It’s important to start your event off on the right foot. You want your attendees to be excited and impressed from the very first moment they arrive. With these grand entrance ideas, you will do just that. Your attendees first impression will set the tone for the rest of the event. With these grand entrances, you can make that impression a great one and start your event off on the right foot!
First things first, these grand entrance ideas are not one size fits all. Always be sure your event entrance matches the theme and tone of your event. There are so many grand entrance ideas, but it’s key that you match your event style. If you are having a tech conference an all floral entryway may not make as much sense as an LED tunnel or some of our other ideas below. If it’s a smaller low key event, then a red carpet might not be your best bet. Always think of your overall theming and why behind your event, and stay true to that.
So now for the moment, you have been waiting for! 49 grand entrance ideas guaranteed to impress your guests below!
Amazing Race Style Game
We are all about gamification at events! You can tap into this trend by creating a game similar to the Amazing Race TV show to gain entrance into your event. If you aren’t familiar with the show, contests travel all over the world, receive clues and race to the final locations. You could use this concept and turn your grand entrance into a game! Send your attendees on a race to find the event! This could work well with many styles of events, but I think it would work particularly well for a team building event!
Augmented reality at events is here to stay! Incorporate it into your event entrance! Think pokemon go, your guests. Brand events can have demos of products, you can add elements that will enhance reality such as facts that pop up over certain areas and more. For more inspiration, we love the ideas Bizbash share’s in their article 4 Types of Augmented Reality for Events.
Events are typically beautiful inside, but what if that extends to the outside of the venue? A grand entrance idea like no other is to make the venue a masterpiece! You could partner with a local artist to create an art installation directly on the venue. Attendees will be walking through impressive art into your event. Don’t look for inspiration from other events, take inspiration from artists like Meow Woof who use art to create an immersive experience that wows their visitors from start to finish!
A bridge is full of symbolism, one it is well known for “is that of hope. If you can just get over that bridge, you may find yourself in a better place on the other side.” Use a bridge to take your guests into your event. I love this idea for a gala or fundraiser showing hope for the cause.
Build a Scene
A great event theme is crucial to the success of your event. Often though, the theming is only obvious once you are inside the event. Take your theme out of the venue and into the grand entrance! Build scenes surrounding your entrance to fit your theme. If you are having a jungle themed gala, consider adding foliage, rainforest sounds, and possibly animals! Candyland theme? Add larger than life pieces of colorful candy for a sense of whimsy!
An event with an enchanting theme or romantic feel would really benefit from this grand entrance idea! Who doesn’t want to feel like a princess for a night? Have your guests take a horse-drawn carriage to the location of your event. Make sure upon arrival there is eloquently dressed staff to greet them and help them out of the carriage and into the night!
If your event is geared towards people who love Characters or something like a movie premiere have you considered having the characters out to greet the attendees at the grand entrance? This would work exceptionally well at a kids event or even something like a comicon. Fans LOVE to see their favorite characters in person and it is a great way to surprise and delight your guests! The interactions they have could create memories that last a lifetime!
Create A Welcome Video
Before your event create a welcome video that sets the tone when attendees arrive. You can make it action packed or just a simple speech. Have fun and be creative, this will be your guests first impression! I personally love the video above from the 2015 Sales Conference BELIEVE. As you can imagine this video got their audience fired up and ready for the conference!
Create a Holding Room
We have seen this done time and time again at theme parks throughout the world. Cough Cough, Disney Worlds iconic Haunted Mansion in the video above. If you have never been on this ride let me explain. Upon arrival into the mansion, guests are ushered into a circular room lovingly coined the Stretching Room. Once all the guests are inside, the lights go out and the show begins. While in the room they will transition from the magical theme park outside into a haunted world, the ceiling appears to grow higher and higher stretching, chilling music plays and it really sets the tone for the ride ahead. Why not take this trick and implement it at events? It could be as simple as when guests arrive ushering them into a room where a short video plays preparing and exciting guests for the event ahead.
We have all see confetti at the end of events, but have you considered starting your event off with a bang? Shooting confetti at the beginning of your event will immediately add a sense of fun for your guests. Who doesn’t love confetti?
If you have a location where parking leaves a lot to be desired. Having your guest’s park off-site and have them ride in on a cool car can not only make a great grand entrance but alleviate frustration. Arrange for guests to park off-site where a cool car will take them to the event destination. This will allow them to arrive like a VIP. With this idea the sky’s the limit, you could transport guests in exotic cars or it can be scaled down to vans or buses.
Countdown to The Event
Countdowns are a sure fire way to get people excited. Think of how many people every year gather around to count down on new years eve. While we aren’t suggesting you should try to recreate the iconic Times Square ball, you could create your own unique event countdown! This could be as simple as a countdown running on a screen at the even entrance, or it could be something much more elaborate such as prizes given away at specific countdown marks! By having a countdown to the start you will have guests engaged and anticipation growing for the big event!
Easy Breezy Color Wash
If your chosen venue is an architectural gem, then let it speak for itself. Not all grand entrance ideas have to be elaborate. All, you have to do, is accentuate its features. Use a simple color wash to capture guests attention from the distance and draw them in. Well-placed neon lights, floodlights, and uplighting work well to achieve this technique.
Enchanting Floral Archways
Floral archways have remained the evergreen go-to choice for a grand entrance for event planners for centuries. Not only are they more affordable than several other fancy entrance options, but they are stimulating to more than just one sense. Everyone loves a good whiff of fresh florals!
Engage All 5 Senses
Engaging the 5 senses at an event is a must. According to a survey on multi-sensory events, London & Partners and CWT Meetings & Events found that 78 percent of meeting planners said a multi-sensory event is a more memorable experience for event participants. The proof is in the research if you are looking for a grand entrance to really wow your guests you need to engage all five senses!
Engaging Interactive Games
A grand entrance can also be turned into an interactive experience that entertains the audience and makes them feel like a part of something bigger. Interactive games are great for building up excitement and camaraderie between you and your guests. You can implement technology to create an engaging entrance game for your event.
Not wanting to go the tech route? A great example of a fun interactive entrance that is not high tech was the launch of the Kate Spade/Crane & Co. wedding stationery line. The entryway wall read “Take A Chance, Pick a Card, Any Card” the wall was lined with envelopes that had opportunities to win prizes.
Photo Credit: David Stark Sketchbook
Love it or hate it facial recognition has hit the mainstream. How fitting would it be for guests at a futuristic or technology based event to check in using only their face. Set up a futuristic looking scanning booth that implements facial recognition for guests to enter instead of tickets or bands!
If you are having an after party after a running event or other themes surrounding a journey consider making the event entrance a finish line! This will symbolize guests crossing over and accomplishing their feat! Make it big like the archways you see at major marathons. Add an extra sense of excitement by hiring actors to cheer them on as they cross into the event! You could even give away “medals” that have drink tickets, raffle tickets and more! A fun way to make everyone feel like a winner!
Do you want attendees adrenaline pumping from the moment they arrive at your event? Then a using Pyro to create a fiery entrance is the grand entrance idea for you! Fire is an element you can add on to many of the event entrance ideas you see here too so don’t be afraid to layer ideas.
This grand entrance idea is not for everyone. Having your attendees slide down a firepole is not for the faint of heart. While this is a very memorable and thrilling way to get into your event make sure that you have an option that is more accessible should guests need to opt out.
Imagine guests are lining up waiting to get in. Anticipation is already growing when a flash mob of dancers pops up. This will bring a rush of excitement and the commotion will have guests clamoring to get the party started! Watch the video below as a flash mob breaks out at the Denver International Airport to delight guests during the stressful holiday season travel!
Using fog is a great way and simple way to make a statement at an event entrance. The effect can be used on the floor to appear like guests are walking on a cloud (low lying fog), or it can be used throughout the atmosphere to create an eerie feeling that would be great for a Halloween event. Whenever using fog make sure to check to make sure you have the necessary permits sometimes required for its use.
We are all familiar with food being served at events. This is nothing new. Sometimes it’s great, other times it can problematic, the courses and dinner can drag on forever. Other times you might have to limit your menu options to the standard chicken and steak to keep catering efficient.
What if right at the entrance to your event your guests could choose what they want to eat! By enlisting the help of food trucks to your event entrance you can ensure no guest goes hungry or has to wait too long to eat! You can also allow them to choose exactly what they want to eat! Add multiple trucks with options for the main meal, as well as a few fun dessert trucks for after! Let your guests choose what they would like!
Galleries are a creative way to teach your guests more about the event before they ever step foot inside. For example, if you had an event at CES, you could create a tunnel to have your guests walk through showcasing large photos or patent drawings of the history of electronics with small descriptions by each. A gallery can work for many different events big or small. This grand entrance idea provides guests with a fun and engaging learning opportunity.
Bonus: You could use the facts they have learned during their gallery walkthrough for trivia and giveaways later in the night to entice guests to stick around!
Create a share worthy grand entrance using giant props. These props can be inline with your brand or theme. Guests will line up to take photos with these fun entrance additions which promotes an environment to share your event on social channels. This idea is sure to generate a buzz.
Popsockets created an immersive experience allowing their visitors to their booth at VidCon 2017 to become part of a Popsocket by using a giant Popsocket prop and a photographer. The photographs were transformed into Popsockets on sight giving their visitors something tangible to remember them by!
Give A Gift
You don’t have to wait until the end of the night to give your guests a gift. In fact, why not give them out at the beginning and leverage the bags to engage your attendees? Don’t just give away branded materials, that is expected and boring. Use these bags to excite your guests, give them something to look forward to and make them want to stay through the entire night!
For example, at Funko Fundays in San Diego Comic Con, Funko gives away a “mystery box” of exclusive items that the attendees (who are the biggest fans of Funko) cannot get anywhere else. To make the mystery boxes even more interesting not every box is the same. This encourages engagement and has attendees comparing and trading items from the start of the event. It has come to be one of the most anticipated parts of the event.
The password above is not the only trick the Safe House has to offer. If you have ever been to the Safe House, you know to even get there you have to first find the entrance. Seems easy right? Wrong! It is an unmarked door in an alley, something you would not expect to find as an entrance for a lounge. You can take this idea and apply it to an event. When guests have to FIND the entrance for the event it is interactive and which creates a memorable experience before even entering your event.
Remember in 2012 when the world collectively lost their mind when a hologram of Tupac appeared at Coachella? I do too. If you are looking for a futuristic feel consider swapping out your human greeters for holograms. Guests will be in awe of the technology and surely talking about it to all their friends.
Hot Air Balloon
Imagine your guests taking a hot air balloon to arrive at your event! Sounds dreamy right? This is one of my favorite grand entrance ideas, it is so unique that you can be sure that people will be talking and sharing it away! This idea would work very well at a venue with scenic views surrounding.
Projection mapping technology allows you to give even the most mundane venues a gorgeous makeover. Flat surfaces are ideal for projecting messages, images, and videos. The projections turn the venue into a beautiful billboard promoting your event and exciting guests.
3D projection mapping is another awe-inspiring option for organizers. This does require a solid budget and a knack for experimental events. 3D video mapping can be used to communicate a powerful story and brand experience. Watch the video above to see how designer Ralph Lauren implemented this technique. They stated they created “ultimate fusion of art, fashion & technology in a visual feast for the 5 senses. Watch as the London flagship at 1 New Bond Street disappears before your eyes and is then transformed into a series of objects”.
Incorporate Local Flair
Incorporating local flair was one of our top 2018 event trends. This grand entrance idea would be a great way to add value and theming to your event. Bringing local flair to your event would work at any destination event you are planning.
For example, if your event is in Hawaii you could hire local dancers to line the entry showcasing the islands local spirit and have leis to place on attendees for a warm welcome! If you do this, be sure that the greeters are authentic and true to the local flair. If you just have anyone dress up to look like a local it will not have the same genuine excitement and could be received very poorly.
Add an element of surprise with a kabuki drop! The curtain will provide a hint of mystery and excitement. Timing a kabuki drop at the right time to reveal the main event is a fantastic way to fire up your crowd!
As we have previously stated our article 3 Elements of Surprise to Reveal To Create A Memorable Event “The anatomy of the Kabuki Drop is perfect for concealing or revealing performers, speakers, or otherwise your main attraction by use of a lightweight fabric that is dropped from the roofing structure.”
A cost-effective and beautiful grand entrance idea that will surely set the tone for your event. We love this idea for smaller intimate gatherings. Luminary paths work exceptionally well for holiday events as well!
Make it Part of the Show
This is one of our favorite grand entrance ideas. Why not take your event to the next level by turning the entrance into a show? Consider adding dancers, circus acts, or musicians to your entry to add an element of excitement upon arrival.
A maze allows guests to be fully submerged into entering your event. It’s something so unique and unexpected that it will make attendees really focus on navigating into the event and forget their everyday worries while doing so. When creating a maze entrance, make the maze simple. You do not want it to be like a corn maze for Halloween or even worse the one from The Shining! You want your guests to be able to get in easily but have fun along the way
Nix the Red Carpet and Go Themed
Red Carpets have been around forever, and while they are a classic I think you can do better. Step away from a boring and expected red carpet to really impress your guests. Why be ordinary at a premiere when you can do so much more?
Take the theme of your event and deck out the entrance accordingly. This will immediately set the tone and immerse guests in a new and exciting way. A great example of this is the Ghostbusters world premiere at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre in July of 2016. The typical red carpet was turned black with images of slime and a large than life stay puft. At the premiere was the Ghostbusters car and a ton of Ghostbusters!! The Ghostbusters performed dances and got the crowd going. This created for a fun experiential event that was guaranteed to go viral before the actual event even started! Talk about an entrance experience! See the video above !
As fabulous as your event entrance may be, a lack of human presence can leave something to be desired in the minds of your guests.
By deploying a few staff members to warmly greet your guests at the entrance, you can put your guests in their comfort zone, so that you can effectively capitalize on their fascination with your event entrance and make a long-lasting impression.
As we mentioned earlier. Red carpets are nice, but they are overdone and expected. Even high school proms have red carpets, and I know you can do better than the basics! While I’m not suggesting to completely nix the classic if you decide to go the more traditional route and roll one out we suggest you add more elements to the mix.
Hire event photographers to act as paparazzi during arrivals to truly give your guests a celebrity experience. As guests are stepping onto the red carpet have your photographers snap away, let the guests experience the rush of what it truly feels like to be on a red carpet. Bonus! You can also have these images available to download as souvenirs from the night!
Password for Entrance
Safe House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin gives inspiration for this next idea. The spy-themed speakeasy has surprises to wow it’s guests throughout their dining experience. Some of the experiences could easily be applied to an event.
When you enter the Safe House you are brought into a small you, to gain entrance you have to tell the spy a secret password to get in! You get three guesses before you have to perform a trick to get in. By having guests guess a password they will feel like they are part of a game and instantly be put into a fun mood! The key to a great entrance is allowing your guests to change their mindset from everyday life and into a mindset ready to have fun. This definitely would do the trick!
We all know about after parties but have you considered having a party before the event? At the entrance, you could provide a pre-party complete with a DJ or band, bar and more. This has been done at a lot of large-scale awards shows like the MTV VMA’s with mega acts performing called the “Pre Show”, but this idea could also be done on a much smaller scale. Even for a gala, you could hire a local quartet to perform and have a bartender on hand to have a pre-party before the main event!
More than ever before your event needs to be share-worthy. If your guests share your event online it can generate FREE buzz, who doesn’t want that? However, it’s not as easy as it seems and finding the right way to encourage guests to share the event on social channels can be daunting. This can create a lot of stress on planners to create the perfect Pinterest event. To make things easier why not create a photo opp at the entrance that is sure to have guests stopping to Instagram away.
The ideas are endless from floral walls, to step and repeats, bring in characters from your event, and much more. Always be sure your logo is somewhere prominent and visibly for shares and there is a clear event hashtag posted nearby to encourage people to share! Not only is this a fun way for the guests to memorialize the event, but it’s also a great way to spread event or brand awareness through various social channels organically.
Funko created giant Pops! For Funko Fundays allowing attendees to pose inside the box with their most beloved characters.
As event planners, we are constantly trying to figure out ways to engage our audience. What if you could have participation and engagement high before your guests even arrived? This grand entrance idea will do just that! Send your guests on a scavenger hunt on the way to the main event. This would work particularly well if the guests did not have the exact location beforehand or needed a certain item to enter. You could use your event app to push out the first clue or starting point and have help along the way to assist the guests! Your guests will feel a sense of accomplishment upon finding the venue and are likely to be highly engaged during the hunt itself!
Ski Lift or Gondola
If you are lucky enough to have your event in the mountains at a ski resort or mountain top have you considered transporting guests on a ski lift or gondola? Not only are the breathtaking views going to immediately give your event a wow factor, but logistically it may be a lot safer and faster to get guests up to the event! Some mountaintop locations parking is sparse at best! This will this alleviate the stress of getting to the location and give your guests amazing views as they climb!
What if your guests could literally slide into your event? It’s been done at brewery tours and as an exit from haunted houses but using it as your events grand entrance is unpredictable. By having your guests slide into your event you are creating a sense of playfulness that will no doubt be remembered for years to come.
If you are having a winter themed event this is the grand entrance idea for you! We all wish it would snow (lightly at least) at our winter-themed events, but often mother nature won’t allow that! Don’t give up on your dream just yet there is a way!! Fake snow! If you have ever been to Disneyland or Disney World during the holidays, you are familiar with this concept! Every night on Mainstreet snow showers occur! By using evaporative fake snow machines you can create a sense of magic and whimsy that would be a delight to all of your guests and surely put them in the holiday spirit!
Storytelling LCD Tunnels
Setting up a long entrance way provides organizers the opportunity to communicate an elaborate brand story and build anticipation to a fever pitch.
Tunnels lined with LCD screens and projectors synced to display brand messages along with an array of cool effects can capture the imagination of all who walk through it. They help give the guests a bigger perspective on the nature of the event.
VIP Check-In Tent
If you have VIPs attending your event ensure they feel special from the minute they arrive. A VIP check-in tent can be a great way to start an event and give the right impression. The tent can be set up like a lounge with drinks, seating and exclusive offers such as a VIP photobooth, an exclusive speaker or performance, and specialty cocktails offered that can be found nowhere else at the event. By creating a VIP tent it gives guests a feeling of exclusivity. This is a great grand entrance idea if you are tailoring to the VIP crowd.
Have a watercraft take your guests to your event! This is a unique experience that works well with a variety of themes. You could have guests arrive at a docking location and have them taxied over to the main event creating an impressive first impression.
Zorbing Ball Roll
Zorbing balls are all the rage right now. Jump on this trend and use them for your big event entrance! While we have all seen zorbing-balls it would be a new experience using one as transportation into the main event! Use zorbing balls as a way to add a bit of fun to any event!
Bonus Entrance Planning Tips
Don’t Forget to Direct Your Audience
More appropriately referred to as “pre-entrance prep” by planners, it involves the use of clear, crisp-font signs in easily accessible locations to guide your audience to the grand entranof your event, ensuring that your guests walk into the event without any confusion weighing down their attention so that they can fully absorb and appreciate the visual spectacle before them.
Whichever event grand entrance ideas you choose, make sure you choose one that is intentional. Do not just use the latest trend because it’s a trend. Always make sure that your grand entrance fits the bill for your event. Remember why you are having your event and the goals, and use your grand entrance to aide those reasons.
Think Outside the Box
While some of the ideas we have showcased are fairly standard in the industry; swag bags and red carpets to name a few. Don’t limit yourself to the standard. If you really want your event grand entrance to stand out you need to think outside the box. Instead of relying solely on safe bets or what other planners you know have done look for inspiration! Where do you even begin? When I am looking for inspiration for events I think of places I have been or unique experiences that left a memorable impact. Something I thought was so cool I needed to tell others about. That is the type of inspiration you want! Think about other events, concerts, and places you have been to where you really felt amazed by your experience. Start there!
Now For Our Grand Exit!
A great event entrance has the capacity to mesmerize, electrify, captivate, and/or amuse your audience. Remember, the first impact on your audience’s psyche is made by the visual power of the event entrance that awaits them, and not by the people standing there to receive them. These grand entrance ideas demand attention. They help attendees remove themselves from the distractions of
The event entrance is where the journey of your audience begins, and its visual impact can subconsciously evoke a strong emotional response that can linger for the rest of the event and influence their decisions.
Whether it’s a gaming convention or a glamorous charity event a grand entrance can engage your attendees from the get-go.
We want to hear from you, what is your favorite grand entrance idea? Let us know in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This was originally published in May 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.