18 Extraordinary Experiences Open Now & Coming Soon: March 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 from March 2023.

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

1. Cirque du Soleil Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities

Cirque du Soleil Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities, London

Opening: 13 January – 5 March 2023
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Live entertainment

Dubbed a “gasp-inducing steampunk celebration of virtuosity” by The Guardian, Cirque du Soleil is back with a bang in London with its latest show at the Royal Albert Hall, which has been extended due to popular demand. Called Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities, the steampunk inspired spectacle is set in an alternate yet familiar past, when a Seeker discovers that in order to glimpse the marvels that lie below the surface we must learn to close our eyes and trust our imaginations.

Celebrating 150 years at the iconic London venue, the Seeker is convinced that a hidden world exists inside his larger-than-life curio cabinet. During the show you’ll find out that he’s right as a motley crew of otherworldly characters step into his makeshift mechanical world and spring to life before his eyes to ignite his imagination. Suitable for all ages, the two-hour performance includes daredevil acrobatics and cunning contortion.

2. The Greatest Night of the Jazz Age

The Greatest Night of the Jazz Age, London

Opening: 1 March 2023 – 31 May 2023
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive entertainment

The Lost Estate has surpassed itself with its latest immersive experience, which transports guests back to 1930s New York ­– the golden age of jazz in the Big Apple. Taking place on an unassuming street in West Kensington, The Greatest Night of the Jazz Age tells the true story of socialite-turned-show girl Belle Livingstone’s 58th Street Country Club; the last and greatest of New York’s Prohibition-era superclubs. Winding the clock back to the club’s opening night, expect crooning horns, theatrical performances, wild dance, stunning sets, classic cocktails and a New York-inspired feast of clam chowder with seaweed butter, smoked featherblade with garlic shrimp, and apple pie with Bourbon caramel.

To recreate the drama, decadence and debauchery of the jazz age, The Lost Estate has enlisted acclaimed dancer and choreographer Eleesha Drennan to direct, with set designs by Darling & Edge and Stargate actor Suanne Braun in the lead role as Belle Livingstone. The sizzling 1930s soundtrack comes courtesy of The 58th Street House Band led by legendary horn player Rory Simmons. With Londoners loving the heady prospect of moonshine meets Manhattan, the event has proved so popular we hear it may be extending its run until June.

3. Oculis Lodge

Oculis Lodge, Washington

Opening: Spring 2023
Location: Washington US
Experience Sector: Immersive travel

Stargazers in the Washington area are in for a treat as a smattering of igloo-like domes have popped up deep in the Cascade Mountains, complete with 15-foot-wide skylights and heated decks with private saunas and hot tubs. As reported by Travel and Leisure, the shiny new Oculis Lodge is designed to help travellers switch off from their busy day-to-day lives and tune into the wonders of the universe, basking in expansive, star-studded skies and finding awe in the remoteness of the mountains. Due to open in spring 2023, each dome features a jacuzzi, fire pit, smart home tech and a heated deck for your morning workout. 

Surrounded by seven acres of land in the small town of Glacier, during your stay you can ski, hike, bike, catch up on some sleep in a hammock or seek out Jupiter via your in-pod telescope through the skylight on the roof of the dome. The 700-square foot pods feature a sleeping loft, kitchen and a bathroom with a giant tub. The structures are made from reclaimed and recycled materials and use 50% less energy to heat and cool than a space of comparable size. The project is the brainchild of the founders of the Igloo Beach Lodge in Costa Rica, a 24-room pod hotel near Espadilla Beach, and is being crowdfunded on Indiegogo.

4. Disney Wonder of Friendship

Disney Wonder of Friendship, the Experience, Global

Opening: May – July 2023
Location: London, Berlin and Paris
Experience Sector: Immersive entertainment

Think Disney is just for kids? Think again. The magic maker has just launched an immersive experience for adults across three key cities: London, Paris and Berlin, to mark its centenary. Called ‘Wonder of Friendship: The Experience’, the event takes visitors on a journey through some of Disney’s best-loved characters, celebrating 100 years of dynamic duos and unlikely pals. Taking place in former brutalist office block 180 The Strand, which has carved a niche for cutting-edge video art, the London show features 1,000 square metres of installations themed around Alice in Wonderland, Lilo & Stitch and The Lion King .

According to Time Out, you’ll be able to venture down Alice’s rabbit hole to her ‘Garden of Mystery’ filled with ‘bread-and-butterflies’, catch some waves at Lilo & Stitch’s Ohana Bay and dance with Donald and Goofy in the ‘Wonderverse’. Weaving tech into the mix, characters will come to life in full AR glory with the scan of a QR code. The multi-sensory pop-up is being targeted at young adults but is open to everyone over the age of eight. To help lodge the memories in your mind long after the experience has ended, visitors will each receive a bespoke Disney memento and will have the chance to take ‘one-off photos’ throughout.

5. The Curse at Alton Manor

The Curse at Alton Manor, Stoke-on-Trent

Opening: Spring 2023
Location: Stoke-on-Trent, UK
Experience Sector: Themed attractions

UK theme park Alton Towers has a spine-tingling new ride. Due to open this spring, The Curse at Alton Manor takes riders on a “hair-raising journey through the spectacular twists and turns of the cursed Manor”. Feeding into the narrative, the backstory states that the abandoned Alton Manor has been repossessed under mysterious circumstances, so parkgoers need to have their wits about them as they delve deeper into the haunted lair.

The ride is set to be the resort’s darkest – and most immersive – to date, and promises thrill, spills and terrifying moments along the way. There are no spoiler alerts here though, as Alton Towers is keeping details of the ride under wraps to make it all the more chilling for those experiencing it for the first time.

6. WildWoods Aglow

WildWoods: AGLOW

Opening: 1 January 2023 – 5 March 2023
Location:
Atlanta, US
Experience Sector: Museums and attractions

Catch it while you can, the dreamy WildWoods Aglow experience takes visitors on an ethereal journey into the magnificent and sometimes hidden worlds of nature. Taking place at night at Fernbank’s Museum of Natural History, through the power of captivating illumination, immersive projections and an original musical score to curate an innovative approach to storytelling, WildWoods Aglow beckons guests into an awe-inspiring nocturnal wonderland of biodiversity.

Inspired by the native flora and fauna that thrive in the 10 acres of woodlands the experience is spread across, this multi-sensory experience reveals the wonder of wildlife through an immersive blend of the real environment and glowing displays. See roots spread into towering trees and giant seeds emanate with interactive light while engaging with glowing mushrooms and nocturnal creatures in this joyous celebration of nature at its most mysterious.

7. Department of Wonder  

The Department of Wonder, Texas

Opening: Now open
Location: Texas, US
Experience Sector: Themed attractions

Sounding like something Alice would approve of, the Department of Wonder is the latest attraction to launch at the whimsically-named Sugar Land in Texas. The mind-bending immersive fantasy experience transports visitors to an enchanted forest where they’ll take part in a hands-on story-telling adventure. Brought to life by a crack team of designers, storytellers, and Academy Award–winning directors and producers, the goal of the experience is to remind both children and adults alike of the importance of maintaining a vivid imagination.

Blending theatre, tech, interactive fantasy, colourful characters and Instagram-worthy immersive environments, during the experience, ‘Light Hunters’ are invited to heed the Lamp Maker’s call and help restore the magic and brightness to an enchanted forest and its creatures before they both fade away. Through deciphering puzzles and solving mysteries, the attraction, spread across 10,000–square feet, rewards curiosity and is best enjoyed as a co-creative experience.

8. Cabinet of Curiosities

Cabinet of Curiosities, Paris

Opening: 17 March
Location: Paris, France
Experience Sector: Immersive entertainment

We love the sound of this curious Parisian experience from the team at Eat the Cake Studio. Taking place in a secret Paris location revealed to revellers 48 hours before the adventure begins, this interactive experience is intimate in the extreme and ideal for nosey parkers, as it encourages guests to open different doors within the cabinet to reveal the quirky characters lurking behind them, from a bearded lady to a voodoo priestess, who are keen to share their stories.

According to Eat the Cake Studio, “no experience has ever allowed you to interact so closely with the characters”. The clandestine venue has been decked out to evoke a plush, Victorian-era private members’ club, and will open its doors for one night only each month across an early evening and late-night sitting, which includes drinks (bottomless bubbles), dancing and feasting. To keep regulars on their toes, each month a new troop of characters will take up residence in the cabinet.

9. The Nest

The Nest, Los Angeles

Opening: Now open
Location: Los Angeles, US
Experience Sector: Immersive theatre

From the Hatch Escapes team comes The Nest, an intimate live experience combining elements of immersive theatre, video games and escape rooms. Equipped with a flashlight and cassette deck, attendees will explore the winding corridors of a storage unit once owned by a woman named Josie. By examining her personal effects and listening to the audio diary she left behind, participants will piece together the surreal, heartbreaking and beautiful narrative of Josie’s life, and in so doing, come to realise how precious memories are.

The Los Angeles Times called the hour-long experience “the best live-action video game in LA”. While borrowing from the escape room playbook via simple-to-solve puzzles, The Nest is more of an immersive theatre experience that encourages attendees to take their time to fully soak up the experience rather than whiz through it at warp speed. Having first come to light in 2017, the new and improved 2023 version, written by Jeff Leinenveber and Jarrett Lantz, and created by Scout Expedition Co., boats a better location, set design and narrative arc.

10. The Locksmith’s Dream

The Locksmith’s Dream, Wales

Opening: Now open
Location: Monmouthshire, Wales
Experience Sector: Immersive entertainment

Inspired by Secret Cinema and Punchdrunk’s immersive theatrical experiences, The Locksmith’s Dream is a genre-defying, immersive overnight experience filled with narrative twists and mind-bending puzzles that sees attendees step into a 17th century manor house trapped in a 1920s time warp. After settling into your room, guests are invited to unravel narrative mysteries, solve puzzles and soak up the unique atmosphere of the Grade I-listed manor house and its grounds in the stunning Monmouthshire countryside.  

During your stay you’re encouraged to join fellow guests in sifting through the history of the house and its previous inhabitants, seeking clues from the curious staff members who seem deeply connected to the property. Each overnight stay includes a candlelit dinner and a masked soirée in ‘the house of the moon’. An experience designer’s dream, this is immersive theatre, luxury travel and an occult-inspired scavenger hunt rolled into one.

11. The Dive at Wax Cave

The Dive at Wax Cave

Opening: 3-4 March
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive theatre

Inspired by elements of psychological horror, magic realism and cosmic horror, The Dive at Wax Cave is for those who are curious about getting better acquainted with the dark side of the human psyche. The experience uses strobe lighting, VFX and sound design to take an audience of up to eight ‘divers’ on a cave-diving expedition that goes wrong due to supernatural forces. The first iteration of the experience previewed at Encounters Festival in 2022, where it sold like hotcakes.

Creators Stormjar Studio – an immersive experience studio reimagining horror for a modern audience headed up by Sophie-Alicia Shaw and Jim Wheale, who met at a zombie apocalypse event in 2015 and have been making spooky experiences ever since – has fine tuned the experience, bringing it to Theatre Deli’s SHIFT+SPACE in London’s Leadenhall Street for two nights only in March. The short run will serve as a litmus test for the show, which Stormjar plans to take on tour to real caves all over the UK. Dealing with heavy topics, including violence, claustrophobia and drowning, the experience is designed for those aged 15 and over.

12. Journey Restaurant

Journey, New York

Opening: Open now
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Immersive dining

With people seeking more bang for their buck post pandemic, experimental dining is on the rise, as eating out morphs into the entertainment equivalent of a night at the theatre. Keen to jump on the trend is new immersive dining experience Journey near Madison Square Park in New York, where guests can have dinner inside a ‘volcano’ complete with smoking table, dishes under cloches billowing with dry ice, a glowing red room and the sound of oozing lava.

Chowing down inside a molten furnace may not be everyone’s idea of a fun night out, but we admire Journey’s gumption for giving it a go. Celebrating the connections we make on our travels, the venue bills itself as a ‘theatrical gastronomy’ restaurant, and brings its various dining environments to life through cutting-edge projection mapping tech paired with high-end dining and innovative drinks. The travel theme is amped up via a collection of antique globes, 3D sculptures of famous landmarks and a projection wall of moving masterpieces.

Cocktails come with complimentary AR skits from the likes of whiskey professor Ben Vereen, while dishes in the café have hidden 3D designs that can be unlocked via an app. The venue offers two multi-sensory dining experiences: Journey Odyssey and Journey 360, featuring vignettes from Broadway actors who introduce the five courses that take diners on a gastronomic jaunt around the world, from the Amazonian rainforest to the arctic via a volcano and an underwater shipwreck.

13. TableMation Studios 3D dinner series

TableMation Studios 3D dinner series, US

Opening: Open now
Location: Across the US
Experience Sector: Immersive dining

The multisensory dining trend is clearly catching fire in the US, as immersive dining specialist TableMation Studios is also in on the act. Blending cutting-edge projection tech with art, music and fine food, the firm made its dining debut at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills in November to rave reviews, and has since taken its show on the road across America. Its whimsical new four-course interactive dining experience – Nya & Ned Save The World – will premiere at Napa’s Culinary Institute of America at Copia, The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay and the Four Seasons in Austin.

The culinary extravaganza, which saw artists, musicians, animation studios, and Hollywood writers pool their creative talents, is said to have taken over 50,000 hours to create, and features state-of-the-art laser projectors that beam 4K visuals across the table, giving every guest a front-row seat to the action. Set to an original score, the meal includes character dialog to add a live action element. Over the course of the dinner guests are taking on a wild ride across the globe by chefs Nya and Ned, culminating in a “thrilling climax” at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

14. Desert X

Desert X x Rana Begum, No.1104 Catching Colour. Photography by Angus Mill

Opening: 4 March – 7 May
Location: California, US
Experience Sector: Immersive art

If you like your art with a generous dose of sunshine then head to the Coachella Valley in Palm Springs this March for a fascinating collision of artistic mediums and minds. A dozen artists from around the globe, including London-based Rana Begum and New Yorker Torkwase Dyson, will transform the valley into a giant art installation in the desert for the fourth edition of the festival. Curated by Neville Wakefield and Diana Campbell, each artist has produced a work inspired by – and that responds to – the desert landscape. The artists are cast in the role of storytellers, bridging the gap between global issues and individual responsibility and experience.

The works cover a variety of emotive themes, from migration, archetypes of the American West and conspiracy theories to changing notions of masculinity via performance, sculpture and film set against the dramatic backdrop of the desert.  Campbell described the works to Artnet as “artistic interventions that make visible how our energy has a transference far beyond what we see just in front of us in our own localities.” Wakefield added: “There’s a saying that a place is a story happening many times. This idea of place as the multiplicity of stories flowing through it is central to Desert X.”

15. The Spaces in-Between

The Spaces in-Between at the Outernet, London

Opening: Open now
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive art

Pushing boundaries in experiential art, the Outernet London crew have launched a new artwork that responds to people’s body movements, making visitors co-creators in the work. The brainchild of immersive experience studio Pixel Artworks and visual light artist Rupert Newman, The Spaces In-Between enables the public to sync their body movements with an epic digital light artwork on what Outernet claims is the largest digital canvas in the world. As you move through the gallery space, the screens move with you, creating a genuinely immersive art experience in an increasingly crowded and competitive market.

Best of all, the experience is free, opening the doors of the often intimidating art world to a wider audience. The show features three works: Tessellations, Transcendence, and A Step Beyond, which have been brought to life across the four storey Outernet district – Europe’s largest digital exhibition space. The art is accompanied by an original score by composer Sarah Warne to enhance the experience of feeling enveloped by the works. “Spaces In-between proves that breathtaking art can be accessible to everyone and experienced in the most unlikely spaces. It’s an open invitation for anyone to explore a non-traditional art form in a non-traditional way,” said Dan Alldis of Pixel Artworks.

16. Shadowing Chef David Yoshimura

Nisei, US

Opening: Open now
Location: San Francisco, US
Experience Sector: Immersive
cooking

Continuing with our foodie theme, if you find yourself in the Golden State and feel like being put to work then Japanese restaurant Nisei is offering people the chance to experience a day in the life of a top-end chef, but you’ll have to pay a tidy sum for the privilege of pot-washing. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, a day shadowing David Yoshimura, the head chef and founder the Michelin-starred SF venue, costs a princely $1,000. The experience, available to just one customer each Saturday, consists of going to the Ferry Plaza farmers’ market with Yoshimura to hunt for turnips, persimmons and pine.

Back in the kitchen, you play an important supporting act in prepping for a an 11-course feast, which you’re invited to enjoy after chopping pickles, flambéing bananas and descaling anchovies. The concept of paying a high price to work a shift at a restaurant may seem odd, but what foodies are paying out for is the access it provides – the chance to get up close and personal to a top culinary brain and peer behind the curtain of one of the city’s best restaurants to see the mechanics of how the well-oiled machine works, minute-to-minute.

The 12-hour shift forces you to appreciate the process behind how luxury experiences are created. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime dissection of the high-calibre kitchen organism. If we think of fine dining restaurants as producers of edible art, this immersive experience lets diners not only eat it, but make it, too,” says restaurant critic Cesar Hernandez.

17. ForRest Room

ForRest Room, Stockholm

Opening: 1-2 March
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Experience Sector: Immersive
art

Swedish photography powerhouse Fotografiska in Stockholm is giving nature lovers the chance to spend the night at the museum and sleep inside a giant indoor forest, giving adventurers all the feels of the forest minus the danger. The cleverly titled, vegetation-filled ‘ForRest Room’ forms part of the museum’s In Bloom exhibition and offers frazzled city dwellers the chance to experience the serenity of nature without leaving Stockholm. Stays cost £198 and include a five-course dinner and breakfast, along with entry to In Bloom, which features photographs that explore the links between nature and art. Proceeds from the pop-up will go to Naturavet, which is working to preserve Swedish forests.

If you’re interested in a night at the museum then you’ll have to get in quick as the ForRest Room is only open for three nights, from 28 February to 2 March, and there’s only space for two guests per night, though the room will be open during the day for exploration until the end of April. Stockholm winters are harsh and a desire to go back to nature peaks during this bleak period. “We are constantly seeking new and exciting ways to enhance our guests’ experience. We aim to make it fun and magical to spend your time here, and it is thrilling to offer an overnight stay for the first time,” Elin Frendberg, executive director at Fotografiska Stockholm, told The Independent.

18. Batman Escape

Batman Escape, Paris

Opening: Spring 2023
Location: Paris, France
Experience Sector: Escape room

In Paris, Warner Bros. and DC have teamed up with Dama Dreams to bring Gotham City’s dark underbelly to life via a series of escape rooms. Called Batman Escape, the experience, said to be the largest escape game in France, will unfold at Boom Boom Villette, a 3,000 square metre entertainment space in central Paris. Expect actors, immersive storylines and themed surroundings that thrust you into the world of the caped crusader. The experience includes three 70-minute escape room scenarios for teams of four to six.

Manned by live actors, you can choose to get up close and personal with the Joker during an exclusive interview, test your wits during your first day as a police officer by trying to decipher a cryptic gift from the Riddler, or be sent on a secret mission inside the bat cave. After the thrills and spills of the escape room you can kick back with a cocktail at the Gotham City Lounge. For another example of Batman given the immersive treatment, check out our review of Park Row here.

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DUNDU Giants of Light
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DUNDU Giants of Light so good, thanks for that overview