It’s pitch-black in the forest of the Prater. Only your lantern lights your way. In the distance you spot a flame. Is this where your next challenge is waiting for you? The next demon you must face? Then you hear them. The bells. They’re coming closer. The demons are coming to get you. Run!
Just before Christmas, the TEDxVienna team went on a Nesterval adventure, which was created by Herr Finland. He and his team offer urban adventures, where they send people in teams of six on treasure hunts. The adventure TEDxVienna participated in was set against the backdrop of a winter fairy-tale. According to Austrian folklore, Perchten and other demons roam the streets during the Raunächte, which start on December 21st with the winter solstice and end when dawn breaks on January 6th. These demons also hunted us with their cowbells, while we had to solve challenges.
Urban adventures like this are a unique form of experiencing a performance, which requires, depending on the adventure, a director, a multitude of actors, musicians and people to create costumes and props. It’s also an immersive experience, where we were able to interact, almost like in a real-life video game.
These experiences as envisioned by Herr Finland, the creator of Nesterval, also serve another purpose, other than being the protagonist in an adventure-packed fairy-tale. In his TEDxVienna talk he emphasizes the urban aspect. His goal is to allow people to explore new corners of Vienna or rediscover places one might have passed a hundred times but never took the time to look at in detail. Ultimately, the idea of the urban adventure also boils down to allowing your inner child to come out and play and to simply have fun.
We also learned new things about the Raunächte and customs surrounding them, while exploring the forest in the Prater in a manner a simple walk would have never allowed us to do. However, depending on the adventure you choose to go on, you have to be prepared to suspend your sense of disbelief and to run. Therefore, dress appropriately for the weather and running.
We very much enjoyed the afternoon, especially the team, who won the challenge. For me, one of the best parts was how the adventure was concluded with all the characters gathering and the narrator completing the story based on which we had set out on our adventure, reminding us of how we actively changed the story through our participation.
If you are interested in learning more about how Nesterval was developed, listen to Herr Finland’s TEDxVienna talk. He describes the challenges of encouraging people to play and which locations inspired him to create his adventures.
Header image and pictures by Alexandra Thompson Photography for Nesterval