20 Extraordinary Experiences Open Now & Coming Soon: June 2024

Welcome to this month’s round-up of Extraordinary Experiences from across all experience sectors and around the globe.

June is upon us, which means two things: the start of the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, and the arrival of the second edition of the World Experience Summit, which will unite the great and good of the experience community in New York.

The month kicks off with a pair of one-night-only events at Nuit Blanche in Paris, a citywide celebration of art, dance and theatre, and White Night in the Australian city of Ballarat, an evening of illuminations, projections and music to mark the arrival of winter.

The natural world is also being put under the microscope this month at an array of educational experiences with important environmental messages behind them. Brilliant birds are given centre stage at the Natural History Museum in London, while beautiful bugs are celebrated at Imaginari in New York.

In Germany, art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast has created a forest bathing experience at a thermal spa, while French firm Sensory Odyssey Studio has taken its audiovisual experience to Beijing, where you can watch mushrooms grow, hear flowers bloom and feel the wind beneath flamingos’ wings. It’s like Beaches without the weepy ending…

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

20. Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion

Headline and above image; Iconic at the Drive Volkswagen Group Forum created by flora&faunavisions, Berlin, Germany; Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, New York, US

Open now until 2 September 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Museums

The Met has gone all out with its latest exhibition – Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, which promises to not only be a visual feast, but will stimulate all the senses. Curated by the Met’s Costume Institute – and worked on by WXO Member Eric Alba – the show is a hands-on affair, allowing visitors to sniff, touch, and even hear the clothing, not just ogle it. With over 200 garments from the 1600s to today on display, the exhibition is the largest and most ambitious in the Costume Institute’s history in terms of range and scope. Cherry picking from an archive of over 33,000 garments, the show breathes new life into these sleeping beauties, using video animations to revive and reimagine items too fragile to be on show. 

Thinking outside of the box, the clothes have been given a new lease of life by the team at Sissel Tolaas Studio, who extracted scent molecules from the fabrics to identify and replicate the smells for visitors, which include tobacco, beauty products, roses and toothpaste. In several of the show’s installations you can sniff the aromas through tubing, while in others you can rub the wall to release the aroma. We’re excited to see scratch ‘n’ sniff tech being used in this elevated way. Sound is also taken into account at the exhibition ­– a Morgan Spector reading of the poem In Flanders Fields is piped through speakers in a room dedicated to poppies featuring Isaac Mizrahi‘s Exploded Poppy dress.

19. Viola’s Room

Viola’s Room, London, UK

Open now until 18 August 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive Theatre

The latest experiential sucker punch from maestros Punchdrunk promises “an audio-driven journey through a moonlit fever dream”, in which a barefoot, headphone-wearing audience has to feel their way through a labyrinthine installation as an unseen narrator reveals a story of innocence lost and obsession unleashed. And if that wasn’t intriguing enough, the production has been adapted by Booker Prize-shortlisted Daisy Johnson and is narrated by the ever-brilliant Helena Bonham Carter, who distils two decades of Punchdrunk’s immersive experience into an intimate and chilling sensory adventure.

Taking place at The Carriageworks in London’s Woolwich, Viola’s Room is a remake of an early Punchdrunk show called The Moon Slave; which itself is an adaptation of an eerie early 20th century short story by Barry Pain about a strong-willed princess who is drawn to an ancient, forbidden maze. In the Punchdrunk production, groups of two to six start off by attending a sleepover where they’ll be read a bedtime story that bleeds and feeds into Pain’s tale. Gareth Fry is in charge of the sound design for the hour-long show, which represents a change of gear for Punchdrunk with its more intimate feel.

18. Forest Bathing Lupuna

Forest Bathing Lupuna, Euskirchen, Germany

Opens now
Location: Euskirchen, Germany
Experience Sector: Health & Wellbeing

Germany’s Therme Euskirchen wellness complex in the town of the same name has launched an immersive experience that fuses nature and tech. Called ‘Forest Bathing Lupuna’, the multi-sensory experience unfurls in the venue’s new Immersive Sky room and is the brainchild of art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast. The tranquil experience takes in sound, scent, movement and imagery and tells story of the mighty Lupuna tree in the Amazon rainforest, and the Queen of the Night flower, which blooms after dark for a single night.

The visual narrative is divided into three segments that chart 24-hours in the rainforest. Beginning with ‘awakening’, you’ll see the forest at dawn, and the dance of its floating leaves, mirroring your floating state. Next up comes ‘ascension’, which moves into night and the mist that envelops the rainforest alongside the sweetness of the night flowers. The final stage, ‘becoming’, reveals the nocturnal unveiling of the Queen of the Night flower, which blooms in darkness before withering at daybreak. The experience lasts 24 minutes and is designed to support concentration while relaxing the mind.

17. The Great Gotham Challenge

The Great Gotham Challenge, New York, US

Opens: 8 June until 15 June 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Competitive Socialising

New York’s legendary immersive puzzle adventure, The Great Gotham Challenge, is back for its 10th year in June. The highly competitive event will see sleuths in teams of two to four compete in a heated battle of code breaking and riddle-solving. Participating teams will race against the clock to find and decode a series of interactive clues that intertwine with New York’s rich cultural history.

The first team to complete the challenge and arrive at the final destination will be awarded a grand prize, which is currently being kept under wraps. Challengers will have to interact with Cluemasters through voice and text throughout the event to crack the various codes and clues. The secret starting location of the event will be shared 24 hours before the challenge begins.

16. Topsy-Turvy Tasting Menu

Topsy-Turvy Tasting Menu, Bray, UK

Opens now until 30 June 2024
Location: Bray, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive Dining

Culinary alchemist Heston Blumenthal, who holds three Michelin stars at The Fat Duck in Bray, has always challenged conventions when it comes to food and our perception of it, from flipping the idea of sweet and savoury on its head with his bacon and egg ice cream, to heightening the eating experience with his multi-sensory ‘Sound of the Sea’ dish, which comes with a pair of headphones piping out the sounds of crashing waves and squawking seagulls. For his latest trick the chef has launched a Tospy-Turvy tasting menu that begins with dessert then moves towards more savoury dishes, finishing with a nitro apéritif cocktail. 

The menu includes Fat Duck classics ‘Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop’ and ‘Sound of the Sea’ alongside retro classics like Black Forest Gateau (the menu’s opening gambit) and Beef Royale. “I found the Topsy-Turvy tasting menu gratifyingly gut-friendly and satisfyingly gastronomic. It triggered some of the taste buds at their most receptive,” Heston said. “Eating in reverse might seem a bit wacky – more Duck Fat than Fat Duck – but it took my imagination on a fantastic journey of culinary curiosity. It’s good to shake things up and take a second look at our perceptions and preconceptions.”

15. The Insect World

The Insect World, New York, US

Opens now until April 2025
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Immersive Learning

Shiny new immersive art and science venue Imaginari in Manhattan wants us to shake off our misconceptions of insects and appreciate the beauty of bugs. It’s inaugural exhibition – The Insect World – shines a light on how important these critters are for our ecosystem, with insects accounting for a whopping 80% of the world’s species. At the show you’ll get up close with a Picasso bug (a patterned creature native to Africa), ogle larger-than-life ladybird sculptures in flight, marvel over 200 monarch butterflies perching on a 12-foot cherry tree, and see a praying mantis partying under a disco ball like the diva she is.

While enormous fun, there’s a serious message about environmental stewardship behind the awe-inspiring installations, and visitors are given a pack of flower seeds to take home and plant. The venue is the brainchild of Linda Uribe, who hopes the show will inspire people to take on conservation activities in the local communities. With their bright iridescent colours and unique patterns, Uribe believes insects are “the jewellery of nature”.  During the show’s run the space will host a slew of nature-themed events, including a floral design class, a beekeeping workshop, and a talk on sustainable landscape architecture.

14. Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche, Paris, France

Opens: 1 June 2024
Location: Paris, France
Experience Sector: Immersive Art

Taking place in Paris for one night only on Saturday 1 June, Nuit Blanche at the Maif Social Club will feature never-before-seen immersive installations. This year’s show veers off the beaten track and will include several free events open to all, who are at liberty to roam the exhibition by night. Marking the 22nd year of the citywide event, Nuit Blanche celebrates contemporary creativity through over 200 artistic events that spring up across the City of Light for one night only.

This year, Compagnie Corps Magnétiques will be on hand at the Maif Social Club to present its sound and visual installation ‘Corps Sonores’, an immersive experience that “takes you back to your own bodies for a moment of listening”. There will also be the chance to co-create a giant fresco artwork in a masterclass hosted by a local Parisian artist who will be focusing on the theme of the body. The class will explore the theme of human connections and how to build them. 

13. Architectural Blasting Chamber

Architectural Blasting Chamber, Paris, France

Opens: 1 June 2024
Location: Paris, France
Experience Sector: Immersive Art

No shrinking violets, experiential design duo Bompas & Parr have surpassed themselves with their latest endeavour, having launched a firework design competition that will come to its explosive finale at this year’s London Festival of Architecture. Keen for entrants to “push the boundaries of pyrotechnic artistry”, the boys will set up an Architectural Blasting Chamber experience at the show featuring the most ground-breaking submissions and winners.

Promising “an experience so immersive you will be in the centre of an explosion”, guests will be invited to wear special PPE, select from an array of powerful fireworks and enter a custom built exploding chamber, which is entirely fireproof and features military-grade extraction systems. Once inside you’ll light your firework and brace yourself for an almighty eruption. “It’s an opportunity to ignite creativity and innovation at the intersection of architecture and pyrotechnics,” said Harry Parr.

12. Smellephants On Parade

Smellephants On Parade, Orlando, US

Open now
Location: Orlando, US
Experience Sector: Olfactory Experience

Hoping to tap into the nostalgic links between scent and memory, Disney has installed a fleet of ‘Smellephants’ at its Magic Kingdom in Florida. The fruit of a collaboration with Scentsy, the interactive Smellephants on Parade attraction is a ‘search and sniff’ experience at the theme park’s Storybook Circus. On entry guests will see a casting call posted by Timothy Q. Mouse seeking a “whiff-sistant” to join Dumbo’s newest act. At the ticket booth in front of Big Top Souvenirs, a cast member gives guests an illustrated map and sticker sheet.

The experience challenges visitors to find eight Smellephant statues dotted around Storybook Circus, using the stickers and map to track their progress. Each of the Smellephants emits a different scent, from popcorn to candy floss. Believing scent to be “the most powerful human sense”, Disney has a history of enhancing smells to make the guest experience more magical and memorable. Every resort has a signature fragrance and Disney uses ‘Smellitzers’ to pump out nostalgic scents throughout its parks, from apple pie to hibiscus flowers.

11. Iconic

Iconic at the Drive Volkswagen Group Forum, Berlin, Germany

Open now
Location: Berlin, Germany
Experience Sector: Immersive Learning

There’s no stopping flora&faunavisions, as the immersive experience creator has lent its magic to new show in Berlin. Called Iconic, the free exhibition at the Drive Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin explores era-defining icons of the past, present and future across eight decades, from the quirky VW Beetle and sleek Porsche 911 to revolutionary painter Jackson Pollock and recent disruptor ChatGPT. The show highlights the cultural impact of these inventions and inventors, and how they helped to open up new perspectives.

At the heart of the exhibition is Icons World, an interactive immersive room created by flora&faunavisions focused on icons of the future. Inside, the room’s multimedia projections bring architectural worlds and technologies to life. The 12-minute interactive loop is divided into three chapters, projected in 270° glory, and features tech, architecture and vehicles that have what it takes to become future icons. The room encourages interaction via touch-sensitive buttons and invites visitors to communicate with IDA, an empathetic AI assistant.

10. Helsinki Happiness Hacks

Helsinki Happiness Hacks, Helsinki, Finland

Opens: 9-14 June 2024
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Experience Sector: Health and Wellbeing

Despite its long, cold, dark winters, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for seven years in a row, so they must be doing something right. Keen to share the secrets to living well, Visit Finland is hosting a week-long Happiness Hacks retreat, allowing a select few a glimpse into the Finnish mindset with the hope of bottling some of the magic. The retreat comes on the back of a successful happiness masterclass hosted by Visit Finland last year.

During the five-day event, participants will learn from a trio of ‘Happiness Hackers’ who will share useful tips they can apply to their everyday lives. The hacks will highlight four key themes of Finnish happiness: nature and lifestyle; health and balance; design and everyday; and food and wellbeing, and activities include forest bathing and wild swimming. “Finnish happiness boils down to the simple things in life: connecting with nature, caring for one’s mind and body, and appreciating the art around us,” said Heli Jimenez of Visit Finland.

9. Enitan’s Game

Enitan’s Game, London, UK

Opens: 14 June until 1 September 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive Theatre

We love pretty much everything Punchdrunk turns its hands to, so are excited for the launch of its latest endeavour: Enitan’s Game, an immersive theatre experience designed for children aged 6-11 and their families. Set to run until 1 September at the shiny new Punchdrunk Enrichment Stores in Wembley Park, Enitan’s Game is the brainchild of co-creators Mia Jerome and Peter Higgin, and features a collaborative script penned by Jerome, designer Casey Jay Andrews, director Omar F. Okai, and games consultant Simon Maeder.

The show weaves storytelling elements with interactive gameplay and centres around Enitan and her friend Ged, who embark on adventures collecting objects and stories. A game created by Enitan’s grandfather becomes the focal point of the story, offering strength and growth through its play during times of sadness. Featuring lighting and video by Sarah Readman, and sound from Dominic Kennedy, the experience promises to create an environment that’s not only visually compelling but also rich in auditory experience.

8. Sensory Odyssey

Sensory Odyssey, Beijing, China

Open now until 20 October 2024
Location: Beijing, China
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

Having already blazed a trail in Toronto and Rio, immersive experience Sensory Odyssey has landed in Beijing at the Keyi Art Museum in Wanda Plaza. Taking visitors on a deep dive into different parts of the planet, the show slows nature down, giving you the chance to see how mushrooms grow, hear the sound of flowers blooming, breathe in the smell of the rainforest after a downpour, and feel the air flow beneath the flapping wings of flamingos. Masterminded by French firm Sensory Odyssey Studio, the Beijing experience was co-created by Shanghai-based China Dream Live Entertainment and aims to help visitors reconnect with nature, inspiring them to care more deeply about the planet.

Sensory Odyssey features video footage from an array of habitats accompanied by sensory effects, such as scent and wind, to enhance the immersive experience. It begins in the wilderness of Kenya where lions and zebras brace themselves for a thunderstorm. It then heads to the Peruvian rainforest before venturing underground with tunnel-digging moles, winding up in the sea among water-spraying whales. “Our content is magnified to allow you to hear, see, smell and feel nature like never before. We give you a superpower to change the way you relate to the world,” says founder, Gwenael Allan.

7. Aya Universe

Open now
Location: Dubai, UAE
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

Entertainment disruptors HyperSpace have struck gold again with their latest immersive venue – Aya Universe in Dubai – located in the heart of Wafi City Mall. Stepping across the threshold, you’ll soon forget you’re inside a shopping venue as you venture through its luminous gardens, explore its interstellar observatories, and visit various vibrant worlds. Each zone within the universe offers a unique experience, from commanding galaxies to dancing with light, allowing visitors to explore the wonders of the universe with fresh eyes.

Its founders want visitors to “play, drift and dream” as they command observatories full of stars, roam gardens blooming with light and traverse rivers that bridge the infinite. The entertainment park spans 40,000 square feet and is filled with state-of-the-art tech and cutting-edge designs. Every detail has been meticulously crafted to enhance the visitor experience, from epic light displays and captivating soundscapes to the river of colour flowing through the park.

6. House Of Dreamers

House Of Dreamers, Paris, France

Open now until 31 August 2024
Location: Paris, France
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

Following successful runs in Milan, Madrid and Rome, Paris is the latest city to host the House of Dreamers experience, which will be brightening the halls of the Carrousel du Louvre with its artistic installations this summer. Sending visitors down the rabbit hole on an audio-visual journey into the weird and wonderful world of dreams, the House of Dreamers is part exhibition and part stroll through an otherworldly universe.

Aided by artistic staging and interactive installations, visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the world of dreams via colourful sets, fantastical projections, and cutting-edge light and sound tech. Created by Italian designers Elena and Giulia Sella, the show is full of Instagram gold, and features giant ball pools, upside-down rooms, a multicoloured dance floor and a dining room filled floor-to-ceiling with roses. It’s very Alice in Wonderland and we’re here for it.

5. Global Sleep Symposium

Global Sleep Symposium, New York, US

Opens: 19-21 June 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Health and Wellbeing

Sleep is the new sex and we’ve all become obsessed with how much we’re getting, where we’re getting it, and how to get better at it. Those keen to optimise their time between the sheets can head to the inaugural Global Sleep Symposium in New York hosted by Equinox Hotels. Hoping to redefine the landscape of sleep tourism, the event will unite global experts in sleep health with Equinox’s bespoke itinerary centred on movement, nutrition and regeneration. Taking place over the summer equinox, the event promises thought-provoking discussions that foster collective innovation.

Aimed at enhancing every aspect of sleep quality, attendees will be sent a sleep kit prior to arrival. During the symposium you can enjoy IV drips and CBD massages at the spa, and sound-art experiences designed to down regulate the central nervous system, alongside breathwork and yoga sessions on the hotel’s terrace. A Sleep Well Menu features drinks such as charcoal lattes packed with natural melatonin boosters to aid deep and restorative sleep. Bespoke sleep coaching sessions are also on offer during the event, which will feature talks from sleep scientists, functional medicine experts and longevity physicians.

4. Nancy Holt: Circles Of Light

Nancy Holt: Circles Of Light, Berlin, Germany

Open now until 21 July 2024
Location: Berlin, Germany
Experience Sector: Immersive Art

Berlin exhibition space Gropius Bau is shining a light on American artist Nancy Holt, who was known for her public sculptures, installation art and land art. Over the course of five decades, Holt explored how we perceive our environment and how we attempt to understand our place on the surface of this planet. Circles of Light, Holt’s most comprehensive exhibition in Germany to date, includes film, photography, sound works, concrete poetry, sculptures and expansive installations by the artist alongside drawings she did over a 25-year period.

During her career, Holt reimagined site-specific installations and ways of working with natural and artificial light. She incorporated the earth’s rotation, astronomy, time and space into her sculptures, challenging us to look beyond what we think we know. Holt recalibrated the limits of art and expanded the places where art could be found, asking questions about how we might understand our place in the world. Her working process has a tangible presence at the exhibition through texts and recordings by the artist.

3. White Night Ballarat

White Night Ballarat, Australia

Opens: 1 June 2024
Location: Ballarat, Australia
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

While we’re gearing up for summer in the Northern Hemisphere, jumpers are being dug out and fires lit in the South. Marking the arrival of winter is White Night Ballarat, an evening of illuminations, projections, music and interactive artworks taking place for one night only on 1 June when the city of gold will light up for six hours from 6pm until midnight. On arrival you’ll be greeted by 40 projections, over 100 local artists and performers, and non-stop entertainment. 

The event includes performances from eight-piece powerhouse Jazz Party, the disco-inspired Tek Tek Ensemble and rockabilly band The Rechords, alongside sets from local DJs. Look out for a series of joyful projections by Deborah Klein, a Melbourne-based creative whose works have an ethereal quality. For those interested in video art, Lisa Walker’s Slow Curtain projection is a must. If you’re hungry after consuming all of that art, head to the White Night Bites food spot.

2. Birds: Brilliant & Bizarre

Birds: Brilliant & Bizarre, London, UK

Opens now until 5 January 2025
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive Learning

While bugs are being given the royal treatment in New York, it’s birds that are being put on a pedestal in London this month with the arrival of a flamboyant new show at the Natural History Museum celebrating all things feathered. Birds: Brilliant & Bizarre focuses on the weird and wonderful within the feathered spectrum, from odd-looking birds that actually exist to exploring the unlikely links between a pigeon and a T-Rex, via sniffing a stinky seabird egg. Expect a few hours of interactive, cutting-edge avian entertainment.

The show gives you a bird’s eye view into their private worlds, letting you feel their heartbeats and see through their eyes. During the show you can swirl around with a murmuration of starlings, chirp along with the dawn chorus and discover how T-Rex’s managed to survive the mass extinction that wiped out all other dinosaurs. Be sure to look out for the oldest modern bird in the world – the so-called ‘wonder chicken’, while learning about quirky bird survival techniques, from sucking blood to bathing in acid.

1. World Experience Summit 2024

Opens: 12-14 June 2024
Location: New York, US
Experience Sector: Immersive Learning

Hot on the heels of a successful inaugural event in London last year, the WXO’s World Experience Summit heading to the Big Apple for round two. Bringing together the great and good of the experience community at the House of Yes in Brooklyn, during the event you’ll have the chance to connect with, and learn from, the experience designers, producers, professors, operators and investors who are defining the future of experiences. Aiming to help you create more memorable experiences, the summit will explore best practice and cutting-edge approaches in experience design from all sectors.

During the three-day event you can get stuck into experience workshops where you’ll learn how to design, make, operate, pitch and promote successful experiences. The Unconference, meanwhile, will invite people to share their experience case studies, failures and opinions. There will also be short talks on the art, science, business, tech and impact of experiences and after hours socials where you can drink and dance. You’ll also have the chance to visit some of the most interesting immersive experiences taking place in New York now.

Among the stellar line-up of speakers at this year’s event are: Heather Gallagher, former head of tech at Burning Man, who will share the paths of transformation experienced by Burners; Experience Economy godfather Joe Pine, who will lead an interactive workshop to develop transformation toolkits; Leigh Sachwitz, founder of flora&faunavisions, who will shed light on the technical aspects of creating immersive digital experiences; and Katherine Templar-Lewis, director of Kinda Studios, who will host a workshop on how to apply the latest learnings from neuroscience into experience design. We look forward to seeing you there!