FriendsFest 2018 in Glasgow

I was heading to Glasgow on a quick work trip when I first heard about this. What is it? It’s a touring event that travels around the world selling tickets to see the Friends sets. Yes, Friends, the TV show. The TV showed that aired from 1994 to 2004, set in New York City. The show that made household names of Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox, Super-couple Ross and Rachel, etc. And the TV show responsible for iconic phrases like, “how you doin’?” and “we were on a break”.

I can’t believe this even exists! Of course I watched Friends every week. And I still watch the reruns when nothing else is on. It’s still a great a show. But are people really still that interested 14 years after the show ended? The answer is YES. The place was busy when I arrived with sold out dates on the weekends. Crazy. So here’s the skinny!

I took an Uber over to Victoria Park in Glasgow. This was set up just outside the city center in a park. It’s just a fenced off area and inside there are tents containing the sets from Friends. This event goes on rain or shine so hope for good weather. You also have to buy your tickets online. There are no ticket sales at the gate. They did have an iPad you could use to go online and purchase tickets. Price? 26.50 pounds. Which didn’t seem bad until I converted that number to US dollars, $37.50. Ouch. They say the average time at the event is 2-2 1/2 hours. But it really depends how long the lines are. We saw everything in one hour. You buy a general admission time and then pick a tour time for the apartment sets.

The tents are set up in stations. The outside perimeter tents had mini sets which you waited in line for and got your photo taken by one of the workers. I actually preferred this method compared to the main middle tent with the apartment sets. You were able to get a nice photo with no one else in it. In the main tent, the whole group has 5 minutes on the set so everyone is taking pictures at the same time and there are tons of people in all your photos.

In Glasgow, the first tent immediately to the right was a tent which included wedding outfits and next to it was the wedding chapel fascade from the Ross and Rachel wedding in Vegas. You slipped into a dress and then take your photo in front of the chapel.

Next was a giant gold frame that looked like the one at Rachel and Monica’s apartment. The tent next to that had props so you could take your photo inside the frame. They had props such as blackboard quotes from the show, the turkey head and sunglasses Monica wore when Chandler said he loved her, umbrellas, a cheerleader costume and a few more items.

Next to that was Phoebe’s cab. Followed by the Pivot set. Yes, there’s a staircase with Ross’ s white couch wedged in. You can get on either end of the sofa for the photo. The worker even encouraged us to do a video recreating the scene. We were hysterical.

Then came the introduction set. The couch set up in front of a faux fountain and different colored umbrellas for props. The worker let your group get in two different poses for the photos. I noticed the more friends you had, the better the photo looked. But I managed to get a good one with my friend.

Finally the last tent was Central Perk. The outside of the cafe and then you walked inside where they had the main couch with coffee cup props, Phoebe’s guitar and microphone stage and the counter area where Gunther worked. It was fun. We did a photo on the couch, serving coffee, and playing guitar. The worker even encouraged us to sing Smelly Cat and videotape it. Another hysterical moment.

The remainder of the perimeter tents including various food and drink stands and a giant movie screen playing Friends episodes. Oh and did I mention that the Friends theme song plays on the loudspeakers the entire time. The last tent at the exit is of course the shop where you can find a variety of T-shirt’s , coffee mugs, dvds, umbrellas, magnets, etc.

So what’s the timed part of your entry ticket? That’s the giant tent in the middle. You wait in your group at your assigned time. When they call your group, everyone enters the tent as a group. You are greeted by a worker who explains the rules and watch a quick clip about Friends. Along the side are enclosed glass cases of some famous Friends memorabilia.

You then proceed to the first set, Joey and Chandler’s apartment. These sets are exact recreations with tons of props you can take your photo with. You had to ask everyone around to take your photo as everyone is trying to do the same thing. There was about 50 people in my group so it was annoying having everyone in your photo. I wish they had set up this part the same as the outer tents so you could get your photo alone. But we got a photo at the foosball table, the couch, the rowboat and the kitchen counter.

Next is the hallway between Monica’s and Joey’s, followed by Rachel and Monica’s apartment. The entire set from the purple door with gold frame, to the kitchen and big picture window that looks at Ugly Naked Guys apartment. We got photos at the front door, holding up Rachel’s trifle in the kitchen, sitting at the kitchen table and on the sofa and a shot with binoculars looking out window. At the end of the 5 minutes, they clear the room to allow a photo of each set without people.

The final set was Ross’s apartment. This was my least favorite. I don’t think his set was as identifiable as the other two. But we did a photo on the couch and a photo hiding behind the curtain.

The best way to get photos was to either rush into the room past the group before the room filled or wait until the very end when they emptied room and you snapped a quick solo photo. But the best way is to go when no one else is there. If the tickets are sold out, it’s super busy. We picked the time slot just after the first sold out slot. Meaning that it was sold out from 12pm to 4pm. We had 4:20 pm. When we arrived, the lines at each tent had maybe 20 people in line. By the time we left, we walked straight into each tent. The same for the main tent. There was about 50 people in our time slot group. When we left, the groups had maybe 7 people in them. I wish I had known to go later.

Overall, it was a fun hour. I don’t regret spending the almost $40. It was different and fun and an eye opening experience! If you loved Friends, catch this on tour. And stay tuned for a review of the rest of my 24 hour layover in Glasgow.

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