While I haven't really been able to see much of Barcelona during this trip since the conference is tucked in some ulu corner of the city, we did go out to an amazing venue this evening for the conference host dinner. As it was being sponsored by Barcelona Turisme and all the various federal/state/provincial tourism entities, they were pulling out all stops to impress the British travel trade. The dinner, which was for approximately 1000 pax, was held at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. This means 100 banquet tables, no mean feat by itself in trying to find a venue that can accommodate this many tables. I was trying to think where in Singapore we could do something similar other than boring ole Suntec or Expo. This wasn't a run of the mill hotel function room or convention space, it was a historical building, working museum, that overlooked a large fountain piazza (something like Washington? or Vatican), which was superbly grand in the night with the lighting. Inside, other than the galleries, there was this huge cavernous space that had a high domed ceiling which could accommodate 100 tables (with room to spare) and tiered arena seating. According to wiki, it was built in 1929 for the World Fair, but it definitely looks older than that.
Other than the amazing space and architecture, the night ended spectacularly (at midnight, after dinner was served at 10pm in timely Spanish fashion) with a Cirque du Soleil-esque performance. 5 performers rappeled down slowly from the domed ceiling, where trusses and structures had been rigged (in a historical building no less) and entertained the captivated audience with different acrobatics that involved swinging, twirling, somersaulting, all while suspended in the air. One of the performers then twisted and twirled without a harness around a hoop and was followed by other feats performed on bungy cords. It was really quite awesome. Much better than the human towers that were the first part of the entertainment. I really wonder how long it took to rig up all those structures, I'd say the floor-to-ceiling height was probably about 4-5 stories. In Singapore, it would be a nightmare getting clearances and all that I bet. It does help that the museum is run by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Now if only we had the same sort of spaces to play with in Singapore.