I am a die-hard Friends fan. I know, shocker for a twenty-something to be saying such a thing but I really am. Without sounding cheesy, I’ve been watching the show all my life. I could recite any episode to you at any given moment and my general knowledge on the show is borderline obsessive. Since there is no sign of a reunion anytime soon (but there will be one day, I’m sure of it!) I am always looking for new ways to embrace the show ever further, and seeing as I’ve watched all the bloopers and behind the scenes footage on YouTube, I needed more! That’s when I came across Friends Fest. Each year Comedy Central hosts the event with the main feature being replica friends sets which you can walk around and really immersive yourself into the show. I’ve heard of the event before as it tours the UK in the summer, but I’ve been given mixed reviews about it. Some said it was great, whereas others said it was just too busy to enjoy it. Towards the end of 2019, Comedy Central launched the event again, this time with a festive twist, meaning that the sets would be decorated for Christmas. Friends and Christmas? You don’t need to ask me twice! I booked the tickets, attended the event and here is my totally honest review of Friends Fest, festive addition!
What happened at the event?
I arrived at the Old Truman Brewery, London, with my Friends T-shirt on beaming from ear to ear. You’re welcome to spend all day at the event if you wish, but upon booking the tickets online, you are given a set time in which you can visit the sets themselves in order to ease congestion and allow a more enjoyable experience for all.
We was put into a group of around 15 people and we were first shown a video of what to expect, which was then followed by looking at real props from the show. Obviously, the sets themselves are replicas but everything in these cabinets was genuine and let me tell you the selection was vast! They even had actual costumes including Joey’s Superman suit and Chandlers Wedding Tux. I honestly could have spent hours in this area alone, but if I did that I would have held the whole event up!
Firstly, we were taken to Monica’s apartment and my goodness I could have cried! I felt like I had just walked into the TV and I was on the real set! The attention to detail was immense! The festive touches were exactly like the Christmas episodes, including Monica’s half decorated Christmas tree. There were further replicas of props from various episodes, such as The Geller Cup, Monica’s Fancy Plates and the infamous trifle! The main objective of the event is to get the perfect pictures of yourself in the Friends set. Everyone wanted to get that perfect shot! Everyone was really helpful and would ask you to take their picture and in exchange, they would take yours. Staff members were also on hand to take your picture so there were plenty of opportunities to make the most of your visit. Once everyone had had a look around the set, the tour guide would take everyone off the set so you could then take pictures of the empty set without anyone in the pictures which was a genius idea!
After Monica’s, we were on to Joey and Chandler’s apartment, but not before visiting the famous hallway! The detail just kept on coming! We had a quick game on the Foosball table, sat in the Barcaloungers, and wrote a message on the etch‑a‑sketch which hangs on the back of the door. Once again we had the protocol of sharing pictures and clearing the set, and then we were onto Central Perk!
I SAT ON THE ORANGE COUCH! It’s certainly something to tick of the bucket list! I sat on Phoebe’s stool with her guitar but luckily for everyone else there, I didn’t break into a verse of Smelly Cat. I even went behind the counter and overall just lived my best life! Once the tour was over, there was still plenty to explore! There was yet another Central Perk, but this time it was a fully functioning cafe where you could grab a coffee and watch some classic episodes of the show.
After a quick refreshment, it was onto the next area of the event which included yet more photo opportunities! There were about 6 attractions in which you could line up, hand your phone to a member of staff and get some amazing pictures taken within some amazing attractions including a reenactment of the title sequence and the floating head scene. There was also an attraction in which you could dress up as your favorite characters, and best of all, you could meet the Holiday Armadillo!
So, what did I make of the event?
I have to say, I was blown away! Not only were the sets incredibly realistic and the activities on offer unbelievable, the organisation of the event really made it. Being an over-thinker, I had been worrying about getting the dream pictures ever since I booked the event back in July, but I was put at ease the minute I walked through the door. The staff were really friendly and made sure everyone was having a great time. The event itself was busy but it never stopped me from ticking everything off my list. The lines for the attractions moved quickly and efficiently which was great. The gift shop also deserves a mention. More and more friends merchandise is being released in High Street shops but I have to say I’m not overly keen on most of it, so I did go the event without considering the gift shop. However, the merchandise that was on offer was great! I mean you could actually buy a Hugsy! I ended spending a bit too much money but hey I enjoyed myself and that’s all that matters!
All in all, Friends Fest is a fantastic event which I cannot recommend enough to any Friends fan! I would say that now that I’ve visited the event, I wouldn’t be back in a hurry purely because I have experienced it now. However, if new attractions were to be released, I would definitely consider a second visit. There is no word yet if Friends Fest is returning in 2020, but as it’s been running every year for the last few years in cities around the UK including Manchester and London, I would say it is highly likely to be doing so again, so be sure to keep an eye on the Comedy Central socials for exact dates. Are you planning a visit to Friends Fest and have any questions? Or maybe you’ve been as well and also loved it? Let me know in the comments!