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What Exactly is an Immersive Event?

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Today let’s talk about what an immersive event IS, and why it’s more FUN than a normal event.

When you read a book, or watch a movie, or even hear a story, the very best part of that whole experience is the moment that your consciousness of the real world turns off, and you feel as though you’re existing INSIDE the world of that story. You’ve left reality, and your mind is completely focused on the events happening in that fictional world. This feeling is why many of us read or consume stories -- it’s fun to mentally escape to a completely different place. When you’re reading Harry Potter, you’re not analyzing his motives or calculating the cost of magical banquets … you’re imagining what it would be like if YOU were a student at Hogwarts, and how fun it would be if YOU could do magic. Leaving the real world for a while is exciting and relaxing and inspirational all at the same time.

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So, an immersive event is the physical manifestation of that feeling of escape! Whether it’s a “Night at Hogwarts” costume ball, or an Alice in Wonderland tea party, or a Great Gatsby Jazz soiree -- any event that allows fans of a particular fictional realm to actually live in that world for a short time … or in other words, immerse themselves in a fictional atmosphere ... that’s an immersive event. Simple!

The key elements of a really successful immersive event are the setting, the activities, the costumes and the food. You can SAY you’re holding a Last Night on the Titanic dinner party, but if there’s nothing remotely nautical about the setting, and the menu is modern, and nothing happens but normal party small talk, your event does not qualify as immersive. You have to really SELL the illusion that you’ve traveled through a magical portal to visit another time and place. Build that world that you love with iconic items from the story amongst your decor, authentic food and drink that the protagonists of your story would have consumed, story-themed outfits and costumes, and most importantly, planned activities that mimic parts of your fictional world.

For example, you can make potions at a Harry Potter event, or learn swing dancing at a Great Gatsby event, or decorate hats with flowers at an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter tea party … there are so many options, and it’s the things that you do that get people out of their seats and into the fictional world that really completes the fantasy, and make your event unforgettable.

Now, creating and hosting immersive events is fun, but it takes imagination and some practical tricks to build fictional worlds inside real world spaces on a budget. Not all of us are Walt Disney!

And that’s what this website is all about. In these posts I share all the secrets I’ve learned from my years of building immersive events based on my favorite books and stories, so you can too.

Let me know which of your favorite worlds you’d like to see posts & videos about!

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I just found you blog and as the manager of an indie book store I totally agree. Our biggest events and most successful events were immersive. They are a lot of work, but they are very rewarding and fun. The past few months we celebrated 25 years of Harry Potter Magic: and our first ever Romance Fiction Literary Salon to celebrate Book Store Romance Day: Next weekend we are holding a Spooky Stories Night. #ReadingIsFun

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