Strange Encounters: Enjoy These Immersive Experiences in London

Dress up as spies, medieval warriors or detectives as you escape to different world inspired by popular novels, films and TV shows.

For Those Who Love a Whodunnit

Hop aboard the Murder Express at Pedley Street Station, under railway arches near Brick Lane (to 31 Aug) for an experience set in 1937 during the Great Depression. The Von Valentine family’s Jewel of the Empire, the world’s largest cut diamond, is on display aboard The Murder Express as it travels from London to the family estate in the southern French town of Murdér. On board, you’ll dine on a new menu as you’re whisked to France—that’s assuming all goes well, of course… 

For Sci-fi Fans

War of the Worlds, London, UK

Travel back in time to Victorian England at a new experience set in at The Old London Metal Exchange (to 31 Aug). Experience the Martian invasion from HG Wells’ 1898 science fiction novel "War of the Worlds," which was reinvented as a musical by Jeff Wayne. In groups of 12, you’re guided by live and virtual actors as you walk, crawl and slide through scenes of Victorian life, while a Martian Fighting Machine rises above. Thanks to virtual reality headsets and augmented reality holograms, the experience feels scarily real. 

For Adventurous Types

Crystal Maze, London, UK

A British TV game show that was a hit in the ’90s has been transformed into The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience. Like the series, the experience has Medieval, Aztec, Industrial and Futuristic zones. Even if you’ve never seen the show, enjoy the maze masters guiding you around the venue, as did the show’s eccentric presenter, Richard O’Brien. Teams of eight don retro satin bomber jackets to enter the maze to play 32 physical and mental challenges against the clock, such as cracking a safe using 'A' Level maths, completing a double-sided crossword and getting cannon balls across a medieval castle. Work quickly, or risk getting locked in.

For James Bond Junkies

Secret Cinema—known for hosting elaborate productions in unusual locations—turns its attention to the 2006 James Bond film "Casino Royale," starring Daniel Craig. Its latest project is based on the film and set in a secret London location (to 22 Sep). Brush up on your poker skills and prepare for your mission briefing, as you’ll be recruited into Q or M as part of Operation Wild Card and receive an alias, training suggestions and dress code from MI6—which means cocktail dresses and tuxedos with an undone bowtie, obviously.

For Literature Lovers

The Grand Expedition, London, UK

The theatrical supper club Gingerline hosts "experiments" in secret locations (to 4 Jul). Previous productions have been set in spacecraft and submarines with trapeze artists, accordion players, shadow puppets and projections creating a 360-degree experience. Its latest adventure, The Grand Expedition, is held in a secret location on the Victoria line, near Euston. You’ll dine on a five-course menu while sitting in a hot air balloon basket, as storytellers and dancers dressed as aeronauts and pilots perform around you. 

For Beloved British Culture

Faulty Towers the Dining Experience, London, UK

Whether you’re a Brit who likes to reminisce or a visitor keen to experience British culture, you can take part in two interactive dining experiences based on popular British TV shows. Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience is inspired by the ‘70s BBC farce “Fawlty Towers. Set in a fictional hotel on the south coast of Britain, you’ll mingle with the hotel’s rude owner, hapless Spanish waiter and other bewildered guests over a three-course dinner at this mostly improvised show. The same team are behind the new Only Fools – The Cushty VIP Package, at the same venue (to Sep), which is based on the ‘80s BBC comedy “Only Fools and Horses,” set in a fictional pub in Peckham, South London. Enjoy a three-course meal while meeting the Trotters—a loveable family of wheeler dealers always looking to make a quick buck.

For Detective Buffs

The Game is Now, London, UK

The game is on—and it’s on now. The fictional detective Sherlock Holmes from Sir Arthur Doyle’s 1880s novels has inspired a museum, films and TV series, and now an escape room. The Game is Now Live Experience in West12 Shopping Centre, opposite Westfield London, is a new escape room by Time Run and the BBC series producers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. The 100-minute game begins with actors recruiting a team of Sherlock operatives. Work together to solve puzzles in three rooms, including one with a dead body with an anchor tattoo. With the help of video and audio clues, unlock a cage and find hidden keys and codes in UV light. Compare your experiences in The Mind Palace, a bar inspired by Doyle.

Sarah Riches
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