Young women are all in on real-life fantasy events

Immersive events are charging top dollar, largely thanks to TikTok’s BookTok.

When you’re a kid, you escape into books. When you have money, you apparently pay to attend real-life immersive experiences based on books.

Five young women dressed as fantasy characters surrounded by books.

Per CNN, the last two years have seen several companies deliver nights in another realm to millennial and Gen Z audiences who love fantasy and romance novels, using TikTok’s BookTok to sell tickets ranging from $60 to up into the thousands.

  • Texas-based Eudantria Events sold all 420 tickets to its first fantasy-themed ball in 2022, priced at $175 each.
  • UK company Hushfable sold 1k+ tickets to its first event, inspired by Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series, for $230-$320 each.

What’s the appeal?

It’s a chance to dress up, meet fellow fans, and maybe even interact with characters or follow fun storylines.

After spending all week in your sweats working from home or commuting to a job where it’s inappropriate to wear a ball gown, why not trade banal conversation for mystery and intrigue?

Plus, Maja Djikic, a psychology professor who researches adult development, told CNN that these role-playing opportunities can offer important emotional and mental health benefits.

Is this a new thing?

Nah, there have long been Renaissance fairs, murder mystery dinners, live-action role-playing games, and immersive theater performances like Sleep No More. Pre-pandemic, it seemed like every company was scrambling to market an “immersive event.”

What’s interesting is BookTok’s role, and that women make up the bulk of attendees, especially considering genres like fantasy have a long history of being male-dominated.

But as it’s crossed over into the mainstream, thanks to media like “Stranger Things,” “Critical Role,” and “Baldur’s Gate 3,” demand has increased among a wider audience.

And when paired with romance, it’s clearly a winning formula — Maas has sold 38m+ copies of her books worldwide.

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