We recently spoke to Debbie Dudley, Senior Account Manager at Alexandra Palace for an interesting insight into this iconic venue’s past, present and future.
Tell us a little bit about your venue
Opening in 1873 as an entertainments venue for Victorian London, Alexandra Palace has been at the centre of London venues for extraordinary events for over 140 years. We host an eclectic mix of live music, sport, cultural and leisure events and welcome more than 3 million people every year to enjoy over 250 live events.
What is the ideal-sized event for you to host?
Capacity across the site ranges from 10-10,000 people so there is no ideal event!
The style and design is certainly amazing! Who designed it and what was the inspiration behind it?
The first Palace, which opened in 1873 but burnt down shortly after, had been designed by architects Alfred Meeson and John Johnson. The new, larger Alexandra Palace was designed by Johnson alone. Its purpose was to serve as a public centre of recreation, education and entertainment for the people of North London, it was designed as a “People’s Palace”. It contained a concert hall, art galleries, a museum, lecture hall and theatre.
What do you love most about being a part of the Alexandra Palace team?
On a site this big, every event and day is completely different. The sheer variety of events means we get to work with incredible people across sport, entertainment and the corporate sector.
What element of the venue do you consider to be the wow factor?
The view is unbeatable with panoramic views across the city. Whenever people come up to the venue they always need some time to take it all in!
We completely agree, that view is incredible! When it comes to selecting an event venue do you have any top tips for our readers?
Start looking as soon as possible. With major events we’re contracted up to three years in advance. It’s also important to take into account a venue’s location and how much parking is on offer – especially for London venues. Due to the venue’s size, we’re fortunate enough to be able to provide ample parking for cars and coaches.
What sets you apart from other London venues?
With over seven acres of building and 196 acres of parkland, few venues can compete with the size and scope of Alexandra Palace. We’ve also been delivering world-class events since 1875 so we’re pretty experienced!
What kind of catering is available for corporate events?
We take great pride in ensuring all food and drink served at our events is of the highest standard. We have a team of highly experienced chefs who can create the perfect menu to compliment any event. From 3 course banquets to bowl foods and BBQs, we’re able to cater for every taste.
Do you have any exciting developments on the horizon that we can share with our readers?
In December we will reopen the Alexandra Palace Theatre. It’s been closed to the public for 80 years and it’s a really magical space. Once reopened it will host public performances as well as private hires and corporate functions.
Wow, we can’t wait to see the brand new Theatre! Tell us about one of the most creative events that’s been held at Alexandra Palace to date?
We recently worked with ASOS on a company away day for 2000. They transformed all areas of the Palace, creating seminar rooms, catwalks as well as areas for demonstrations. It was huge in scale but ran like clockwork. Red Bull take over the park and palace on a bi-annual basis – 20,000 spectators watch 200 soapboxes race down our hill with the London skyline as the backdrop.
What would you say are the key elements required to deliver a successful event?
A clear brief and excellent communication between client and venue is always important. We always go above and beyond to turn client’s dreams into reality.
What would be the perfect event for the Alexandra Palace setting?
This summer we’re really excited about Kaleidoscope Festival, it’s the first event of its scale to be taking over the Park and hidden areas of the Palace – utilising all of the amazing spaces we have on offer. From music, comedy and theatre to food and drink, it will be a real showcase of everything we do here at Ally Pally so it’s the perfect event!
If Alexandra Palace were a person, past or present, who would they be?
The Edwardian daredevil Dolly Shepherd. She started as a waitress at Ally Pally before going on to become a parachutist and balloonist – jumping from a hot-air balloon thousands of feet in the air. She was bold and always doing the unexpected, like Ally Pally.
That’s brilliant, Dolly sounds like she would have fit in here at event-venues.com too! Finally, what is the Alexandra Palace mantra/philosophy you live by, or quote that sums you up best?
Alexandra Palace has always been the People’s Palace. Everything we do goes back to supporting the charity and helping us maintain and restoring this iconic building and park so that generations of Londoners can continue to enjoy it. Ally Pally gets under your skin – I have worked here for 11 years and love the magic the palace creates.