You undoubtedly know the hit TV show Friends, the show that spawned endless catchphrases, infamous scenes and at least three scene stealing hairstyles. It’s iconic, and if you’re thinking of revisiting it, it still holds up today. Did you also know that there’s also a mini festival dedicated to all things Friends? 2018 is the second year Comedy Central have brought their Friends Fest to the UK promising to be bigger and better than 2017 with the addition of Ross Geller’s apartment set. I didn’t get to visit Friends fest last year as I wasn’t in the UK but this year, when the invite dropped, I hit up the Ross to my Monica and we dusted off our high school dance routine just in case. Get ready for an awesome image heavy post….
We arrived at Friends Fest on one of the hottest evenings of the year which was perfect as some of the photo opps are outdoors and look way better against a cloudless blue sky, it’s staged in a field in a series of marquees and offers the chance to recreate some of the most iconic scenes from the TV show, and the chance to pose for pictures wearing clothes from some of the most memorable scenes, including THOSE wedding dresses.
With the sun still beating down, we headed inside to recreate the titles followed swiftly by the infamous PIVOT! scene – could we BE any more excited?!
Just around the corner is central Perk, a full scale set built to replicate the coffee house including the famous window decals which appear in every single one of the 236 episodes of Friends. One half is a working coffee shop where you can order food and drink, the other side is spookily accurate. As you face the set, it’s presented from the same perspective as the TV show was shot, looking on to the orange sofa with the performance area (Smelly Cat anyone?) to the right, and the counter to the left. As far as set builds go, this is impressive, even the cups are a match.
As part of Friends Fest there are set tours facilitated by your very own tour guide, as you wait for the tour to begin, you get the chance to view some of the actual, original props and set pieces from the TV show. They’re tucked away inside glass boxes and have designated handlers because yes Voyeurs, they’re worth THAT much. A box of soap powder from the set is valued at $4k and Phoebe’s guitar is valued at $19k but standing proudly in the corner is Gladys, the “artwork” made by Phoebe and it’s valued at a cool $16k.
When you enter the set tour for the first time, as a fan of the show and someone who’s watched all 236 episodes over ten series, several times, it’s pretty overwhelming. These guys work to a two day build to ensure these sets are an exact replica of what you see on screen and the attention to detail is impeccable. The scale is perfect, the placement is on point and you feel like you’re part of something really special when you take that first step into Joey & Chandler’s apartment. The entertainment unit locked with an ice hockey stick, the canoe and those famous recliners, it’s all there and you’re encouraged to get amongst it.
Next on the tour is the famous hallway and this too is an exact replica, staged in between Monica’s and Joey & Chandler’s apartments exactly as the TV set was built.
If you’re a fan of the show (and why wouldn’t you be??) the next steps you’ll take on the tour will be the most surreal. As you step into Monica’s apartment it takes a little while to drink it all in and if I’m completely honest I’m a little overcome with emotion. Everything, from the shade of purple on the wall to the frame on the door, it’s all perfect. You know that famous yellow frame on Monica’s door? That was originally a mirror which was to be used elsewhere until it was smashed on set by a member of the crew and put there as a joke.
Last stop on the tour is Ross’ apartment. This set is brand new for 2018 and it’s been meticulously planned for the past 12 months in order to get it looking perfect.
The festival is small, the clue is in the title, it’s a mini festival dedicated to celebrating all things Friends. There’s a pop up cinema playing the most iconic moments from the series on repeat and it’s bound to have you laughing along. There’s Friends themed food and a bar serving themed cocktails which is stocked with board games and there’s a gift shop too if you feel the need to stock up on Friends memorabilia that you won’t find anywhere else.
Personally we loved it. We had an awesome time there and loved recreating the titles, the weather was great which just enhanced the evening, plus, i got to hang out with my little brother too which is always a pleasure. If you’re a fan of the TV show Friends, and Friends Fest is being staged somewhere near you then it’s well worth a visit and you’ll get some awesome pictures out of it too. It’s spurred us on to start watching the show from the very beginning too so we’ll have new material for next year…