London is full of fantastical, immersive activities. Lose yourself down one of these rabbit holes and you could end up on a pirate ship, at a Venetian carnival or in a zombie-infested air-raid shelter. Eddy Frankel and Jonny Ensall bunny hop between the best of them.
Take a trip to Wonderland
A daydreaming girl disappears down a hole, gets harassed by a bunch of talking animals and narrowly escapes decapitation. Trippy enough for you? It certainly is for event organiser HotHot Magazine, which has drawn inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s twisted literary world to create its Alice in Wonderland pop-up restaurant. The evening includes a sumptuous four-course meal accompanied by theatre, music and games. And yes, there will be croquet. Enjoy it, but don’t lose your head.
When Friday May 2 and Saturday May 3. Tickets £50. Where The Arches, 63 How’s St, E2 8EE. Wear Your maddest hat.
Survive the Blitz
It’s September 1940, the Luftwaffe is ravaging the city of London, and you’re hunkering down for shelter in the tunnels below Waterloo station. But it gets worse. How much worse? Zombie worse. The organisers of Zombie Blitz have created a theatrical game set amid a perilous bombing raid in WWII, with the undead thrown in for good measure. You’ll spend an hour dodging mortar fire and zombie attacks, ultimately saving Britain from the Nazi zombie apocalypse. Your country needs you!
When Sunday May 4, June 14 and July 26. Tickets £65 (20 percent off bookings in April). Where The Vaults, Launcelot St, SE1 7AD. Wear Vintage ’40s dress or wartime khakis and a stiff upper lip.
Unleash your inner imp
We enjoy a masked ball as much as the next rake. But sometimes we just want something a bit different. A bit more ‘Holy shit, what the hell are you dressed as?’ Such entertainment awaits at The Goblin King’s Annual Masquerade Ball where you will be plunged into a world of faeries, sprites, nymphs and all manner of monsters fit for a George RR Martin cheese dream. Its organisers are converting a huge south London bunker into a fairytale world of freaks and trolls filled with live music and interactive art. Long live the goblin king! Update
Friday May 2. Tickets £25. Update: This event has now been postponed until the autumn! Where Bunker 51, 3 Herringham Rd, SE7 8NJ. Wear Formal attire. Or the most grotesque costume you can come up with – your call.
Clean up with comedy
What happens when the last desk jockeys have gone home and the office closes its door? The Caretakers take over, that’s what. Top comedy production company The Invisible Dot Ltd invites you to its own offices after hours, where you can chat with a variety of funny people pretending to be maintenance staff. With great comedians including Mike Wozniak, Cariad Lloyd and Sara Pascoe, you’ll be swept off your feet.
Dice with death in Venice-on-Thames
As the real Venice sinks into its lagoon, The Spectators’ Guild theatre company have created a mini version of the beautiful Italian city in Greenwich. ‘Venice Preserv’d’ – their staging of Thomas Otway’s Restoration play – invites you to meander through seventeenth century Venezia, sampling tasty Italian morsels (think classy Peperami) and getting caught up in a masked carnevale. Taking place in listed buildings at Paynes & Borthwick Wharf, the whole thing is fit for a doge. That’s a chief-of-state, of course, not a meme about a dog.
When Until June 8. Tickets £10-£45. Where Meet at 6.30pm by the Cutty Sark, King William Walk, SE10 9HT. Wear A modern update on carnival attire. That onesie you wore to Notting Hill last year should be fine. www.venicepreservd.co.uk
Sip a latte in a pirate galleon
You wouldn’t be able to get a decent espresso on most pirate ships, but then, we are talking about east London here. Part of the Hackney Pirates charity, Compass Coffee is done out like below-decks on a Spanish galleon, with enough rigging to hang any mutineers from the mainsail. Finally, you get to have all the fun of being a pirate without the seasickness and the scurvy. Aaaarrr! When Tuesday-Friday 11am-7pm, Saturday 10am-6pm.
Where 138 Kingsland High St, E8 2NS. Wear Go casual… or full-on pirate.
Have dinner on the East India Trading Company
Imagine for a moment that you aren’t a PR intern from Leyton but are in fact a wealthy nineteenth-century commodities magnate. This is the role the Art of Dining crew invite you to step into for East to Osterley– their five-course meal at the National Trust’s Osterley House. Dine as if you were back in the days of Empire, amid tales of adventure and treasures from the Orient. Then head back to Leyton.
Track down a detective’s drinking hole
Worried your wife may be having an affair? Got a nemesis you need spying on? Lost your pooch? Yes, as with Ace Ventura, no case is too fluffy for Evans & Peel Detective Agency. The secretary at this secret bar in Earl’s Court requires your case history before revealing the atmospherically dim boozing parlour hidden behind a bookcase. Sliders are served till late and the cocktails are stiff – what else would youexpect from a couple of private dicks?
Join the mile-high manicure club
Not all immersive experiences are fancy nights out. You can get lost doing everyday things too. So adopt the brace position for a trip to MWnails, an airline-themed talon salon in Old Spitalfields Market. You aren’t a client here, you’re a passenger; and that’s not a nail technician, no, that’s a flight attendant. It’s all the glamour and excitement of a trip abroad, just without the holiday bit. Men are catered for with three different mani-pedi options. Buckle your seat belt and you’ll soon be looking pretty fly.
When Daily from 10am. Where Old Spitalfields Market, 111b Commercial St, E1 6BG. Wear Whatever you’d wear for a flight. So, tracky bottoms and an inflatable pillow. www.mwnails.com
Party in ’60s Hollywood
Eminent theatre company Punchdrunk are the dons of the immersive experience. Since 2000 they’ve been letting audiences loose in their jaw-dropping performance spaces and blurring the boundary between actor and spectator. Their current show, ‘The Drowned Man’, is a vast recreation of LA in the 1960s, set across four floors and 100 rooms. On May 10 they’re throwing a party on set, with live music and DJs. Experience the show beforehand then chat up its cast of movie stars and failed starlets, you cad.
For even more immersive experiences check out our full list at timeout.com/immersive.