Surviving stuffy formal dinners

Have a faculty dinner or birthday party around the corner? Here’s a look at some activity-based dinners that you can opt for.

Murder over dinner?
Someone at the table is a murderer. Clues lie in the details and maybe in the pudding. You and your dining companions must solve the mystery, preferably before dessert arrives. Among different companies that host mystery dinners is Dinerspel.com, which started in 2002. Their most popular game is Moordvlucht (Flight Murder) and involves recreating the experience of a Boeing aircraft. "For the meal, we usually work with the Boterhuis and De Waag in Delft, but people are welcome to fix their own restaurants or venue. Our package is flexible and people can pay us for the game and the venue directly for the food and drinks," said Peter Benes, the owner. A game takes 3 to 3.5 hours and costs €23.50 per person (pp) and a package about €48 pp.

Fact, fiction and competition
The lines between truth and fiction blur on the Mystery Tour by Rondleiding in Delft. The tour, which can be for 90 minutes (€17.50 pp) or two hours (€19.50pp). Groups are divided into smaller teams and while walking around, the guide narrates some facts and some rather believable lies. After the tour, the groups head to a cafe and over drinks, the teams compare who caught the most lies. The company also offers a dinner walk (€65 pp): a three-course meal, each course is at a different restaurant with a half hour tour in between. "Our regular tours are interactive as well and with the mystery tour there is always an option to include dinner. Faculties from the university have toured with us often and opt for various things," said Nanda Holtkamp, the owner.

Escape for your dinner
Want to freak yourself out before dinner? Try the Escape Challenge in Delft. You can opt between two experiences - a scary visit to the dentist and a getting trapped by circus freaks. "Our challenge is not only about solving clues to escape, but there are a narrative and sound effects and an ambience that makes the experience very real. In the Freak Show, the story is that you are trapped by circus freaks and unless you can solve the clues, you will have to stay with them and perform," said Gijs Geers, the owner. The circus experience is complete with a tent, caravan and a fortune teller. Fear comes at a cost though: €119-129 per hour. Geers adds that they get a lot of queries about dinner packages and are planning to introduce something, maybe even add a tour or a pub quiz.

History with a twist
Take a boat cruise around Delft, followed by a dinner at Moodz with Rondvaart Delft. "First we go to the restaurant and people get a goodie bag of snacks. Then guests head off on a cruise tracing Delft's history along the canals. Finally, we go and have a nice meal at the restaurant," said Gerrit Brands of their dinner cruise (€39.95 pp). At restaurant Stadsherberg De Mol, every day is a trip through the past, with the decor, the menu and even the staff dressed to recreate medieval Delft. To the flicker of candles and the music of minstrels, you can opt for a tavern experience or a twisted Dickensian game of 'hurling the baby' alongside an elaborate meal with dishes such as medieval bread in herbal sauce and witches brew (€42.50 pp). Restaurant Het Vermeertje offers a "walk through the 17th century", with a theatrical tour guided by people in costume who bring to life the times of the Dutch master (€39 pp). If you want to get fancy, you can have high tea at the Royal Delft Museum in real Delft blue crockery (€19.50 pp).