Treasure Hunts in London

Treasure Hunts in London logoThe most observant readers might have spotted a new addition to the site’s links page. This site was recently contacted by the proprietor of Treasure Hunts in London, whose treasure hunts sound exciting. There is also a blog with invitations to upcoming hunts that instantly leapt onto this site’s blogroll, with some events jumping straight onto this site’s events calendar.

Coming up as soon as 2pm this Wednesday, i.e. 30th July, Treasure Hunts in London are organising a Southwark Treasure Hunt, starting at (but not associated with!) Southwark Cathedral. By happy accident, this is the same starting-point as DASH 6 three months ago, but the event seems to offer a complementary sort of challenge to the London leg of the global hunt.

Quoting the organisers: “This is an outdoor Treasure Hunt with a literary theme, covering the area from Borough High Street to the Millennium Bridge. Unravel cryptic clues and photograph funny assignments while exploring this interesting and historic part of London. The meeting point (…) is the Refectory at Southwark Cathedral, near London Bridge, London SE1 9DA. You will need a smartphone/digital camera to complete the photo challenges. The hunt takes around 2 hours and will end at a nearby pub for a drink, a chance to announce the scores and award prizes.Tickets are £10 each and must be purchased in advance. Everyone gets a clue pack and pen. Prizes are awarded to winning team.

Sadly the news came just too late, but there was a counterpart hunt in Chingford on Saturday; this site hopes to feature more information about that hunt, and other past events to give you a flavour for the event, before much longer. Additional events are expected to be announced soon; looking much further ahead, there will be a Trick or Treat 2014 Halloween Treasure Hunt starting at the British Museum on the Saturday before Halloween, which will be October 25th.

The proprietor has a hard-earned and enviable academic record in the field of event management, plus a demonstrated flair for the dramatic, all of which points to the organisers knowing both the theory and practice of how to put on a show. Definitely one to watch and this site looks forward to bringing you more information about treasure hunts in London… and beyond!

Treasure Hunts coming up, especially on April 16th

Treasure map graphicTime to look at some treasure hunts coming up soon. There’s an unexpected running theme running through them.

  • Treasure Trail Quests are running their first event on Friday 15th April to Sunday 17th April; it’ll be in Stowmarket. Buy a book of clues for £20, either by choosing to receive a .pdf on Friday morning or a printed copy in person.

    Study the clues. Go online and research in advance. Visit the town with family, friends or get together a group of work mates then answer the puzzles. ((…)) It has been carefully crafted to be a family friendly fun challenge made up of a series of puzzles. There will be picture puzzles, word play and number play. ((…)) Entries must be received by 11.59hrs on the Sunday night. Entries can be made by email or by text or by using a submission form. Each book has a unique serial number. Only one entry per serial number. ((…)) The winner is the entry that is the first ALL correct entry drawn at random the next day, Monday at 13:00hrs. The prize is a cash award of £1000.

    The full T&C suggest that the prize rolls over if nobody gets everything 100% correct, presumably to the second hunt scheduled for St. Neots on May 13th to 15th. The same person is behind this as the Pop-Up Puzzle Room – so, while it’s by no means necessary, you might want to play his game or follow the brainteasers he posts to Facebook to get an idea of the house style. 

  • The Armchair Treasure Hunt Club are running a Spring club event in Shrewsbury on Saturday 16th April. The club has run an event every autumn for about twenty years; additional spring events are a recent revival of previous form. “Everyone is welcome to come along and compete, whether you are a member of the club or whether you just enjoy competing in treasure hunts. Gather for the hunt at 10am for an 11am start, and it’ll probably be about tea time when the treasure is unearthed. The £25 entry fee includes lunch as well as the hunt and its prizes.” The club’s web site has a page with more information and it just might be that there are a few pre-clues on the posters worth exploring there as well.
  • This site’s friends at Treasure Hunts in London have a couple of events coming up as well. Between 2pm and 5pm on Saturday 26th March, the Easter Treasure Hunt at the V&A Museum looks at “…art from north of the border. Working in teams you will be solving clues and puzzles, and answering questions about the art work. As this is an Easter hunt, expect a few Easter surprises along the way. As always we will end the hunt with a wee drink as we announce the results and award prizes to the winning team.” Tickets are £20 for a single player or £38 for a pair.
    Treasure Hunts in London are also organising a hunt called Rule, Britannia on, inevitably, Saturday 16th April. “The Queen’s 90th birthday takes place on 21st April 2016.To mark the occasion Treasure Hunts in London are organising a Royalty-themed Treasure Hunt. There will be themed clues to solve, puzzles, photo challenges and assignments. This hunt starts when the teams collect clue packs by the Queen Victoria Memorial, outside Buckingham Palace. It ends with a drink and prize giving at a pub near Kensington Palace.” Tickets must be pre-booked, a minimum number of teams (of 2 to 6 players) are required for the game to go ahead, and you must bring a smartphone to complete the photo challenges… and any additional tasks that might be sent out by text throughout the game. Tickets are £38 for a pair of players, £20 for a single player or £15 for a single player booking by the end of March, all including a drink at the end of the hunt.

If you know of other hunts, please send the details through. (That said, there was a Valentine’s themed hunt in early February that this site missed; the page has details of a few other interesting past hunts as well.)

The Armchair Treasure Hunt Club’s 2015 Club Meeting

Generic blue cartoon armchairThe 1979 book Masquerade established the genre of the Armchair Treasure Hunt: a treasure hunt where a document contains all the clues to solve a series of clues that (typically) points to a location, – in the grandest hunts, a physical item has been buried at that location. People still set such hunts – for instance, the final chapter of The Cloud Quest was published last month; rumour had it, a few years ago, that there were still dozens of books with prize competitions being published each year. While treasure hunts have longer histories still (any excuse to link to the story of the Treasure Hunt Riots!) Masquerade is still the most famous.

The genre still has many devotees, with the Armchair Treasure Hunt Club being a prominent virtual gathering-point for them. The site tracks open armchair treasure hunts, some open to the public, others intended for club members alone. The club also has an annual meeting, open to all and sundry rather than just to its membership. The invitation describes how the day will run. This site shan’t repeat it, for fear that even a simple transcription might somehow obliterate a pre-clue hidden within the invitation. Players will arrange themselves into six or so teams, investigate the Cathedral and more, share a buffet lunch in a pub and then solve a hunt in the afternoon. A full day’s play, including food, for £25 per player sounds like a good deal, and this is certainly the right company in which to enjoy the event.

The club also has an announcement from Steve Miller of Pyro Puzzles about his mechnical puzzle projects, as previously discussed. Steve recently exhibited his wares and ran a hunt at the Nine Worlds convention in London – making the event even cooler still!

Keeping clues in London

ClueKeeper logoThis site has previously previewed the hunts run by Treasure Hunts in London, though the stars have not yet aligned to permit a chance to play any of them. This is going to get rather easier from now on.

ClueKeeper has long been used not only to keep score and handle the administration for time-dependent puzzle hunts; it has also enabled people to play self-guided hunts, at your own convenience; a good way to learn about an area through the medium of play. However, these hunts have so far been only available in the United States – and only a dozen or so places there. Happily, this is no longer the case, as a recent update to ClueKeeper has enabled the pricing of hunts in currencies other than the greenback, and Treasure Hunts in London have launched Fairytale in the City, in which you can “Discover hidden heritage around the Spitalfields area of London“.

Start at Liverpool Street station and expect to cover perhaps a mile and a half over three hours or so. “Little Red Hen has weaved her way around London, from Liverpool Street to Brick Lane. As she travelled, she placed virtual eggs covering various items of heritage. The items hidden all have a Fairy Tale or nursery rhyme connection. Your task is to follow Little Red Hen’s route and uncover the fairy-tale and nursery rhyme connections as you hunt for virtual eggs.

This hunt is priced at US$14.99 per team, so just under £10 – cheap entertainment indeed for an afternoon’s fun for a team of up to five. There are several self-guided treasure hunt providers out there in the UK; perhaps it was just a matter of time before at least one of them started to find out what ClueKeeper might do. Fingers crossed that this is just the start and that London, and the rest of the UK, may soon see many more such hunts!

Coming soon to London: Mystery Squad

Mystery SquadHere’s another distinctive addition, a game called Mystery Squad that’s not quite like anything this site has seen before, but yet has enough in common with many other things that this site loves that it sounds both unusual and unusually exciting.

If you like murder mysteries, puzzles, escape rooms, treasure hunts, lateral thinking, or just want to stretch those little grey cells and try something unique and different, then the Mystery Squad has a mission for you.

Once your team of 4 – 6 people have booked a case, the Mystery Squad will contact you with a time and a place in central London, once there you will be given your instructions and a mystery to unravel. Will you be able to solve the riddles and stop the villains?

Become a detective and crack the case. The Mystery Squad is counting on you…

Mystery Squad is not a conventional exit game as such. For a start, there isn’t a fixed location; there are a number of pubs in central London which could be used to host the game. To a certain extent, it’s an exit game that comes to you! There isn’t a fixed room from which to escape, but your team act as detectives to resolve the mystery, against a time limit as challenging as any fixed room game has to offer.

The cases do have historical research at their core, though are developed into a fictional narrative, accompanied by authentic-feeling props and surrounded by appropriate puzzles that will link the clues together. In the first case, The Death of Shelby Waters, the story that you face runs like so:

The year is 1931. In the town of Fall River, Massachusetts, Professor Shelby Walters is brutally murdered in his own study. His last act is to post a cryptic letter to one of his former students, it seems that his murder is not as simple as it first appears.

Using only the Professor’s personal effects, books, research, police files, and some items from his study, can you solve this dreadful crime, and prevent those responsible from committing an even more terrible one?

The price is attractive, at a flat rate of £70 for a team of 4, 5 or 6 (or possibly fewer, but this is not recommended) and that first case offers you 90 minutes rather than just the usual hour to pick it apart and discover all there is to learn. Teams compete not on speed of escape but on score, based on accuracy of response. Cases can be booked from Monday 16th February and on.

This is unlikely to be a moderately-to-your-taste game; either you’ll love it more than other exit games because of its focus, leading to the ability to put unusually deep puzzles in, or less than other exit games if you miss the kinetic thrill of a custom-designed room. It might also be more playable than traditional exit games to some with accessibility concerns, particularly where mobility is concerned. Either way it’s a valuable addition to the world of exit games, particularly when you consider the potential for the game to offer later cases which might break other conventions to provide radically different experiences still – and, as much as the game might be staged in a variety of London locations, perhaps it might go on to break free of Zones 1 and 2 (and even spread its wings all around the nation!) some day.

Treasure Hunts coming up this Christmas

"Christmas Treasure Hunt"First off, congratulations to Can You Escape? of Edinburgh, opening for business today. Their pin on the map has been turned from red to yellow to celebrate their opening, plus hopefully the map is a sensible level of zoom by default once more.

This site’s friends at Treasure Hunts in London have some interesting-looking games coming up over December. First of all, their “12 Days of Christmas” treasure hunt will be played today, Friday 5th December, starting at the National Portrait Gallery; the hunt will be run twice, first between 1pm and 4pm and a late night version between 6pm and 9pm. The charge is £10/player and it’s suitable for teams of two to six.

After that, on Saturday 13th December, there will be a treasure hunt entitled Operation “Rebuild Santa’s Naughty or Nice List”. This one starts at the Piccadilly Institute; this is a licensed location so you must be 18+ to attend and bring ID. Again it’s suitable for teams of up to six, but it’s a longer event (2pm-7pm) and the the charge is £15/player, with the higher price including Christmas crackers and mince pies, and paying for the presence of seasonal characters. Naughty or nice; what do you think? This site concludes “naughty, naughty, very naughty”. Wa-ha-ha-ha.

Not enough for you? The Saturday after that, 20th December, sees a restaged hunt from November, starting at 10am, around the village of Chingford, just outside the North Circular in the north-east of London. Catch a train from Liverpool Street, for this one is £10/player.

One of this site’s loyal friends and true, Dean, also recently pointed to a hunt entitled The Enchanted Mirror, presented by HiddenCity and Time Out London.

Your challenge: in teams of up to four people, solve a trail of clues set by an evil queen, in search of a magical mirror. Stroll down cobbled streets, weave through galleries and pause for drinks in tucked-away taverns. Expect to find yourself seeking out hidden objects and presenting code words to people you meet along the way. Solve the clues and you’ll embark on a journey across the capital. Uncover the mirror, solve its final challenge, and your team will be rewarded.

This runs daily, with yesterday seeing the first performance and tickets available every day until 11th January, other than Christmas Day, plus or minus one, and New Year’s Day. The clues are aimed at adults, but supervised children are welcome. No local knowledge is required, but a love of fairy tales will help you get the most from the Snow White theme. Start at any point from 11:15am to 1pm at the Victoria and Albert Museum, then expect to spend 3-4 hours (including one break!) to cover three miles or so. Entry vouchers cost £40 and cover a team of up to four.

Happy hunting to all, and to all a good night!

Hunting for Hunts

Open pink treasure chestThere are a number of very intriguing-looking puzzle hunt competitions of various scales either in progress or coming up soon. Will you break any of the metaphorical treasure chests to be found?

The @MrHydeAndSeek account on Twitter has a series of picture-driven treasure hunt competitions, just for fun. You can get a sense of the game’s conventions by looking over past hunts; in an example of excellent practice, each previous hunt is explained, with full descriptions of the precise subtleties in each of the clues. The clue-writing seems very precise and as imaginative as you would hope.

This site has written about this year’s Pablo’s Armchair Treasure Hunt previously, but more information has very recently been made available; specifically, the poster has been released, with further pointers towards a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy theme. Plenty to start work on already: what looks like some braille, some binary, a DNA strand, several pictures and quite possibly some other encrypted information as well. The actual full body of the hunt is released on December 19th and you’ll have three and a half weeks to put your answer together.

If you’d like a hunt with a prize, and if you live in London, then perhaps Gold Hunt London might be for you. A specially-engraved gold bar currently valued at over £5,000 has been (or, perhaps, is about to be) hidden somewhere in London. Buy an e-book for £3.99 and maybe you will be the one to decode its clues and find the gold bar’s whereabouts. The book suggests that it may provide suggestions for interesting and little-known places to visit in London even if the competition doesn’t catch your eye. You can pre-order the e-book now; the game goes afoot on December 17th.

Arguably bigger still is the one event where the world’s puzzle hunters focus on the enigma of all enigmas for a single weekend. Teams of handfuls-to-hundreds (well, the biggest teams number more than a hundred) attack the 100-150-ish double-black-diamond-difficulty no-holds-barred puzzles of what will be the 35th annual MIT Mystery Hunt, and this year’s event is set to take place, as tradition dictates, on the weekend starting with the Friday before Martin Luther King day, so the 2015 hunt starts on January 16th. More about this to follow.

Further ahead, for your diary, one of this site’s 2014 highlights was playing in the London leg of the DASH puzzle hunt and writing alllll about it, both before and afterwards. The DASH Facebook page has confirmed that 2015’s date will be May 30th, so there are precisely 26 weeks to go. No cities have yet been announced, but rest assured if a city anywhere in the UK is running a leg then this site will announce it at such great volume that you won’t need to visit the site in order to hear the DASH alarm.

Finally, there will be some fiddling with this site’s servers reasonably imminently. It’s possible that this might cause ghosts of articles half-written in May and June to make a reappearance. Fingers crossed for no poltergeists…

Some more games coming up in London

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After yesterday’s post about the blurring of the line between exit games and interactive theatre, here are details of some more games and events that are pretty identifiably on the interactive theatre side of the line. They look to have enough to them to be likely to be of interest to readers – at least, to readers in London.

iAm is a show organised by the Bush theatre but performed daily at the Kensal House community rooms until Saturday 25th October. Tuesday and Wednesday have 1:30pm matinee shows, Thursday to Saturday 7:30pm shows and Sunday and Monday are days off.

Welcome to an intimate focus group – only a select few have been allowed in. The product is cutting edge: it could be the next big thing. But as the guinea pigs sign up eagerly to secrecy, someone throws a spanner in the works. The company’s latest recruit has ethical concerns. Surely the iAms have certain rights…

Technology is about to take on a life of its own.

iAm is a fast-paced, interactive show about our attachment to technology. It gives audiences the chance to experiment and compete. Mixing immersive theatre, interactive games and a futuristic scenario, the play addresses big subjects like morality and community in a digital age.

The SPID theatre company‘s web site describes the show by saying “iAm explores our attachment to technology by giving audiences the chance to experiment and compete. Mixing immersive theatre, interactive games and a futuristic scenario, the play addresses big subjects like morality and community in a digital age.” That’s easily playable enough for this site.

This site normally skews away from running games – obstacle races are right out – but there are a couple of games of Citydash coming up, which has a bit of thought and brain to it.

Run for checkpoints, replan on the fly as the map changes, and duck for cover as our patrolling guards close in. Or take it more strategically, rack your brains to solve our cryptic clues, and keep your eyes open for bonus points.

However you play, you can watch the live scoreboard for updates and battle it out with nearby teams. With a huge range of strategies, approaches, and levels, you can take this as casually or competitively as you want.

This site likes cryptic clues, this site likes strategy and this site likes that there is a charity benefit event, in aid of the Street Child charity, in Central London on the afternoon of Saturday 15th November. Before then, there’s a Hallowe’en version at 7pm on Friday 31st October, wherein all the guards are replaced by things that go bump in the night. Bear in mind that the latter game is taking place after dark in Shoreditch, so there’ll be a lot of ’em about.

If these are all a little too near-topic for you, Puzzle Hunt Calendar points to a much more orthodox treasure hunt happening from 2pm to 5pm this Saturday, 11th October, organised by Treasure Hunts in London. This weekend’s game takes place at the Tate Britain art gallery, though is not organised by them. “This one involves searching for animals. There is a mixture of straight and cryptic clues to solve as you take your time exploring the gallery. It’s not a race, so you have time to look at the paintings and possibly stop for a coffee.” £10 per player, teams of up to five, and a debriefing at a pub afterwards.

Speaking of pubs, next week is Puzzled Pint week as well!

“City Hunt” treasure hunt in Southwark this week

"City Hunt" logoNot much advance notice of this one, mostly because this site only found out about it very recently, but City Hunt is “a mass-participation treasure hunt that challenges you to explore the rich culture of the Blackfriars area of Southwark in London“. The event started yesterday and runs until Sunday 21st September. ((Edited to add: Thanks very much to Polly Robbins for getting in touch with some clarifications; this article has been updated accordingly.))

Produced by arts organisation 4749 Tanner Street, the event is free to participate in and available to both solo solvers and teams. There are either 30 or 40 (reports vary)quirky secrets hidden in the streets between Blackfriars Bridge and St George’s Circus“. The game can be played either on the web site or with the aid of a printed map distributed by a volunteer.

Tap a marker on the Google Map to reveal the clue.

Go to the location and solve the clue. You’ll need to have a good look around. The answers will be hidden in text, information boards, plaques, shop signs, dates above doors etc.
Select your answer from the multiple choice options.

You’ll be shown your score, and you’ll also be given some interesting information about the clue.

Go back to the map to chose the next clue to answer.

It’s not clear whether there’s any aspect of necessary puzzle-solving in order to find the answers, or whether simple observation is all that’s required. It’s also not clear whether the answers will be available 24/7 or whether you might have to visit during certain hours for reasons of natural light, shop openings and so on. ((Edited to add: There has been clarification provided that if you’re playing by phone on the web site, the hunt should be playable at any time until Sunday night.))

A number of local prizes are on offer, and “…score will be calculated by taking the average of your speed and your correct answers – so race and get as many as you can, or go slowly and solve more.” A hustler might want to go around slowly in order to learn the correct answers, then sign up as a single player, start the clock and Mo Farah it around the course to record an amazing average speed.

This site apologises for the extent to which the live events it reports upon has a very strong London focus. It’s most inconvenient, especially for people who are shift workers 250 miles away. However, that’s where the action is – at least, for now – and the best way to deal with it would be to make interesting things happen all over the rest of the country. It’s also amusing that this is only extremely slightly further west than many of the locations used in the DASH and Girls and Boys, Come Out to Play puzzle hunts that have previously been discussed.

So, trying something a little different, is there anybody out there who might like to take part in a team for this hunt on Thursday, Friday or Saturday this week? This would be at a very gentle pace, more interested in a pleasant day out than trying for the prizes. It could be a fun way to meet up with site readers!