With Christmas just around the corner…

 

There’s only 6 weeks left ‘til Christmas! To help you find what you’re looking for this festive period we’ve put together a list of some seasonal deals and best available dates. Organised by location, our venues and events ‘have bells on’ this Christmas…

 

SCOTLAND

PITTODRIE STADIUM, ABERDEEN

80’s Mania Night

‘Tis the season to be silly! This December Aberdeen FC’s stadium is hosting an ‘80’s Mania Night’ including a 3 course festive meal, a live 80’s tribute act, a disco and retro fancy dress.

Available on: Friday 1st December

Click here to learn more 

Bring Your Party to Our Party

Drinks offer: complimentary drinks token for every guest in “Bring Your Party to Our Party” nights

Christmas is something special at Pittodrie Stadium, and their party nights are not to be missed… Enjoy a delicious meal with all the trimmings, a glass of fizz and entertainment from our resident DJ. Celebrate the festive season in style with Pittodrie Events.

Available on: Saturday 2nd December and Friday 8th December ONLY

Click here to learn more

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Pittodrie Stadium in the snow

 

 

HAMILTON PARK RACECOURSE, GLASGOW

Race to Party at Our Party

 Shared party night in our main grandstand which includes an arrival prosecco, three course meal with ½ bottle of wine per person and DJ entertainment – guaranteed to fill you with festive cheer.

Available on:  Saturday 23rd December

 Thank Goodness It’s Nearly February Party Night

 Too busy to celebrate Christmas in December? Then book on to our January Party night. The shared party night includes an arrival prosecco, three course meal with ½ bottle of wine per person and DJ entertainment.

Available on:  Saturday 27th January 2018

Click here to learn more

 

 

HAMPDEN PARK, GLASGOW

Hampden Park has added some fantastic extras for those booking in November, quote the below to take advantage of the offers

The Masquerade Package now includes:

  •  Arrival festive cocktail from 7pm
  • 1 drink per person – 2 now as part of our November offer
  • Delicious 3 course meal
  • Festive novelties
  • DJ and entertainment until 1am
  • £10.00 off per guest!

Click here to learn more 

The Curry Karaoke Nights now include:

  • Delicious 2 course curry buffet
  • 1x drink per person
  • Entertainment until 1am and karaoke until 1am.
  • Bottle of prosecco on the table for bookers who quote “ PROSECCO” when enquiring

Click here to learn more

 

 

EDINBURGH CORN EXCHANGE

Hogmanay Hoot!

 Spend New Year’s Eve at the Hogmanay Hoot! With over 15 years’ experience at organising the best indoor Hogmanay celebration in town, where better to celebrate? Join “Hoot Live” and party in the main Exchange with over 1000 other revellers, enjoying the Ceilidh Band, and DJ Scott and live pipes and drums

Available on: Sunday 31st December

To learn more click here

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Edinburgh Corn Exchange

NORTHERN ENGLAND

ST JAMES’ PARK, NEWCASTLE

NYE Gala Dinner

Have a ‘ball’ this New Year’s Eve at St. James’ Park this year. Join us for our Gala Dinner, including a delicious four-course meal, champagne on arrival, live entertainment, and a traditional piper to bring in the New Year at Midnight.

Available on: Sunday 31st December

To learn more click here

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The epic St James’ Park

LONDON

BATEAUX LONDON

Shared Christmas Lunch at £69 per person. Share your Christmas lunch on the Thames with friends and other guests dining on the river.

Available on:  6th, 7th, 8th, 13th, 14th and 15th December (subject to availability, reserved to groups of 6 or more).

To learn more click here

Shared Christmas Dinner at £110 per person. Share your Christmas dinner on the Thames at night with friends and other guests dining on the river.

Available on: 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th December (subject to availability, reserved to groups of 6 or more).

To learn more click here

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Bateaux London, The Symphony

 

 

IWM LONDON

Available on: Friday 1st December, Thursday 7th December, Friday 15th December,  Thursday 21st December and Friday 22nd December

The IWM London is offering private and public parties this Christmas – sip Champagne in the shadow of a Spitfire, dance to the swinging sounds of the 40’s in our magnificent Atrium, and much more.

Click here to learn more

 

 

SOUTHERN ENGLAND

BATEAUX WINDSOR

Christmas Eve Lunch and Supper at £55 per person. Spend Christmas Eve enjoying a festive lunch with your nearest and dearest whilst sailing through Windsor.

Click here to learn more 

New Year’s Eve at £165 per person. Bid farewell to 2017 in style with the best seats on the river as Windsor’s stunning sights at night unfold around you.

Click here to learn more 

 

 

THE ATHENAEUM, BURY ST EDMUNDS

A Great Gatsby Christmas

 A Great Gastby Christmas. Join us for an extravaganza of 1920’s fashion, food and festive fun this Christmas. Forget prohibition and indulge in a welcome drink, a 3 course meal, casino games and dancing.

Tables can accommodate minimum of 8 guests up to a maximum of 12. The package cost £38.00 pp

Available on: Thursday 7th December

Click here to learn more

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The Athenaeum

 

THE APEX, BURY ST EDMUNDS

Las Vegas Christmas

 Don’t gamble with waiting to book this one! At The Apex’s seasonal and scandalous Las Vegas Christmas you can enjoy a welcome drink on arrival and a three-course meal for £48.00 per person, followed by a set from the resident DJ amongst casino tables and a rodeo bull.

Tables can accommodate a minimum of 10 guests up to a maximum of 12. The package cost £48.00 per person

Available on:  Friday 8th December

Click here to learn more

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Party at The Apex

In conversation with Raymond Blanc: The Michelin-Starred Chef Shares His Catering Secrets

London’s catering and events community gather annually for SquareMeal’s Venues & Events Live – to showcase, share and speak about the best and latest in the industry.

This year there was edible smoke (!) talks from famous chefs and cutting-edge marketeers and, most importantly, there was us. Prestige Venues & Events collaborated with Raymond Blanc OBE and The RHS to present Jardin Blanc – a gorgeous secret garden restaurant for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018.

Launching Jardin Blanc, now in its third year, Raymond Blanc gave a live interview in front of an eager audience. Here, we share Raymond’s passion, his take on the events industry and some insider knowledge on Jardin Blanc 2018.

A MOVE FROM RESTAURANTS TO EVENTS…

Raymond’s work in the events world stems all the way back to his early days at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, his two Michelin starred restaurant and hotel in leafy Oxfordshire. When a client – be it corporate or private – hosts an event at Le Manoir, Raymond and his team are deeply involved in the details (calling himself a curator, rather than a manager). He takes his guests’ enjoyment very very seriously, and the team love hosting these intimate lunches, dinners, weddings and corporate events throughout the year.

This feeling of intimacy and personalisation is something Raymond Blanc’s team undoubtedly bring to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

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A peek inside Jardin Blanc at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

HIGH QUALITY, UP-SCALED

Raymond suggests that high quality hospitality is about knowing your guests, working with enthusiasm and, of course, an exceedingly capable team.

“At Jardin Blanc, guests are looking for so much more than just good catering, they want an experience. Guests no longer want a corporate environment, they want joy, fun, to feel well – and, alongside this, a better business environment, a social space where networking is a pleasure.

To make an operation like Jardin Blanc flourish you need to have a great team and a great plan. Every detail is critical to ensure the guest feels happy at every level. Your team need to be specialists and this comes from training – invest in your people if you want them to be completely confident, instil faith in the project and faith in themselves.”

Raymond also mentioned his partners – the RHS and Prestige Venues & Events – stating that each party brings something to the table, making the event bolder and better. Each are a great sources of support, with strong, matching values of ‘responsible luxury’.

FOOD TRENDS: TO LEAD OR FOLLOW

Raymond errs on the side of style rather than fashion.  With the ambition of creating modern classics, Raymond does, however, listen to modern guests’ changing wants and needs. Plus, there’s practicality too: for example, finger foods help guests move around whilst eating, creating a more convivial environment, whilst sharing dishes prompt interaction between guests at the table – providing a point of discussion for those who may never have met before.

Raymond wants the food at Jardin Blanc to enrich the experience, to give guests the adventure of tasting something they’ve never tried before.  This sense of childlike wonder extends to the entertainment too: “We have beautiful bars, sculptures, gardens, music, champagne and even garden swings for taking in the afternoon sun. And the dining rooms are tailored to a client who is looking for a beautiful yet relaxing space, forgetting the stress of everyday and bringing small delights throughout.”

“It’s a micro climate,” Raymond says, “a haven in Chelsea.”

***

For more infomation on Jardin Blanc and their new packages for 2018, click here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/Food-drink/Jardin-Blanc

Spice it up: Christmas at Knebworth House

Christmas is all about tradition and, it just so happens that, curry is the traditional, British dish Knebworth House fancy for their dinner.

Curry has been popular in the UK since the days of the British Empire, signifying the imagined glamour of the Raj. Many of the Indian curries we enjoy today are modified versions of an original: made milder for British palates, adjusted in terms of the ingredients available and made with a few odd alternations along the way (that yielded delicious results!). Curry is now a fundamentally British dish, representative of a meeting of cultures, colours and flavours.

Curry and Christmas are meeting in perfect harmony this year in Knebworth House’s Cobbold Barn. Diners are invited to indulge in a two-course Indian curry buffet, followed by traditional celebrations, a DJ and dancing – oh, and a late night bar to accompany the dancing… it’s only right.

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The menu offers a well-curated selection of dishes, giving guests a choice between hot and mild, meat and vegetarian. This includes chicken tikka masala, chickpea, spinach and tomato curry, saffron rice, tarka dhal, naan bread, poppadums and pickles, with a dessert of mouth-watering mango cheesecake.

However, if you fancy a classic Christmas, Knebworth House are offering a scrumptious, old fashioned turkey dinner. Expect a perfected roast from one of the most historic venues in England.

Knebworth Xmas

Hosted in the Cobbold Barn, guests can indulge in three-course meal of aubergine or smoked salmon cannelloni followed by roast turkey with potato fondant, or roasted root vegetables and a red wine jus for veggies, Christmas pudding cheesecake and coffee.

The Cobbold Barn is named after current residents of Knebworth House, the Lytton-Cobbolds, whose family have lived in there for an astounding nineteen generations! Though, the Barn itself has been around for a much shorter length of time, it is a contemporary build, with a beautiful oak structure and opens onto a private garden.

Likewise, a traditional turkey dinner will be served under Knebworth’s spectacular, star-clothed marquee as part of their Christmas in Central Park package. Available for private bookings of 250 persons or more, your party-guests can dine and dance in luxury. The night will feature a three-course meal, table crackers, karaoke and a late bar and disco (running until 1am the next morning).

No matter which tradition you choose to celebrate at Christmas, you are certain to have a unique time at Knebworth House. Also… who doesn’t love tikka and turkey?

For more information on our Christmas packages, see our #trulymagicalChristmas brochure here

Christmas Curry Nights are available on Wednesday 6th, 13th and 20th December 2017.
A Cobbold Christmas is available throughout December for both lunch and dinner.
Christmas in Central Park exclusive hire is available from Sunday to Wednesday in December.
On Sunday 3th, 10th and 17th December Santa Claus will be paying pre-Christmas visits to families enjoying lunch at Knebworth Barns, bringing a gift for every child.

 

Cooking back at The Open with chef Malcolm Emery

Malcolm Emery is no ordinary chef. With a glamorous career that includes catering the country’s most impressive venues and events; to drop a few names: Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, the Lord Mayor’s Banquet and Buckingham Palace’s Garden Parties. It is nevertheless his incredible length of service at The Open golf championship (a whopping 42 years!) which Malcolm credits as the most defining aspect of his working-life to date.

Malcolm Emery

Principal Chef, Malcolm Emery

Since his first Open in 1975, Malcolm has seen the competition change dramatically, witnessing its incredible growth first hand. One of the key challenges and pleasures in his preparation for The Open is the event’s annually changing location. Whilst other Sodexo hospitality events – such as Royal Ascot and Henley Royal Regatta – are held in the same location each year, The Open is a somewhat nomadic championship. Each location presents its own unique set of surprises, of which Malcom and his team have unfailingly overcome via working in temporary structures and managing the logistics of delivering supplies to the middle of a course.

Malcolm, most recently, was instrumental in overseeing the opening of The Champions Club restaurant. The Club includes roaming waiters offering a selection of pre-lunch canapés, chefs serving a variety of bistro style classics and savoury snacks from a central station and a quirky, centrepiece garden with large bar area. The experience allows guests to enjoy the luxuries of fine food and flexibility, as they are able to drop in at any time rather than having to book.

Planning is a crucial consideration at The Open, with 700 covers being served each day, innovation and quality are of paramount importance. A different menu is presented each day, including everything from a full Scottish breakfast to a five-course lunch and afternoon tea. The key to Malcolm’s success is his enthusiasm to discover new recipes, the best local fare and new ways of food preparation, a pursuit which involves participating in food innovation tours and study groups as well as working closely with his supply team.

The last 42 years have seen The Open and its culinary offerings evolve in leaps and bounds. And one thing is certain; whether at this internationally renowned sporting event, or at any number of other beautiful venues, with Malcolm at the helm, the catering is sure to score a hole in one.

For further details on Hospitality at The Open, go to https://www.theopen.com/  or contact Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events on 0845 6055 699 or email Venues&Events.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com

Al Fresco Yoga at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

By midsummer, our thoughts (and meal plans) revolve around long balmy evenings, bright summer mornings and al fresco dining.

And so – with this in mind – The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh have embraced sunshine, sustenance and… serenity with their summer series of Yoga Breakfasts.

The first in a series of three took place last weekend overlooking RBGE’s beautiful biodiversity pond and gardens; the sessions are hosted outdoors, on the peaceful and newly refurbished terrace of the John Hope Gateway Restaurant.

The classes have been created in partnership with world-renowned athletic apparel brand, lululemon, from whom we’ve borrowed expert Hatha yoga educator, Pam Echiverria. Hatha yoga focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing, boosting physical and mental wellbeing, and so supports Sodexo’s ethos of improving quality of life.

After a good stretch and gentle meditation, guests indulged in a healthy breakfast. Hosted in the refreshed Gateway Restaurant, the menus included ingredients from RBGE’s very own market-garden, a ¾ acre vegetable plot within the grounds. Their full time gardener grows produce for all catering operations throughout the site and works closely with the team to ensure the finest and freshest ingredients are included in the dishes.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Yoga Breakfasts are the perfect way to use this new space, to explore and experience the restaurant and gardens it in a way it’s never been experienced before.

Click here to learn more about the Yoga Breakfasts at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

For more summer event options check out our summer brochure too!

Or contact us on 0845 6055 699, or email Venues&Events.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com or visit www.prestigevenuesandevents.sodexo.com.

Driving away inequality with Edinburgh Food Social

We recently teamed up with partners Edinburgh Food Social (EFS) and unveiled a brand-new food truck to tackle food inequality in the Scottish capital.

This exciting, new project between ourselves and EFS aims to provide cookery education to schools and communities in Edinburgh.

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Edinburgh Food Social © Lesley Martin 2017

The social enterprise was set up by City Businesswoman, Eleanor Cunningham, who also runs the Edinburgh Larder cafes and catering business in the city. Eleanor successfully launched a crowdfunding campaign last year to raise funds for the project, raising a total of £10,000. We also pledged our support behind the venture by providing a financial donation, as well as forming a long-term partnership with the not-for-profit organisation. The relationship will see our chefs and catering staff leading workshops and sharing their knowledge with participants of the food truck initiative.

Eleanor said: “We want to encourage young people and their parents to cook more and found that many families felt they didn’t have the skills to prepare a wholesome meal from scratch using accessible, fresh ingredients. We want to give people the confidence to cook again and to teach them that healthy eating does not need to be expensive. So far we’ve been able to deliver healthy eating and cooking programmes to six schools in Edinburgh, as well as taking part in the two-day ‘Power of Food’ festival which celebrates community gardens and seasonal produce. We can now expand the initiative and will be unveiling a series of workshops, cookery classes and school visits later this year, where the food truck will act as a mobile classroom and provide a purpose-built kitchen.”

Chair Eleanor Cunningham

Founder, Eleanor Cunningham

Our very own Sandy Robson, who is working on the project with EFS, also commented: “At Sodexo we are passionate about local food and sharing our skills with the next generation. Learning to cook can be the first step in developing a passion for food, this in turn can lead to a rewarding and diverse career in hospitality. We hope that together with EFS, we can extend beyond simply improving the quality of dishes that families cook together and encourage some of the young people to consider a career in hospitality.”

The food truck was officially launched with the help of Gracemount High School, whose pupils have already benefited from the exciting project.

For further information about the initiative visit www.edinburghlarder.co.uk/socialenterprise/

Centuries old, still fresh: Chefs revive recipes from Blair Castle’s archives

We are lucky to work in some of the country’s most prestigious and historic venues, whether as the full-time caterer or for one-off events. Just being in these spaces provides a wealth of inspiration. For our chefs at Blair Castle – a stunning stately home and visitor attraction in Highland Perthshire – the recent Highlanders’ Parade provided the perfect occasion to get creative and pay homage to the venue’s own Highland army.

The Atholl Highlanders are Europe’s only remaining private army and are based at Blair Castle. More than 1500 visitors descend on the venue on the last weekend of May to watch their annual march. Keen to ensure the food played a central role in the celebration, Head Chef, George Urquhart, teamed up with the Castle’s own archivist to study and translate centuries’ old recipes stored in the attraction’s records, choosing three to re-create to serve to guests attending the May parade.

The dishes, which were added to the menu in the Tullibardine Restaurant, included Roe Deer Mariane – a very slow cooked venison stew, which in the 18th century would have taken almost a month to prepare, and Essence of Beef – a pulled beef dish served with mash and spring greens. This recipe was shared with the Atholl family’s cook during a trip to Westminster in the early 1900s.

Sweet treat Gingerbread was offered for desert with local tipple, Atholl Brose – which is similar to Baileys but consists of oats, honey and whisky (and is available to buy from the gift shop). According to local legend, the drink is named after the 1st Earl of Atholl, who quashed a Highland rebellion in 1475 by filling the well of the rebel leader with this mixture. It is said that the enemy enjoyed the drink so much he passed out and was easily captured.

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Roe Deer Mariane, Essence of Beef & Atholl Brose

Chef George Urquhart, of Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events at Blair Castle, said: “We wanted to create a really special dining experience on what is a spectacular and historic day for the Castle. What better way than to leap in to the archives and take inspiration from the cooks that have gone before us.

“Despite changes in modern technology and cooking styles, it was very humbling to discover that these old recipes reflected the core ethos of the restaurant today – to serve hearty, Scottish fayre using the best local ingredients available.”

Chef Gordon Urquhart and Castle Archivist Keren Guthrie 2 (2)

Chef Gordon Urquhart & Castle Archivist, Keren Guthrie

As well as discovering recipes for hearty meals, the archivist also unearthed guides to medicinal potions, such as a cure for ‘The Vapours’ (hysteria and fainting) dating from 1690, which involved collecting and soaking woodlice in whisky, before crushing the mixture and drinking it on an empty stomach twice a day! Seems like Chef George chose the right recipes for the celebration.

For further details on Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events call the central enquiry hub on 0845 6055 699, or email Venues&Events.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com or visit www.prestigevenuesandevents.sodexo.com.

Let It Shine: Knebworth goes the whole hog this summer!

Corporate clients can go the whole hog – and enjoy all the fun of the fair this summer – at Knebworth House.

The iconic venue is opening its 250 acre grounds to businesses looking for some summer party fun or a team building event with a difference.

The team at the venue have created a range of special packages for social and business guests to enjoy including everything from street food and hog roasts to fairground rides and “It’s a Knockout” style games.

A basic Summer Party BBQ option is on offer which includes hire of the Cobbold barn and garden in Knebworth’s grounds, a barbecue, giant garden games and access to Knebworth Park, Gardens, the adventure playground and the dinosaur trail.

Alternatively, those looking to do something that little bit different for a company away day or family fun day can opt for specialist packages which include full catering and event organising services, guided tours of Knebworth House and Gardens and a huge range of fun activities including inflatables, fairgrounds rides, school sports day-style races and motorised activities.

Knebworth Kart

Knebworth Kart

Hog roasts are also available during the summer months for parties of 100 guests or more and make a great alternative to BBQ’s or street food options.

All you need then is good weather but no worries if not – there is plenty of space inside if you need to take cover!

For further information about special summer packages at Knebworth House or at other venues within our portfolio visit: http://bit.ly/2slp5bn

Download our Let It Shine guide with more venues and ideas for summer!

Summer 2017 with Prestige Venue & Events

View our Let It Shine brochure for Summer ’17

We’re getting into the spirit of summer with a new venue guide that highlights the very best of this sweetest, steamiest season.

Prestige Venues & Events present summer packages and events for business and leisure alike; from family fun days and team building activities, to outdoor dining and English garden parties.

Our Let It Shine guide focuses on offers from May to September at outstanding venues, such as The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Brighton’s state-of-the-art Amex Stadium, and includes hospitality packages for iconic British events, like Royal Ascot, Jardin Blanc at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show and The Open Championship.

Our chefs have created menus that embrace the summer and use colourful, seasonal produce. With barbecues and hog roasts available to private hire guests at Knebworth House, as well as the venue opening up its grounds for  “It’s A Knockout” and sports day-style team building activities (because all work and no play…).

Knebworth House

Knebworth House

Barbecues are also on the agenda at Edinburgh Corn Exchange and The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.  Perth Racecourse is teaming finger-licking BBQ food with a vintage-style funfair, whereas Aberdeen Football Club will be taking ‘pride’ in special screenings of the Lion King at their drive-in cinema.

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The Lion King at Aberdeen FC

Cinema-inspired treats also feature in the summer offer at Leeds’ Headingley Carnegie Stadium, which is sweetening corporate events with popcorn and pick and mix, mini ice creams and chocolate bars or – for a healthier option – fruit kebabs, mixed nuts and seeds.

In the capital the Thames takes centre stage, with restaurant cruise Bateaux London hosting rooftop parties aboard their Scandinavian-designed vessel, The Harmony. Guests can enjoy an off-the-grill menu in a setting of flowers, fruit trees and the backdrop of London’s most famous sights.

Further up river, the recently launched Bateaux Windsor is offering a prosecco reception for guests, followed by a formal dinner, as the boat glides through one of England’s most historic, picturesque towns.

From a quintessentially English town, to a traditionally English pastime: The Apex and The Athenaeum – both in Bury St Edmunds – are swapping lunch for afternoon tea this summer, with a free bottle of fizz to enjoy in the sunshine.

Event organisers who feel summer just wouldn’t be complete without a glass of Pimms (correct!) should head to Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms, where it will feature in post-conference drinks receptions, alongside mini strawberry tarts.

Event guests at three of Tyneside’s top museums – Discovery, the Laing Art Gallery and The Great North Museum: Hancock – will also be offered seasonal drinks in the form of fruit punch at lunchtime. While IWM London, one of the capital’s leading visitor attractions, is serving post-conference classic cocktails.

Also in London, thrill seekers can mix business with pleasure at Emirates Aviation Experience , where they can take the controls of a flight simulator before relaxing on a terrace that overlooks the Thames – a great team building day out.

Other team building activity days can be found at Glasgow’s Hampden Park Stadium – where clients can follow in the ‘bootsteps’ of their heroes and become footballers for a day – and the city’s Hamilton Park Racecourse, which runs a variety of group activities too.

The word famous Ascot Racecourse is available for team building activities this summer in its gorgeous grounds. Plus, those who book before 31 October 2017 can enjoy a 10 per cent discount.

Ice cream and lollies can be added to day delegate packages at Everton Football Club’s Goodison Park Stadium and Belfast’s The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, while Newcastle United’s St James’ Park ground is giving guests a Purely Belter package, with bacon rolls on arrival and unlimited tea and coffee throughout the day.

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St James’s Park Ground

For further details on Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events’ Let It Shine guide call the central enquiry hub on 0845 6055 699, or email Venues&Events.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com or visit www.prestigevenuesandevents.sodexo.com.

A journey down the Thames

The River Thames starts as a small trickle in the Cotswolds and travels over 210 miles through the heart of some of England’s most picturesque towns, right into the centre of London and eventually, out into the North Sea. With plenty to see and do along the route we thought we’d take you on a virtual journey and perhaps stop off at a few interesting places along the way.

We start the journey at Henley on Thames which was recently voted by the Times as one of the best places to live in the English countryside. It’s also the home of Henley Royal Regatta which undoubtedly is the highlight of both the summer sporting and social calendar. The first event was held in 1839 and has been held annually ever since (except the two World Wars). It gained royal patronage in 1851 and it was originally staged as a public attraction with a fair. The emphasis rapidly changed so that competitive amateur rowing became its main purpose and over the years it has grown to its current form of five days which this year takes place on the 28th June – 2nd July.

Moving further down the river to Windsor you’ll find a beautiful and historic destination. Home to Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world and the Queen’s favourite weekend home. Its newest experience is Bateaux Windsor – the only one of its kind in the area and the sister company to Bateaux London. This elegant dining cruise delivers delicious dishes to passengers and enables guests to see the sights whilst cruising down the river.

WINDSOR

From one royal residence to another, next stop is Hampton Court which can be best described as the ‘story of two palaces’: a Tudor palace, established by Cardinal Wolsey and made even more magnificent by Henry VIII, alongside a baroque palace built by William III and Mary II. Today the palace is a successful visitor attraction as well as home to the world’s largest, annual flower show which takes place every July. The first RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show was held in 1990 and it now welcomes over 130,000 visitors every year with this year’s event due to take place on the 4th – 9th July.

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Fireworks on The Long Water at Hampton Court Palace

Moving east to the Royal Hospital Chelsea which of course has been the home of our beloved Chelsea Pensioners for over 325 years. The Royal Hospital is a Grade I and II listed building which was left to the Chelsea Pensioners by Charles II and Sir Christopher Wren and continues to be home for over 300 army veterans. It’s also the home to RHS Chelsea Flower Show (23rd – 27th May 2017) which takes place every year in the grounds of the hospital. This high profile event inspires millions through showcasing the best in garden design. This year’s event sees the return of Jardin Blanc; the second year of Raymond Blanc’s special horticultural hospitality experience. Nestled in a peaceful corner of the show, Jardin Blanc offers a variety of unique options for day and evening entertainment with the finest food and fantastic flowers.

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Keep checking the blog for part two of our journey down the Thames in the next few weeks – we’ll be visiting Bateaux London, The Crystal and the Emirates Aviation Experience – see you then!

For further information about all of the above venues and events visit http://www.prestigevenuesandevents.sodexo.com/

The Future of Farming: we spoke to Growing Underground as they prepare for Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Last week, we went to visit salad farming start-up and suppliers to our Chelsea Flower Show hospitality offer, Jardin Blanc: Growing Underground.

Growing Underground grow fresh (and mouth-wateringly tasty!) micro greens and salad leaves using almost completely sustainable practices. The farm is based underground in a series of World War II –built tunnels – used as bomb shelters during this time – that sit 33 meters below the streets of Clapham.

Using the latest hydroponic systems and LED technology, their crops are grown all year-round in a pesticide-free environment. The hydroponics system uses 70% less water than traditional open-field farming and ensures that all nutrients are kept within the closed-loop system. Plus, GU drastically reduce the miles their leaves travel by keeping produce local – the leaves can be in your kitchen within 4 hours of being picked and packed!

Dressed in our best hair-nets, white coats and wellingtons (to protect the plants from any pollutants) we were given a tour of Growing Underground’s warren. The tunnels are extensive, running from Clapham high-street to the middle of The Common. They hum with machinery and glow neon-pink with LED lights. There are also a few quieter, darker tunnels that remain empty and still represent a bygone time: the space is an uncanny clash of future and past.

Founded by Richard Ballard and Steven Dring, in partnership with celebrity chef Michel Roux Jr, the company’s initiative is to promote sustainable farming in the UK and beyond. The idea was born out of Richard and Steven’s interest futurism, sustainability and urban farming, along with the pairs’ robust business acumen.

This year at Jardin Blanc, Growing Underground’s micro herbs are a main feature; with their greens displayed in ornate miniature greenhouses at the centre of dining tables. Guest will be encouraged to select and snip their own herbs, then add to their dishes to personalise and enhance. Plus, the restaurant’s Executive Chef, Raymond Blanc OBE, will be using a bespoke combination of leaves – rocket, radish, red mustard, coriander and fennel – to make the menu pop!

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Excited to work with Growing Underground again, The Royal Horticultural Society invited Richard to give a talk at the very first London Urban Garden Show in November 2016. The event explored the challenges of urban growing through the ages, with Growing Underground discussing its future, including technology and new, prospective models of urban growing capable of feeding our global population.

*We didn’t know what this meant either! The definition of hydroponic is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil.

For more information on Jardin Blanc at The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flowers Show click here.

Sunday Brunch: a ‘social’ affair

A few weeks ago we launched a competition to celebrate the exclusive Jardin Blanc experience at the Chelsea Flower Show which this year takes places on the 23rd – 27th May 2017.

In return for your mouth-watering brunch pictures we are offering a range of fanciful prizes including hotel stays, champagne treats and lots more!

You’ve certainly had all the tummies rumbling in the office with pictures of your delicious dishes and tasty treats. The first of our winners was @Brinibelle with her poached eggs, salmon and spinach on toast looking totally delicious. Hannah Rowe became our second winner with her poached egg and avocado on toast creation! We particularly liked Colin Wheeler James’ entry of scrambled duck egg, oak smoked salmon and chive flowers on a toasted bagel as well as Louise Wong’s Spanish eggs with Chorizo and peppers. You may have had enough of chocolate eggs this weekend, but don’t let that put you off the savoury kind!

The competition runs until 10th May and to enter simply upload your best looking homemade brunch picture to our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages with the hashtag #JardinBlancSundayBrunch

You can also enter by following the link below: http://bit.ly/2mPrCY8

Jardin Blanc, a beautiful collaboration between Raymond Blanc OBE, The RHS and Sodexo – is nestled in a peaceful corner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and offers a variety of hospitality options for day and evening – the perfect way to enjoy the show with guests and clients.

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For further information about Chelsea Flower Show and the Jardin Blanc Experience visit www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/Food-drink/Jardin-Blanc