18 Extraordinary Experiences Open Now & Coming Soon: December 2023

Each month we share our edit of the experiences opening around the globe that we think are truly extraordinary. Here’s what we think is worth checking out in December 2023.

If you’re working on an Extraordinary Experience you’d like us to consider for a future edition, please share it HERE!

18. Disney: The Castle

Headline and above image; Modern Guru by ENESS, Taiwan; Disney: The Castle, Saudi Arabia

Open now until 14 February 2024
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Experience Sector: Music, Themed Attractions

Disney lovers based in Riyadh are in for a treat this month as the city plays host to Disney: The Castle, which will make its debut in Saudi to kick off the 2023 Riyadh Season before touring worldwide. The brainchild of Balich Wonder Studio, the live music experience at Boulevard City was created in collaboration with Disney Concerts, Propeller Live and Tim Lawson.

The 90-minute, family-friendly event includes concert performances of some of the most popular songs from the Disney playbook, taking in hits from Aladdin to The Lion King. Fans will be immersed in the worlds of the films via pop-up installations dotted around the soaring Disney Castle, which doubles as a stage, allowing them to delve into Frozen’s enchanted forests and explore the Casita from Encanto

17. Squid Game: The Trials

Squid Game: The Trials, Los Angeles

Opens: 6 December
Location: Los Angeles, US
Experience Sector: Competitive Socialising

We can’t get enough of Squid Game spin-offs, it seems. LA is the latest spot to launch an IRL adaptation of the popular Netflix show, where players risk their lives for a cash prize. Taking place on Fairfax Avenue, participants are greeted by the ‘Front Man’ himself and compete in six increasingly difficult challenges inspired by the series to rack up points over the course of 70 minutes.

To win you’ll need nerves of steel, cunning strategy and a healthy dollop of good luck. After breaking a sweat you can refuel with bibimbap and soju-infused cocktails at the Korean Night Market curated by chef Katianna Hong of the Arts District’s Korean-American deli, Yangban, then fill your boots with Squid Game merch.

16. Wagner’s Ring Cycle

Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Australia

Opens: 1-21 December
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

You’ll need the patience of a saint not to fidget your way through Wagner’s 15-hour, four-night Ring Cycle epic, which launches this month at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. We’re particularly excited about this rendition of the operatic classic as the set and visuals have been designed by experiential specialist flora&faunavisions, who have turned the classic tale of gods and giants into a kinetic production to enhance the audio-visual experience.

In it, towering digital panels create an immersive virtual world via video clips that can be triggered by the performers’ movements. Three years in the making, this the first time the Ring Cycle has been performed in Brisbane, and the ground-breaking production by visionary Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng featuring over 100 musicians is due to attract Wagner fans the world over.  

15. The Luminaze

The Luminaze, London

Opens: 2 December 2023 until 2 January 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

It’s December and that can only mean one thing – festive light shows are back in full force in Britain, with everywhere from Kew Gardens to stately homes welcoming visitors into their illuminated worlds. In north London you can head to The Luminaze, a new light-based maze in Wembley Park that’s free and open to all ages, which takes revellers on an outdoor jaunt via cutting-edge neon installations, murals, bespoke scenes and a curated soundscape.

While en route look out for The Hourglass in the middle of the park; a four metre high audio-visual sculpture created by Emergency Exit Arts and light wizards Illuminos that tells stories exploring the themes of home and belonging through animations and audio by local artists.

14. Modern Guru

Modern Guru by ENESS, Taiwan

Open: Now until 14 January 2024
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Experience Sector: Immersive Art

Exploring modern paths to happiness, playful exhibition Modern Guru is the brainchild of Australian tech art studio ENESS, and features glowing landscapes, whimsical mountain scenes and four inflatable installations that incorporate artificial intelligence and real-time interaction with the audience. Taking place at the Eslite Spectrum branch at the Yulong City mall in New Taipei’s Xindian District, the installations are inspired by nature and seek to explore the complex mechanics of the human heart.

The hero piece is an oval-shaped inflatable with four eyes covered in red dots. If you go in for a selfie with the Modern Guru, you’ll receive insights about the essence of happiness from its mouth. You can also climb an inflatable staircase to interact with The Sun God exhibit.

13. World Of AI-magination

World of AI-magination, NYC

Open: 1 December until 17 March 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: AI, Immersive Entertainment

Can human creativity and artificial intelligence happily coexist? ARTECHOUSE explores the idea in its new show, which takes place inside an old boiler room in New York’s Chelsea Market. Blurring the lines between human creation and machine learning, World of AI-magination incorporates original high-resolution visuals that blend traditional 3D animation with generative AI to explore the unquenchable human thirst for wonder.

The aim is to highlight the creative possibilities that can arise from the evolving collaborative relationship between man and machine. Among the exhibits is a 20-minute cinematic experience featuring six scenes, including a Library of Magical Portals featuring books brimming with dreams and algorithms, an ever-evolving Symphony of Illusions, and an Infinite Maze, which takes visitors into multiple parallels.

12. The Great Library Of Tomorrow

The Great Library of Tomorrow, Barcelona

Open: 15 December until March 2024
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Experience Sector: VR, Immersive Entertainment

In an electrifying fusion of fantasy and tech, Belgian dance music festival Tomorrowland is heading to Barcelona in VR form. Called The Great Library of Tomorrow, the immersive experience has been curated by the festival’s founders and Xtended Reality Music Hub. Transcending the boundaries of traditional festivals, the experience will bring the universe of Tomorrowland and its themes to life inside Barcelona’s Aribau Immersive Space.

Open to all ages, The Great Library of Tomorrow takes visitors on an hour-long journey across 1,000 square meters where they will encounter digital art installations that explore the key stories associated with Tomorrowland, from the World of the Great Tree to the Realm of Melodia. The show culminates in a collective VR experience.

11. Wishmas

Wishmas A Fantastical Christmas Adventure by Secret Cinema, London

Open: Now until 7 January 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Themed Attractions

The brilliant minds behind Secret Cinema have launched a whimsical new initiative called Wishmas in time for the festive season. Created by Elgiva Field, associate director of immersive theatre company Punchdrunk, Wishmas takes place in an Old Bauble Factory beneath London’s Waterloo station. Featuring live actors, the experience charts where wishes go after you make them.

Promising an “enchanted realm where your wishes take flight”, attendees get to meet Wishkeepers, Wishmas robins and Father Christmas himself along the way after boarding the Wishmas train. Taking place across several themed rooms, the hour-long experience features puppetry and illusions, alongside a craft market, Christmas-themed gift shop and café selling festive bites from Fortnum & Mason and Pip Organic to keep hungry parents happy.

10. The Break-In

The Break-In, Belgium

Open now
Location: Antwerp, Belgium
Experience Sector: Escape Room, Competitive Socialising

Immersive VR experiences provider The Park Playground has launched its latest location-based entertainment escape room, The Break-in, which immerses players into a fully interactive and personalised story thanks to generative AI. Using cutting-edge VR headsets, The Break-in offers users an untethered adventure as they work together using lateral thinking to solve puzzles, find keycards and navigate lasers to locate a missing artwork that’s been swiped from a guarded vault, while avoiding an enemy team.

The heist-themed story, set in the fictional Crompton Bank, features cinematic moments, slow motion effects and first-of-its-kind in-game mechanics that sees the team having to communicate by scrawling on a virtual windowpane in order to track down the artwork. The integration of AI-generated art gives players a unique experience each time they take part.  

9. Winter’s Dream

Winter’s Dream, New York

Opens: 8 December until March 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

Experience specialists Moment Factory have created a dreamy new immersive attraction in New York in time for the festive season inspired by the natural world. Winter’s Dream takes place across the grounds of the Fort William Henry Historical Fortress in Lake George and features a series of multimedia installations, light and sound projections and an original musical score.

The interactive experience is designed to appeal to all ages, with the hopes of inspiring wonder in younger attendees and sparking nostalgia in older visitors via ethereal video displays, special effects and interactive elements. The walk takes around an hour and includes many a photo opp along the way.

8. Fotografiska Shanghai

Fotografiska Shanghai, China

Open now
Location: Shanghai, China
Experience Sector: Museums & Galleries

Swedish contemporary photography Mecca Fotografiska has opened its latest outpost in Shanghai. Marking its first venue in Asia, the gallery is located in one of three historical warehouses built in the early 20th century on Guangfu Road near Suzhou Creek. The four-story landmark spans nearly 4,600 square meters and comprises spaces for exhibitions, indoor and outdoor event venues, a concept store, and a restaurant and lounge bar overlooking the river.

Fotografiska Shanghai’s opening show features the works of four artists from the East and West: Feng Li, Edward Burtynsky, Fan Xi and Samson Young, which challenge traditional perspectives while bridging the gap between large-scale documentary works and aesthetic experiences. In addition to its Stockholm flagship, Fotografiska has outposts in Estonia, New York and Berlin.

7. Spirit Of Whisky Experience

Spirit Of Whisky Experience, Scotland

Open now
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Experience Sector: Immersive Learning

Following a £3m upgrade of its visitor attraction earlier this year, The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh has unveiled a new ‘Spirit of Whisky’ tour experience, which is the fruit of a collaboration between Hatto + Partners, Douglas Bolton and Creative Technology, who were tasked with designing and executing both the audio-visual production and integration.

Three years in the making, the journey of how Scotch goes from grain to glass is told via immersive storytelling and cutting-edge tech never before seen at a UK visitor experience to bring whisky production to life in vivid detail. Showcase Scotland’s national drink in a compelling contemporary way, guided tours are available in 20 languages. The venue is also home to the world’s largest collection of Scotch, which is worth a look.

6. Chagall, Paris-New York

Chagall, Paris-New York. Photography by Eric Spiller

Open now until 7 January 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Immersive Art

If you’re a fan of violin-playing goats and happen to be in New York then be sure to swing by the latest immersive art exhibit at Hall des Lumières, which shines a light on Russian-born painter Marc Chagall’s whimsical works. Called ‘Chagall, Paris-New York’, the show takes a deep dive into the works of the prolific early modernist painter who defied description, and the two cities that proved pivotal to his output.

As is customary for this format, the works, which take in paintings, sculpture and dazzling stained glass, are projected onto every inch of the exhibition space – an ornate former bank in Lower Manhattan – immersing the viewers in his colourful creations featuring mythical creatures and circus characters that appear to dance across the walls to a classical and jazz score.

5. Book Of Kells

Book Of Kells, Dublin

Open now
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Experience Sector: Immersive Learning

We’ve seen many an artist get the immersive treatment and now it’s the turn of writers as a new immersive exhibition at the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin invites visitors to step inside the pages of a 9th-century Celtic Gospel manuscript known as the Book of Kells. The ancient book is brought to life in glorious detail via stage sets, 360-degree projections, digital mapping, animations and audio storytelling inspired by the Book of Kells and other masterpieces from the Old Library’s collection.

The 90-minute experience allows for a magnified exploration of the book’s intricate artwork and vibrant pigments, while delving into its rich history and cultural significance as Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure. You’ll also have the chance to digitally interact with sculptures of Ada Lovelace, Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare and Mary Wollstonecraft.

4. Luna Park Dream Circus

Opens: 22 December 2023
Location: Sydney, Australia
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

Sydney’s first permanent immersive venue – the Big Top – is launching with a world-first immersive experience called Luna Park’s Dream Circus, following an AU$15m investment. Designed and produced by some of the globe’s best creative minds, including Artists in Motion, TDC and Auditoria, the venue aims to push what is possible when it comes to immersive experiences, live music, live entertainment, festivals and immersive dining.

Billed as a high-tech attraction “where nothing makes sense”, Dream Circus features various stages and makes use of state-of-the-art tech including 360-degree projections, blockbuster surround sound and holograms, taking visitors on a 45-minute dream-like voyage to the circus and beyond. The new venue claims to be one of the most technically advanced environments in Oz. 

3. Space Is The Place

Open now until 4 February 2024
Location: Lausanne, Switzerland
Experience Sector: Museums, Immersive Learning

Fans of intergalactic happenings should hoof it to Lausanne in France to check out Space is the Place, a new exhibition at Mudac that explores the complex relationship between the cosmos and our planet. Bringing together the work of designers, artists and science fiction writers, the show includes two exhibitions and a series of events.

Cosmos examines the universe from Earth, taking in the solar system, black holes and nebulae, and delving into designers’ and artists’ fascination with the laws of astrophysics, observable phenomena and the beauty of the cosmos. Terra, meanwhile, reverses the perspective by looking at the manipulation of our planet from the Age of Enlightenment and the industrial revolution through to the present day practice of cloud seeding.

2. 360: An Extraordinary Experience

360: An Extraordinary Experience, Princess cruise ships

Open now
Location: Princess cruise ships
Experience Sector: Immersive Dining

Luxury cruise ships have been upping their game when it comes to their dining offerings of late, and we’re delighted to see Princess Cruises adding an immersive element to their on-board feasting. Its new dining experience, ‘360’; a 20-person, seven-course extravaganza, heightens sensory perceptions via videos, music and scent to bring to the locations of their dishes to life.

Taking place on crescent-shaped tables with projectors behind them, the journey is narrated by Brooke Shields, who whisks diners to Greece, Italy, Spain and France, where they get the inside perspective from local producers. Expect to feast on tender octopus, spaghetti al limone and beef tenderloin with truffle butter washed down with Drappier Champagne. The banquet ends with lavender honey mousse enhanced by the scent of lavender piped in the room.

1. Bubble Planet

Bubble Planet, London

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

Following on from successful runs in Milan, Los Angeles and Brussels, Bubble Planet has landed in London. Encouraging adults to indulge their inner child, the immersive experience is the brainchild of Fever and Exhibition Hub. The multi-sensory installation features 11 themed rooms that use colours, bubbles, lasers and lights, as well as 360-degree projection technology and a VR component to create a “dream-like” escape from everyday woes.

In the Bubble Getaway, visitors can watch a robot-led bubble show up close, while in Bubble Ocean world, they can swim in a sea of balloons. There’s also the chance to play in a bubble pit, step inside a giant bubble and feel like you’re in Honey I Shrunk The Kids, and watch meditative animations from the comfort of inflatable clouds.