Inside IBA’s Award-Winning Gala

Author: Lane Nieset       

International Bar Association

A dancer wearing an LED-light-infused crinoline greets guests of the IBA 2018 opening party at the historical Villa Aldobrandini in the hills overlooking Rome.

Each year, the International Bar Association (IBA) hosts a Welcome Party to celebrate the start of its conference. The dinner serves as the ultimate icebreaker — a way to network and meet international attendees in a partylike atmosphere. The challenge for planners is to create a soirée for 4,000 people that is not only memorable but is an inspiring start to a week of intense sessions. Last year, IBA managed to stage an event that succeeded on both levels, and even received an award in the process.

The IBA welcome dinner — last fall just outside of Rome — won first prize in the gala category at the 10th Global Eventex Awards.

To achieve the “wow factor,” IBA2018 brought together elements of Italy’s art, history, and culture in a picturesque setting — the baroque Villa Aldobrandini in Frascati, which still is inhabited by the family and, according to event organizer AIM Group International, is rarely open to events. The venue overlooking Frascati brought to life scenes from 17th century Italian courts, and dinner guests could roam the villa’s rooms and famous nymphaeum, or fairy garden. Dancers in three-metre-tall, LED light-infused crinolines greeted guests in the front terrace while a jazz band played. Local touches included a welcome from the mayor of Frascati and Frascati wine sourced from surrounding DOCG producers.

The décor was whimsical, with 15,000 fresh wheat stalks and flowers suspended from the ceiling. Floral-costumed dancers performed pieces dubbed “Spring Awakening” and “Summer Tarantella,” a nod to the four seasons and tribute to the sculptures throughout the villa including by Italian master Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. In a separate room, meanwhile, “Autumn Leaves” and “Winter Reflections” were performed by dancers inside columns of leaves and snowflakes.

Continuing with the elegant theme, guests had the chance to watch a show titled “Il Fin, la Meraviglia,” based on the 16th century performance staged for the wedding of Ferdinando de’ Medici — only this version was modernized with aerial dancers, acrobats, pyrotechnics, and video projection, which displayed a backdrop of mythological figures. The dinner itself —which took place on the terrace overlooking the valley and with a view of the dome of St. Peter’s — was just as dramatic, with three firework displays accompanied by giant balloons and flying acrobats. Proof of the success: hundreds of engagements on Twitter in real time using hashtag #IBARome.

“We provided an opportunity to experience Rome and Italian culture in an astonishingly original way,” Aim Group said, “and provided a unique experience even for those who have been to the city several times.”

More IBA2018 Photos

International Bar Association

A performer interprets "Autumn Leaves" at the opening dinner of the IBA annual conference 2018. Live performances were created to mark the four seasons.

International Bar Association

During dinner, IBA2018 guests watch giant balloons and flying acrobats before three fireworks displays begin.

International Bar Association

Dancers interpret "Spring Awakening" under a suspended ceiling of 15,000 fresh flowers at the opening dinner of IBA2018.

International Bar Association

Guests watch a multisensory show called “Il Fin, la Meraviglia" at the nymphaeum. The show featured aerial dancers, acrobats, pyrotechnics, and video projections of mythological figures.

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