I. Love. Friends.
I’ve watched every episode hundreds of times, laughed at all the jokes before they were said, and probably know the six characters better than some of my actual pals. And despite ending over a decade ago, Friends still remains as one of my favourite TV shows of all time.
To celebrate what is arguably the best TV sitcom ever, Comedy Central teamed up with the Luna Cinema to bring us FriendsFest, a sellout event that toured the UK for six weeks.
When FriendsFest was first launched in London last year, tickets sold out in just 13 minutes. Prices have jumped up since the original £5 event though, and I forked out £24 to live out my dream as the seventh member of the gang. Or as close as I’d ever get the chance to, anyway.
Set in the beautiful grounds of Blenheim Palace, FriendsFest offered fans a range of replica sets, props and references – some of which were better than others…
The iconic coffee shop and favourite hangout spot for the Friends gang was our first stop. Complete with an orange sofa and window decal, there were two entertainers inside behind the mics, but no renditions of ‘Smelly Cat’ or ‘Sticky Shoes’ could be heard.
The guys’ apartment
Next was Joey and Chandler’s apartment, which featured a replica of Joey’s beloved entertainment unit. The attention to detail here was mixed: the Barca loungers didn’t recline, and the retro-themed decorations didn’t relate to the show. But the door to Chandler’s room was sawn in half, the posters were recognisable, and I enjoyed the hockey stick barricading the cabinet.
It was also fun having a game of foosball nearby, although ‘fireball’ would have been much more exciting to play.
Outside in the main field was Phoebe’s grandmother’s cab, which she lends to Joey to drive to Vegas, and also uses to race Ross to the airport in the final episode. Again, it’s not an exact replica, but I blended in quite nicely with it anyway.
The Vegas wedding chapel
On the other side of the court was the Vegas chapel where Ross and Rachel got married. By draping a wedding dress on top of your clothes, you too could have that dream Vegas wedding. Permanent face drawings were not included.
The highlight of the event was, of course, Monica’s apartment. It looked pretty much like the real thing, except there was no space for the balcony or bedrooms, and ‘don’t even get me started on the refrigerator magnets’.
Overall, I really enjoyed FriendsFest and the smaller references they made to the show. There was a traditional English trifle in Monica’s fridge, for example, but a few of the elements did also feel a bit wedged in; there was a ‘Moondance Diner’ and ‘Mockolate’ stand, which, while nicely named, were nothing more than overpriced food vans.
Would I recommend a visit if it returns next year? Yes. If you’re a Friends fan like me, you’ll have a good time. It’s the closest you’ll come to being at the real thing, but just don’t expect it to be…
Need to know
- FriendsFest 2016 is now over
- You can sign up for future events and announcements on the website