With consolidated viewing figures reaching over five million, Love Island is one of the biggest shows on television right now.
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It’s a programme which has managed to unite all corners of the nation; from silly school kids to snooty Oxford grads, gossiping grandmothers to bored boyfriends who have accidentally found themselves hooked, a wide range of individuals are now tuning in at 9pm on ITV2 to follow the lives and loves of good looking individuals sunning themselves in a Spanish villa.
With such a diverse viewership, it’s no surprise that people have realised there’s money to be made from an audience so willing to invest in the lives of our Islanders.
So step forward Love Island: The Experience, the “ultimate Love Island event” presented by the Luna Cinema.
For (a minimum of) £14.50, the event promises guest appearances from “departing Islanders”, selfies at the show’s Beach Hut, bedroom and fire pit, and (most importantly) Love Island-themed cocktails and food.
I felt like I couldn’t pass up on a chance to “immerse myself in the world’s most famous villa”, so armed with a patient friend and her iPhone X, I made the two-hour journey down to Brighton beach to have the ultimate Love Island Experience.
As we pulled up outside the venue, we saw our ‘departed Islanders’ of the evening, Arabella and Joe, step out of their cars. Watching Arabella twist her ankles as she teetered in her heels should have been a sign of how painful the evening was going to be.
The fairly healthy queue into the event was made up mostly of teenage girls (accompanied by the aforementioned grandmas and boyfriends) dressed for a night out, glammed up despite the chilly sea air and constant threat of rain. I scrunched up further in my denim jacket and wished I’d bothered to wear more make-up.
Their outfit choices made more sense once we were inside the small gated entrance. Fundamentally Love Island: The Experience is an influencer theme-park; instead of queueing for rides, people now choose to queue to snap a selfie in a replica of the Love Island bedroom. For an additional £10, fans could have ‘premium admission’, which allowed them the luxury of a queue jump.
Other photo ops included the marquee-come-villa garden complete with beanbags, the Beach Hut, and a backdrop with pictures of the Islanders you could grab a selfie with (the Ovie picture got an awful lot of action) to impress people on the ‘gram.
Instead of joining the queue, we decided there was only one thing left for us to do – drink. Brighton’s very own shakers and movers, The Mixology Group, had provided a Love Island twist on classic cocktails; I treated myself to an ‘It Is What It Is’ – a fresh take on a gin spritz, while my friend opted for The Factor 50, Love Island’s answer to a Mojito.
We tried to grab one of the few beanbags to sit on, but they were hot property amongst the selfie brigade – once someone left the pink and yellow seating sacks, three different groups of friends would dash across the astro turf to sit down.
Halfway into the evening Joe and Arabella took to the stage to discuss their time in the villa, with fans heading across the beach wrapped up in blankets (£10 from the bar) to see them explain to a Capital FM DJ who had been sliding into their DMs in the outside world, and who they were backing to win (Arabella wants Tommy and Molly-Mae to win, while Joe’s rooting for Anton and Belle, if you care).
Love Island: The Experience’s ultimate selling point is the outdoor cinema screen, and there is something novel about watching Love Island on the beach with your mates and a cocktail. But is it £14.50 worth of novel? No.
Ultimately, Love Island: The Experience is a little slice of the villa in Brighton, and if you’re a huge fan of the show, your head will be turned by what is on offer. But if you’re only a fairweather viewer who isn’t Insta ready at all opportunities? Best to pie it off.
Love Island continues weeknights and Sundays at 9pm on ITV2. Tickets for Love Island: The Experience are available here.