For the fourth year running, we’re back at Manchester Central Convention Complex to manage the spectacular Christmas Party by VIVID Experience. This year’s festive celebration brings you the exotic Zulu Sundance theme. For 3 weeks, the venue is completely transformed in to African tribal lands, each corner of the grand hall filled with full size fairground rides and world class aerial dancers gliding through the heights of the room.

The Giraffe team are thrilled to be part of this event once again, this year with more presence than ever before. Kat, our Head of Events, takes the role as Event Manager and ensures the whole evening runs smoothly. Careful planning, organisation during the event and consistent briefs assures a smooth ride over the busy party period.

This Christmas, we’ve brought several team members to the table covering all aspects of the service. Assisting Kat every night is our MD Andrew, supervising guests, leading the daily team briefs and always being on hand to respond to any queries. The main bars, cocktail bar and gin bar are all lead with experienced team supervisors who ensure the staff are happy and confident, and everything is well prepared and ready for the busy service. Giraffe recruited the cocktail team, bartenders and bar-backs for the event!

Before the doors open, it’s time to run through the final checks. Table plan? Tick. Catering team briefed? Tick. Tables checked? Tick. DJ and lighting operator ready? Everyone in position? Check check check. The doors open and the guests flood in to their Christmas party.

Once the drinks reception is well underway, we head to the wine cellar to check on the team there. The wine management team are whizzes at keeping an eye on the incoming drinks package orders, and with the help of the wine waiters, they ensure all tables have the right wines, champagnes and beers. A full house night consists of 220 tables, so it’s all in the planning to make sure every order is correct.

At 8pm, the first call for dinner is announced and Kat and the floor managers open the gates to the welcoming music as the theatre lighting reveals the impressive room set up. Guests find their tables and take a seat. Once the manager’s give the green light, it’s time to begin the first of the three entertainment shows of the evening.

After show one comes to an end, the catering team are given the go ahead to deliver the starters, followed by mains, to all the tables. This year guests are indulged with Ham Hock Terrine or Soup, with a yummy chicken dinner to follow. Kat always briefs the chefs prior to service on any reported allergies for the evening so that alternatives can be arranged.

When main course service concludes, show two of the evening begins, featuring more acrobatic performers. A divine dessert of chocolate is promptly served after this show finishes. Once dessert plates are cleared, show three begins. This one features lots of colour, butterfly wings and more aerial performers.

After the cast of Zulu Sundance take a bow, it’s “event-manager to DJ” to call for the fairground announcement. The lights come on and all fairground rides open. Thrill seekers run to their favourites and enjoy a good spin on the Waltzers and a few bumps on the Dodgems!

Midnight bacon butties are served for guests to tuck in to. Shortly after at 12:45am, the bars close and the night comes to an end at 1am. The teams jump straight on to the clear down and get stocked up for the following evening. Kat and the managers de-brief to all the relevant venue teams and once the doors are locked, it’s time for (just a little bit of) sleep before we can do it all again the following day.

And in a nutshell, that’s a sneak peak of how event management works at Manchester Christmas Party World!