With Downton Abbey now being screened on Sunday evenings, the popularity of Downton Themed entertainment and events is increasing again. Whether you are arranging a dinner: dining with Lord and Lady Grantham or attending a Jazz Club with naughty Lady Rose, there are plenty of options to whet your appetite and excite your guests.
Recently we were involved in a Downton Ball; and guests dressed in vintage clothing, or hired costumes to add to the atmosphere. For pre-dinner drinks, a singer and pianist performed songs from the era. The music was still influenced by the First World War and was quite formal by contemporary styles. Classically trained singers would perform songs from the First World War – including the iconic “Keep the Home Fires Burning”. This music really adds atmosphere to a pre-dinner drinks event.
The guests were then formally invited to dine in the dining room “To dine with Lord and Lady Grantham”. Of course by contemporary standards, we don’t have as many courses, and our tastes in food have changed. But the venue made a huge effort to have fully trained waiters – who were wearing appropriate clothing, providing a ‘silver service’.
After dinner, Lady Grantham led the ladies for coffee, while the men were served port. Then Lady Rose encouraged guests to attend a Jazz club, where dancers taught the guests the Charleston accompanied by a live jazz band. Carriages (well taxis) were booked to collect guests at 12 o’clock.
We were really surprised to discover that guests of all ages wished to experience “Downton”. And the variety of moods, from the drinks reception with sublime music; the more formal style of dining through to the Charleston tuition, dancing and Jazz Band.
Clients often ask if you have to have a specific venue for such an event. Of course, if you have an historic venue it is easier for guests to image they’re being transported back to the 1920s. However, there are ways you can ‘dress’ a more modern venue to create a great atmosphere. The lighting levels are crucial; trying to dim the lights makes a big difference. Taking care with the dressing of the dining tables: with white linen table cloths, napkins, formal cutlery and china. Ensuring the sound levels are correct: remember, sound levels were lower and much more was acoustic. The background music and also the band would have played acoustically rather than being mic-ed up.
But finally, taking care with what the waiting staff and entertainers wear is also crucial. Our events have actors playing key roles, in costume, so it adds to the atmosphere. The waiting staff were trained to serve in a more formal way, which was fitting for the era.
If you are looking for a Downton Themed entertainment package, which includes guidelines on how to create your own Downton event, do give us a call, or contact us. We’d love to have a chat!