the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. Known for creating large-scale performative sculptures and environments that fuse music, language and light, the exhibition – An Atlas of Es Devlin – is the first of its kind dedicated to the artist. Renowned for work that transforms audiences, Devlin began her career in 1995 creating kinetic set designs for the likes of the National Theatre and Metropolitan Opera.

Over the past decade she’s adapted her craft to address climate change, and her public installations on endangered species have inspired audiences to reimagine their connections to each other and the planet by shaping stories that reframe our thinking. Sketches, paintings and cardboard models form the seeds of her large-scale structures, and the show dips back into her 30-year archive mapping points that connect her teenage paintings to her stage designs and contemporary installations. Devlin dubbed the result an atlas, giving the show its name.

17. Phantom Peak: Festival Of Innovation

Phantom Peak Festival Of Innovation, London, UK

Open now
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Themed Attractions

Immersive open-world experience Phantom Peak is celebrating spring with a Festival of Innovation and a host of new storylines and plot twists. Keen to keep the goings-on within the steampunk Western town fresh for returners, the spring season sees the launch of 10 new areas to explore and a clever new storyline that delves into the past, present, and future of Phantom Peak. Also new to the venue will be The Innovation Olympics, a competition for townsfolk to display their ingenuity by creating machines that push the limits of nature.

With these new inventions, areas, games and events comes a host of exciting new ways to engage with the townsfolk and play an important role in shaping the narrative, with attendees given the chance to either become a valued member of the Jonaco team or conspire with the resistance. To mark the longer days and lighter nights of spring, The Thirsty Frontier Saloon has launched a number of new spring-inspired cocktails to enjoy during the shenanigans.

16. Joy

Joy, Melbourne, Australia

Open now until 29 August 2024
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Experience Sector: Museums, Immersive Art

We could all use a little more joy in our lives, so we’re delighted to see the Immigration Museum in Melbourne dedicating a show to the topic. Marking its first major exhibition in several years, the exhibition encourages us to lean into what makes us happy. Joy features seven commissioned installations from leading Victoria-based artists rooted in their own individual happy places, or sources of joy, so expect works where colour and storytelling collide into moments of happiness and reflection.

Venezuelan-born Nadia Hernández has filled the museum’s hallway with bold collage works, while fashion designer Nixi Killick has created a ‘joy generator’, queer artist Spencer Harrison has designed a runway where you can strut your stuff, and local artist Beci Orpin has filled a room with a giant toy rabbit ready to be hugged. Keeping things co-creative, visitors can leave their mark on the show by contributing to the ‘share your joy’ wall to spread the good vibes.

15. Gatsby The Musical

Gatsby The Musical, New York, US

Open now until November 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Immersive Theatre

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel encapsulating the greed and glamour of the Roaring Twenties is the gift that keeps on giving, as news reaches us that a musical inspired by The Great Gatsby has just opened on Broadway in New York. The previews have begun and opening night is set for 25 April at the Broadway Theatre. Tony Award-nominated actors Jeremy Jordan and Eva Noblezada will take on the lead roles of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan in the musical, which is directed by Marc Bruni, the man behind Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

The all-singing, all-dancing show will feature songs by Nathan Tysen and Jason Howland. Great Gatsby musicals appear to be like buses at the moment as the Big Apple will also play host to Gatsby this spring, which will be debuting pre-Broadway performances on 23 May at the American Repertory Theater in Queens. With a book by Martina Majok, Gatsby features music and lyrics by Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine fame.

14. Grand Egyptian Museum

Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza, Egypt

Opens: Spring 2024
Location: Giza, Egypt
Experience Sector: Museums

A long time in the pipeline, the finishing touches are currently being put on the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, which is set to open this spring. Designed by Dublin studio Heneghan Peng Architects, the museum has been built for the Egyptian Ministry of Culture to house more than 100,000 pharaonic artefacts from Ancient Egypt. Alongside exhibition space, the venue will boast a children’s museum, conference centre, auditorium, conservation spaces and gardens. Once complete, it will usurp The Louvre in Paris as the world’s largest museum.

Plans for the long-awaited museum began in 1992, when former president Hosni Mubarak set aside a site two kilometres from the Giza pyramids for the project, but construction didn’t begin until 2012. The museum’s collection of pharaonic artefacts will include antiquities from the tomb of King Tutankhamun displayed in full for the first time since they were discovered in 1922. A ritual vessel called the Khufu ship, which was buried next to the Great Pyramid in 2,500 BC, and a sculpture of pharaoh Rameses II will also feature.

13. Hello Brain!

Hello Brain!, London, UK

Open now until 3 December 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive Learning

A new show exploring the intricate workings of the brain at The Francis Crick Institute in London is full of mind-blowing revelations, such as the fact that we have 10 times more neurons in our heads than there are people on Earth. The tiny but mighty show covers a lot of ground, and focuses on areas under investigation by Crick’s researchers, including how flies smell, the cause of hallucinations, how the brain changes during pregnancy and how the different areas of the brain communicate with one another.

It also illustrates the difference in trunk connections in healthy and damaged brains. The show is a must for knitting fans, as it includes hundreds of crocheted neurons dangling from the ceiling. Patterns and materials to create your own yarn-based brain cells are available in the café throughout the show’s run. Aiming to untangle the marvellous and mysterious world inside our heads, it’s a cleverly curated, well-explained and fascinating immersion into the mind.

12. Colour In Bloom

Colour Factory, Chicago, US

Open now until 31 May 2024
Location: Chicago, US
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

Spring has finally sprung and to mark its arrival, the Color Factory in Chicago’s latest exhibition is a blooming marvellous celebration of flowers. Called Color In Bloom, the interactive exhibition highlights the vibrancy and hope of spring via a confetti room, a larger-than-life tulip display and seasonal treats dotted throughout. Expect to see works from Camille Walala, Liz West and Edra Soto.

Located inside Chicago’s landmark Willis Tower, Color Factory features a host of bespoke multi-sensory experiences that highlight the joy-inducing effects of colour. The museum, which has sister sites in New York and Houston, includes a colour maze, sonic landscapes, eye-popping art, and Chicago’s biggest ball pit.

11. Alalaho Core Retreat

Alalaho Core Retreat, Steenwijk, The Netherlands

Opens: 25-28 April 2024
Location: Steenwijk, The Netherlands
Experience Sector: Functional Experiences, Wellbeing

For those keen to expand their minds this month, Alalaho in the Netherlands is hosting a four-day core retreat offering a safe and accessible entry point into psychedelics and other forms of inner exploration and personal growth. The retreat includes exercises and approaches from the Western clinical model, somatic and transpersonal psychology, Tibetan Buddhism and shamanism to explore four key pillars: relationship with self, relationship with others, relationship with nature, and relationship with mystery.

The retreat is aimed at those looking to expand their potential, address blocks in their lives, and transform unwholesome patterns. With close attention paid to onboarding and offboarding to ensure a safe psychedelic experience, the retreat includes a day centred around the taking of psilocybin truffles, which are legal in the Netherlands, to help attendees experience greater freedom, wholeness and creative flow. The next day is dedicated to bathing in the ‘afterglow’ and harvesting vital insights from the experience that can be used and learnt from.

10. Now Play This

Now Play This, London, UK

Opens: 6-14 April 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Gaming

Back with a bang for 2024 is Now Play This at Somerset House, the UK’s leading experimental games festival showcasing the latest in innovative game design from across the globe. Marking its 10th anniversary, this year’s event is bigger and bolder than ever, offering engaging interaction and play for all ages. New for 2024 is a themed initiative called Liminal: Playing Between Worlds. Game highlights include shapeshifting into animals within Argentina’s Atuel River Valley ecosystem and exploring unknown fantasy worlds in Proteus.

Full of games that ask players to think of the way they perceive the spaces around them, and about the way people relate to one another, the show also includes a packed programme of live events, including a build-your-own mini-golf course, a series of behind-the-work talks and a playful exploration of urban space with The Sit-down Super-fun Psychogeography Reading Group. In the evening you can get involved in a twist on a classic murder mystery and take part in a spot of LARP investigating how we alter space and how spaces alter us.

9. Queen Of Hearts

Queen Of Hearts, New York, US

Opens now until 25 August 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Immersive Theatre

Aside from The Great Gatsby, another gift that keeps on giving within the experiential realm is Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, which has been riffed on and reimagined more times than Gershwin’s Summertime. Its latest incarnation is Queen of Hearts, a burlesque romp in Brooklyn. The creation of Company XIV, the risqué ode to the Carroll classic features a heady blend of circus performers, singers, brilliant burlesque, classical dance and daring design.

Taking place at Théâtre XIV on Graffiti Alley in trendy Bushwick – very close to the venue for this year’s World Experience Summit… – the experience begins when you walk through the door and are greeted by some of the show’s colourful characters, one of whom thrusts a glass of champagne in your hand. The evening includes original music, themed cocktails shaken up at the venue’s speakeasy, and more than its fair share of crowd-pleasing aerial stunts. Time Out New York called the show “Moulin Rouge for actual bohemians”. We’re sold.

8. Strange Tales Of The Tang Dynasty

Strange Tales Of The Tang Dynasty, Xi’an, China

Opens now until 25 August 2024
Location: Xi’an, China
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment, VR

Online entertainment service iQIYI has launched its latest Virtual Reality immersive theatre in Xi’an, Shaanxi province. Drawing on its blockbuster original IP, Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty 2: To the West, the VR theatre serves as a testament to iQIYI’s prowess in transforming popular IPs into offline sensations. Created by iQIYI DREAMVERSE, the drama revolves around a commander and an Imperial Guard General as they navigate a series of mysterious cases packed with unexpected twists in the ancient imperial capital of the Tang Dynasty.

The spectacle immerses visitors in ancient Chang’an through a historical reception, live-action performances, and a VR zone powered by motion simulation and spatial audio tech. The reception area creates a buzzy Chang’an street atmosphere, while the live experience area uses film-level set design and non-player characters in Tang Dynasty costumes to immerse the audience in the story. The VR experience area offers a vivid reproduction of the real-life scenes, allowing players to explore the virtual world freely with a VR headset.

7. National Holocaust Museum

National Holocaust Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Open now
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Experience Sector: Museums

A National Holocaust Museum has opened in Amsterdam commemorating the victims of the Holocaust and discussing the consequences of indifference and discrimination in the past and present. Located in the former Dutch Reformed Church teacher training school, where hundreds of Jewish children were smuggled to safety during World War II, the museum features permanent and temporary exhibitions, events and educational programmes.

Visitors learn how the Holocaust was able to happen, and about its victims and perpetrators. Authentic artefacts and locations emphasise the building’s importance during the war, like the spot where children were handed over to members of the Dutch resistance. It is the first and only museum to tell the entire story of the persecution of the Jews of the Netherlands – a history of segregation, persecution and murder, but also of rescue, survival and solidarity.

6. Notre Dame Augmented Exhibition

Notre Dame Augmented Exhibition, London, UK

Open now until 1 June 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive Learning

Travelling interactive exhibition Notre Dame de Paris has landed in London at the fitting venue of Westminster Abbey. Within it visitors can explore the story of the French gothic masterpiece from its origins in the 12th century and its illustrious 850-year history, to its painstaking restoration following the devastating fire of 2019. The show takes you on an interactive journey through Notre Dame’s past including the lavish wedding of King Henri IV, the glittering coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the 19th century construction of Notre-Dame’s iconic spire of Viollet-le-Duc, which was tragically destroyed by the fire.

The exhibition celebrates the skill, artistry and vision over the ages of its architects, craftsmen and builders, and the 21st century experts who are tirelessly bringing it back to its former glory. On arrival visitors are given a HistoPad, a portable, touch-screen tablet revealing key moments in Notre-Dame’s history and restoration. Created by digital heritage specialists, Histovery, and accessible to all ages and tech abilities, the story can be told in 13 different languages and includes audio of the cathedral’s organ and tolling bells, and a projection of the cathedral’s iconic rose windows, which survived the fire.

5. Les Journées de l’Immersif

Les Journées de l’Immersif, Rennes, France

From 22-23 April
Location: Rennes, France
Experience Sector: Immersive

Calling all experience designers based in (or planning on travelling to) France in April. If you find yourself in Rennes then be sure to head to Les Journées de l’Immersif, a two-day event taking place on 22-23 April that will gather the great and good of the immersive experience sector to chew the cud on what comes next for the industry. Uniting the boldest brains in the business, the future-facing event will explore how to create better and more meaningful immersive experiences.

Providing a space for experience designers to meet, get inspired, exchange ideas and generate new opportunities, the second edition of Immersive Days will take place at MeM thanks to the support of Rennes Ville et Métropole. Among the activities taking place during the show will be nugget interventions to inspire, informal workshops geared around discovery and learning, a speed networking event to help attendees forge new connections and a gala dinner.

4. Party Like Gatsby

Party Like Gatsby, Germany and Denmark

Opens: 5 April (Berlin) & 12 April 2024 (Copenhagen)
Location: Germany and Denmark
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

If you can’t get enough of The Great Gastby (and who can?) then you’re in luck this month as fans of the F. Scott Fitzgerland novel will be transported back to 1922 at a pair of Party Like Gatsby events taking place at the Metropol in Berlin on 5 April and Vega in Copenhagen on 12 April. Inviting attendees to dress up in their best flapper-inspired attire and become part of Jay Gatsby’s inner circle, the evening promises “a kaleidoscopic carnival of burlesque, circus performances and dancers – and the world’s biggest 1920s experience.”

Taking place across three continents and 20 countries around the globe, the Grand Extravaganza tour has proved a roaring success so far, gathering over 100,000 guests for the 1920s party to end all 1920s parties. The three-hour event includes world-class circus performers, a live-band and residence DJ. Joint. Partygoers play a role in shaping the narrative, and have to avoid getting arrested for violating the Prohibition laws. Be sure to dress to impress.

3. The Art Of The Brick

The Art Of The Brick, London, UK

Open now until 19 May 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Themed Attractions

Calling all construction enthusiasts! Peripatetic Lego experience The Art of the Brick has opened, rather aptly, on Brick Lane in London. The brainchild of events mavericks Exhibition Hub and Fever, the show features 90 works by Lego ninja (and former New York lawyer) Nathan Sawaya, who is famous for creating eye-popping artworks, including sculptures and mosaics, from the popular Danish toy. For the London show he has reimagined iconic artworks including Michelangelo’s David, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Kimt’s The Kiss in bricks.

More than a million Lego bricks have been painstakingly assembled for the show, which includes a six-metre high Tyrannosaurus Rex and Yellow, depicting a human figure ripping open its own chest, which Sawaya first created over a decade ago from 11,000 yellow bricks. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to use the play and build area to explore their creativity and pore over a multimedia collection of Lego photography produced by snapper Dean West.

2. The Messi Experience

The Messi Experience, Miami, US

Opens: 25 April 2024
Location: Miami, US
Experience Sector: Sport, Immersive Entertainment

We’ve had the Barça immersive experience at Camp Nou in Catalonia’s capital, and now Argentine legend Lionel Messi wants in on the action and will launch his own interactive multimedia show in Miami this month. Called The Messi Experience: A Dream Come True, the show has been developed by Moment Factory and Primo Entertainment, a Miami-based events production company. The experience, which boasts nine interactive zones and thematic installations, allows fans to read a letter by Messi in a recreation of his childhood bedroom and listen to the voice of his grandma telling him to dream big over the phone.

Each zone covers a different period of the star’s life beginning with his childhood in Rosario, through to winning the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. The experience includes games like shooting challenges, where you can learn the tricks and skills of soccer’s GOAT. Fans can also speak to and take a selfie with Messi via avatar tech. The installations make use of 360° projection mapping, 3D visuals, video and artificial intelligence to create an immersive experience of Messi’s life and career. Its creators plan to take the 75-minute show to over 150 countries over the next decade, including stops in Barcelona and Buenos Aires.

1. The Great Murder Mystery

The Great Murder Mystery, London, UK

Open now until 28 April 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

Shelock lovers are in for a treat this month as The Lost Estate’s latest offering is a reimagining the most famous detective story of all time; The Hound of the Baskervilles. Called The Great Murder Mystery, the event encourages attendees to step inside the iconic 221B Baker Street in Victorian London where they will become part of the press and power brokers assembled by Holmes and Dr. Watson clamouring to uncover the truth behind the mysterious Baskerville scandal. As the night draws on, visitors will feast on a three-course meal and cocktails courtesy of housekeeper Mrs Hudson’s well-stocked liquor cabinet.

Helmed by director Simon Pittman of National Theatre fame, the immersive evening is carried by a gripping storyline and stellar cast, who are accompanied throughout by cinematic music from composer Steffan Rees, performed live. The Lost Estate’s executive chef, Ashley Clarke, has ramped up the immersive dining element via brilliant storytelling and fine British ingredients to create a culinary experience inspired by the great dining halls of Victorian London. We like the sound of the spring chicken with black truffle mouse and Pommes Anna, but the Devonshire strawberries and Champagne sorbet was the clincher.