Throwback 23 - Corporate event highlights of 2023

Incomprehensibly amazing corporate event highlights from the last year include mind-blowing visual art in Bordeaux, a trio of Italian tenors flash-mobbing a villa in Como and the best winter start for many years in the Alps. Our world in 2023 had many low-points and it is so easy to forget the richness of European cultures. Those moments of discovery in foreign lands, the brief but lasting encounters we get when we come together in a new, enchanting location.

Bassins des Lumières – beauty that is enough to make you cry

This is possibly the hardest of all 2023 highlights to do justice in an online article. From the outside the venue is Base Sous-Marine an indescribably massive WW2 submarine hanger on the waters of Bacalan, Bordeaux. It is eye catching for its scale and brutalist architecture. To put it in context, the roof is 9m thick concrete, to spare the U-boats from allied aerial gifts. It is truly vast.

Head inside and it is eery, vast and at first perplexing – you enter through a bright foyer into a vast dark space, with the original submarine pens traversed by walkways. And projected onto the huge walls and doors is visual art that leaves visitors standing, staring in awe. Pre-covid, I got to see Teamlabs visual art display in Tokyo first hand. Before seeing Bassins des Lumières, I was convinced that I would never see anything to match the visual brilliance of the Teamlabs experience. You live and learn.

Nothing prepares you for the scale, the acoustics, the serene water, the stunning digital artwork. Corporate events are all about taking teams to new experiences and nothing comes close to the uniqueness of time spent in Bassins des Lumières. It is a truly extraordinary event space, with few equals anywhere on earth - expect to get emotional.

3 tenors flash onto a Como Villa stage

It is impossible not to get caught up in the style and swagger of Italian life. This is a nation that walks with its chest puffed-out, where crumbling buildings are pure eye-candy, where waterfront drinking & dining just feels & tastes different and where there are lakes, mountains, ocean, and cities of indescribable allure.

Enjoying all the trappings of a private party in a historic villa on Lake Como, out of the blue, the violinists stopped and were replaced by a flash trio of tenors. We get to see a lot of entertainment in our industry, but this was on another level altogether. Beneath the frescoes and with the waters of Como lapping the terrace, this was a stupendous show, pure Italian theatre.

Sometimes an entertainment act must battle for audience attention - conversations, dining and huddles can all continue uninterrupted. This was different – every one of the 300 in attendance were utterly transfixed as the trio threw out their chests are raised the roof. To witness a performance like this, in such an iconic location was a moment the audience won't forget – you could see it in the reaction & body language of those present. It was truly special and pure Italy.

Winter 2023 opens with a bang

September normally sees the start of the ski season in the glacier skiing resorts of Austria and Switzerland. The season opening this year was delayed by several weeks as the skies remained cloudless. Then boom, the beginning of November brought a significant snow system – late opening in some glacier skiing resorts was followed by early opening in others.

A site inspection to Courmayeur for the opening weekend of the season was magical, as was knee deep powder in the Arlberg, ditto Innsbruck. Trees bending under the weight of a huge snowpack, and blue, frigid skies were reminders of the beauty of nature – where a weather system transforms the world into a winter wonderland.

View over the water of a Bordeaux visual arts exhibition
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