Destination - We're all off to ... North London

History, green spaces, sporting venues ... look north for eventspiration, says Event's reporter, Katie Deighton.

Camden provides a creative background for many events
Camden provides a creative background for many events

What's it known for?

As Shoreditch et al continue to lead the immersive pop-up market to the east, and Westfield in White City pulls more traditional shopper activity to the west, north London has remained a solid, dependable place for brands to activate in. An ambiguous land mass (that, after much deliberation, Event chose to define as anything from Regent's Park and up), possibly nowhere else in the country contains such a large and diverse number of venues.

It also includes a precious Londonite commodity - open space - which, thanks to great transport links, means brands can host events amid green scenery, without having to drag their urban guests too far from their comfort zones.

Muswell Hill and Highgate continue to provide enough quinoa salad bars and coffee shops to keep their affluent residents happy, while the constantly 'up and coming' Stoke Newington offers solace to wannabe hippy types. Camden's edge may have been blunted somewhat by gaggles of tourists looking for Pete Doherty, yet it still provides a creative backdrop for many an event.

And Finsbury Park - the once infamously 'stabby' district - has also begun to surrender itself to gentrification.

Famous sights

Much of London's history can be found in the north. Highgate Cemetery, which was revived in the 1970s as part of a charity project, houses a number of famous names, including Karl Marx and authors Douglas Adams and George Eliot. Not just for the morbid or communist, the space also features impressive monuments and floral displays.

Hampstead Heath sweeps the space above Haverstock Hill, and houses Kenwood House, three lidos and Golders Hill Park. Parliament Hill to the south of the heath offers picture-postcard views of the city, as does Primrose Hill to the north of Regent's Park. The park itself houses a rose garden, an open-air theatre and ZSL London Zoo, while Lord's - 'The home of cricket' - sits west of it.

Up the road from the sports ground is the unassuming yet wildly famous Abbey Road Studios. Although the building itself is not open to the general public, the iconic zebra crossing outside certainly is. A Regent's Canal narrow boat tour provides a unique way to see Camden Lock Market and Little Venice. The latter offers a variety of cafes, pubs and restaurants on the waterside.

A hotspot for brands

One of the largest brand experiences to take place in north London this year was Shortlist Media's Stylist Live, which invited fans of 'cocktails, culture, catwalks and conversation' to the Business Design Centre for four days of talks and experiential activity. Carte Noire also selected Islington for the first of its Film Collection events in May. The coffee brand partnered with picture house Screen on the Green to host a series of film screenings accompanied by French music, canapes and cocktails.

One of the most-talked about brand events of the year was Lipton Ice Tea's giant slip and slide, which formed part of its Daybreaker series of morning events. The brand selected the newly developed area of King's Cross to erect a bright yellow, 100-metre inflatable slide. King's Cross Station itself is also a prime activation location for companies looking to target both tourists and Londoners. It has hosted NBC Universal, Coca-Cola and Yorkshire Tea, among others.


King's Cross proved to be such an attractive location for Timebased that the agency based its HQ there. Owner and creative director Richard Dodgson cites the area's proximity to the West End as a key reason for setting up shop there: staff can easily meet with clients and head to events in the buzzing district of Soho.

"We needed off-street parking for our vehicles, and the closer you get to central London the less available this is," he explains. "We always wanted to ensure there were plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby - partly for client meetings, but mainly for staff welfare and keeping our team happy by giving them easy access to everything London has to offer."

Production and prop hire studio Theme Traders has its warehouse and offices near Willesden Green. Becky Handley, its director, says: "We settled here more than 20 years ago and have witnessed many changes, including our own. The area enables us to have a huge amount of storage and workshop space, while still being in Zone 3 and accessible for clients to visit us.

"Our project managers have daily meetings all over London, but great transport links make this easy. We are also perfectly situated near the bottom of the M1, which makes it logistically much easier for working across the UK and further afield."

Other agencies based in north London include Banks Sadler (Kentish Town Road), Innovision (Regent's Park), TBA (near Euston Square) and Projection Artworks (Clerkenwell).

Where to host an event

Once a railway replacement shed, Chalk Farm's Roundhouse has gained a somewhat legendary status from hosting the likes of The Rolling Stones, Ramones and Blondie. The circular venue can host drinks receptions for 1,800, dinners for 1,000 or conferences for 1,500.

For other rock 'n' roll options, Abbey Road Studios can be hired for up to 405 guests across four venues, and Camden favourite Koko can accommodate 1,410. Also in Camden is Shaka Zulu, an elaborate, African-inspired space that, at 2,500sqm, is perfect for parties.

NW4's Allianz Park, home to the Saracens rugby team, underwent a huge redevelopment that finished in 2013. The venue boasts 22 function rooms set within a 26-acre greenfield site. For those who favour the Beautiful Game, Arsenal's Emirates Stadium offers 15 different event spaces, while Wembley Stadium provides event planners with the ultimate football venue.

And another thing ...

No feature on north London would be complete without a mention of Tottenham Hotspur. The club is working to deliver a sports, leisure and entertainment destination in the form of a new Haringey stadium, due to open in August 2018. It will be able to host 61,000 sports fans and will feature a fully retractable pitch, public square, conference and banqueting facilities and 'Sky Walk' attraction, which will allow fans to climb the exterior of the building.

Top tip

For entertaining clients, Dodgson recommends the new Granary Square. Here you can find foodie favourites Grain Store and Caravan, as well as 1,080 choreographed fountains that come alive through light. But the space is not just for leisure - at the size of Trafalgar Square, the King's Cross development is encouraging brands and event organisers to hire it for festivals and large-scale events.

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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