Unconventional Event Venues Create Hair-Raising Experiences in Madrid

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Madrid Rio Park; photo credit: Madrid Convention Bureau

Events in unsuspected places is trending in Madrid, and the city’s underground network of abandoned tunnels and bunkers are prime real estate for organizing dark and mysterious attendee experiences.

Activic Events can help you make use of old trains, military bunkers and the city’s own history for tours that quickly turn the underground into one giant escape room for groups of 20 to 300, full of strange and mysterious occurrences. The abandoned early 20th-century Chamberie Station (known locally as the ghost station) is now a museum with a screening room for 60 that can be booked for events. The station’s original platform ads have been re-constructed with the same boldly colored tiles as in its heyday. In the past, attendees have boarded a 1960s-style carriage here—complete with themed ticket inspectors and company imagery—for an underground tour and cocktail reception. The tracks of Chamberie have also been transformed into a mini, high-speed racetrack for corporate events.

Elsewhere in Madrid, Exploramas is offering iPad filmmaking team building in some of the area’s most hair-crawling convents, while Madrid Snowzone offers goosebumps-inducing experiences of another kind via igloo building, icy fashion shows and cocktail receptions in an ice cabin. Groups can also learn to give chills during an “Expert Criminal” workshop that teaches skeleton key making, sabotage, jewelry heisting, forging works of art and escape and concealment techniques—while “disguised” in red- and white-striped robbers jerseys, naturally. Connect with Extravaganza to make this one happen.

“Hospitality and a genuine desire to help guests not only visit but live the city—and a desire to truly celebrate life—are all built into Madrid’s DNA. The people of Madrid will make [attendees] feel right at home.”

Madrid’s MICE allure—rated No. 1 in Spain and No. 7 by the International Congress and Convention Association’s 2016 worldwide city rankings—is often attributed to its cultural attributes, accessibility and readiness for large scale conventions. To this point, there are three UNESCO World Heritage sites within the Madrid region, more than 70 museums, miles and miles of explorable green spaces and a plethora of dining options, including 14 Michelin-starred restaurants, molecular gastronomy and the oldest restaurant in the world (according to the “Guinness Book of World Records”), Botin.

Groups can ride Segways and electric bicycles through the Madrid Rio green space, a renovated part of the city on the banks of the Manzanares River, or become beekeepers for a day at the Sierra de Hoyo Beekeeping Centre.

David Noack Perez, director of the Madrid Convention Bureau, adds a missing ingredient to the city’s cultural attributes.

“Hospitality and a genuine desire to help guests not only visit but live the city—and a desire to truly celebrate life—are all built into Madrid’s DNA. The people of Madrid will make [attendees] feel right at home.”

Perez recommends the Madrid Art Walk, which links three of the city’s top museums—the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia—in a half-mile walk as a hyperlocal experience for visiting groups. “A visit to a tablao (a place for flamenco dancing), and, if possible, a flamenco class” is another to-do.

Where to Hang Your Hat

There are currently around 206 hotels in Madrid with four- and five-star rating, and big name hotel chains will soon bring another 4,413 hotel rooms to the region over the next couple of years. The action kicks-off with a new 159-room Hyatt Centric, scheduled to open in a 1920s landmark building on the Gran Via by the end of the year. Following suit in 2019 is the Four Seasons’ 200-room hotel and 22 residences, which is taking shape in Canalejas Square, the focus of a major urban revitalization in central Madrid. Also in 2019, Marriott will add close to 300 rooms to the city with the opening of the W Madrid and an Aloft hotel, while the Edificio Espana, one of the city’s most iconic buildings, is set to become a 650-room RIU with a rooftop pool and panoramic views from a nearly 10,000-sf event space on the top floor of the hotel.

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