Alexandra Palace was built to celebrate achievement, as a place of discovery, to educate and entertain. Some 139 years later, the North London venue was given the opportunity to host an event which embodies these objectives more than any other.
For 17 days during London 2012, Alexandra Palace became the official destination of Holland Heineken House – the Dutch base where athletes, team members, visitors and guests of the National Olympic Committee of Holland could gather to join in the Olympic celebrations.
The venue welcomed around 6,000 daily visitors. They arrived in ‘Party Buses’ and turned the ‘People’s Palace’ into a sea of orange as they celebrated Holland’s medal haul, watched the Games on screens from grandstand seating, and partied the nights away to Dutch bands and celebrity appearances.
The House celebrated its 20th anniversary in London. In 1992, the National Olympic Committee of Holland approached Heineken for sponsorship and a partnership was formed that began with a small-scale offering in Barcelona. It has expanded every four years in the lead up to London 2012.
“This was the largest Heineken House to date. Due to its success, we now have major broadcasters from Holland forming part of the offer and five radio stations broadcast live from the venue over 24-hours,” says Freek de Wette, Manager for Events and Sponsorship, Global Commerce at Heineken International. “Alexandra Palace was a perfect choice because it’s all set up to host large-scale events. We visited many venues before making our decision. But with 75,00 visitors expected, we needed somewhere that had ample car parking and a venue that takes its sustainability seriously. It’s only 40 minutes to Stratford by public transport and we put on shuttle buses between the venue and Wood Green station so it worked incredibly well. ”
Holland Heineken House is designed to be a ‘home away from home’ for the Dutch. During the day, visitors could enjoy activities laid on by the sporting bodies and sponsors, or relax and watch the Olympic action and enjoy Dutch cuisine.
The evening entertainment began each night at 8pm with a House band taking requests from a telephone booth placed in the main hall. From 9pm, the main act of the night would appear on stage and then a DJ would play until 1am.
“If there were medal successes to celebrate, the coach would appear on stage followed by the athlete and the whole crowd would start singing,” says Freek de Wette. “Every night was a party with the crowds enjoying responsible drinking and a strict wristband system for anyone under age or driving. We had 900 Dutch staff members who transformed the venue into our own village complete with dentist, doctor and other amenities. It has been the friendliest Games here in London and the Dutch people have embraced it in the spirit that Holland Heineken House was designed for.”