Special Events magazine honored the best work in special events last night by naming the winners of its annual Gala Awards competition. The event was the grand finale of The Special Event 2014, which ran Jan. 7-10 in Nashville, Tenn.

Veteran event producer Cheryl Fish won the Gala Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of her outstanding event work for more than 30 years.

Andrea Michaels was given a special Gala Award for her contributions to professionalism in the industry.

See all the Gala Nominees here.

The winners:

BEST FAIR/FESTIVAL

Donnelly and Associates, Vancouver, British Columbia, and the City of Surrey, British Columbia

"Surrey Fusion Festival"

One of Canada's largest multicultural celebrations, the two-day Surrey Fusion Festival featured more than 75 recording artists and performers from all over the world on four stages, along with 38 cultural pavilions enjoyed by more than 100,000 visitors. Following the parade of flags ceremony, attendees enjoyed an interactive farm area, a straw maze and a "learn to dance" stage.

BEST INVITATION

Raymond Ramsay and Associates, Orlando, Fla., and Jennifer Goldberg, Southlake, Texas

"Jayden's Bat Mitzvah Invitation"

To honor a girl in love with fashion, the event team created the bat mitzvah invitation "Total Fashion": a full-color glossy magazine of more than 160 pages featuring the honoree on the cover. Throughout the issue, the "magazine" offered details of the weekend’s events, fashion articles, photo layouts, important mitzvah information, VIP fashion show tickets, and a response card.

BEST DINING TABLE DESIGN

Emerald City Designs, Farmington Hills, Mich.

"A Modern Union"

In order to "reflect" who they are as individuals and as a couple, two grooms decided upon using two long, rectangular dining tables with mirror tops. The cool, modern look was completed with Manzanita branches painted glossy black, which were joined at the ends and wrapped with crystal pendant drops to symbolize the men's union.

BEST OFF-PREMISE CATERED EVENT

Someone's in the Kitchen, Tarzana, Calif.

"Moulin Rouge at the Milton"

In order to induce guests to contribute to a worthy cause, the caterer charmed them with a party with a sexy French vibe. The "Moulin Rouge" featured long cabaret tables designed to resemble can-can dancers' skirts, napkins clasped with garters, and a French menu featuring kir royale cocktails, French onion soup, tournedos Rossini and chocolate Eiffel Towers.

BEST CATERED EVENT PRODUCED BY A HOTEL BANQUET DEPARTMENT

Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth, Montreal

"The Daffodil Ball: The Great Gatsby"
Some 700 guests enjoyed this annual event in a festive setting that evoked the Roaring Twenties world of wealthy Jay Gatsby. Classic period dishes included oysters Rockefeller, lobster Newburg and baked Alaska, reinvented with a modern twist.

BEST FUNDRAISING EVENT

Hala Events and Communications, Toronto

"The Book Lover's Ball"

The only black-tie fundraiser in Toronto, the eighth annual Book Lover's Ball supported the public library foundation with a gala including a three-course dinner, an auction and the event's signature Adopt a Branch donation program. The evening's highlight was a spectacular finale that brought five featured books to life through performances by noteworthy Canadian performers.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

Mosaic Inc., Pittsburgh

"Forces of Nature"

Designed to help raised funds for Event Pros Take Action, a group that works to rebuild homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the "Forces of Nature" benefit used a raw warehouse as a stage for four 20-by-20-foot design vignettes depicting earth, fire, water and ice. Food was offered both in the vignettes and in common areas, inviting guests to explore and dine progressively through the night.

BEST WEDDING: BUDGET UNDER $1,000 PER GUEST

The JDK Group, Camp Hill, Pa.

"From Farm to Fête"

Amidst a farmland setting, the event team created three distinctive venue spaces with a modern, sophisticated feel. Elegant tents for the ceremony and cocktails were followed by the dramatic reception tent: a glamorous presentation in black and white with stunning floral, tabletops and lighting.

BEST WEDDING: BUDGET $1,000 AND ABOVE PER GUEST

Plan-It Parties, North Potomac, Md.

"Custom Reflection"

The event team pleased a detail-oriented bride with a dramatic ceremony and celebration at Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington, including such flourishes as a custom Lucite chuppah and 12,000 yards of specialty ribbon hand-cut and suspended from the ceiling. The event team overcame several tough challenges, including finding a new decor provider when the original vendor bowed out only 16 days before the wedding.


Andrea Michaels (left) receives a special Gala Award while John Daly and Bonnie Siegel look on.

BEST MULTIPLE-DAY INCENTIVE EVENT

Fourth Wall Events, New York

"BOI-2013 Grand Cayman"

When the client asked for a redesign of its recognition program to make it more intimate and fun, the event team obliged, bringing two waves of 1,000 guests total to the Ritz-Carlton in Grand Cayman for a series of parties culminating in "Starry Night," a Van Gogh-inspired evening under the stars. Attendees gave the program a score of 4.97 out of 5, the highest mark in the 10-year history of this annual incentive.

BEST MULTIPLE-DAY EVENT PROGRAM FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION

Phenomenon Marketing and Communications, Beijing

"The New HTC One Launch"

HTC launched its flagship product, the HTC One, in China with three events in two days. A multipurpose dual-screen stage served different events, while indoor and outdoor experience zones and social media engagement opportunities gave audience members the chance to "hear, see, try and share" the new phone.

BEST EVENT STAGED IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Facts and Fiction, Cologne, Germany

"Bayer Anniversary Tour 2013"

This global roadshow took the message of Bayer's 150th anniversary to some 32,000 guests via a traveling exhibition of 22 containers that keyed on scientific issues with various target groups in mind. Each of the cases referred to one letter of the corporate message statement "Science for a Better Life"; they all fit in 40-foot container or on a single trailer.

BEST FLORAL DESIGN

Designs by Sean, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 

"Rustic Chic"

The ceremony began with an elaborate aisle treatment of 18-foot-tall myrtle trees lining the walkway and overflowing with thousands of blooming branches. The couple exchanged vows under a natural birch branch and floral arbor structure, and then dined at tables with centerpieces featuring four different designs situated within the event floor plan; fresh-cut garden roses, phalaenopsis orchids, mini blush callas and echevaria were featured.

BEST TENT INSTALLATION

Arena Americas, Oak Creek, Wis.

"Tiffany and Co. Blue Book Gala"

For a product launch by high-end jeweler Tiffany and Co., the event team was charged with installing a party structure for 400 VIPs at New York's Rockefeller Center, a bustling business and tourist landmark. The solution: A 39 by 31-meter clearspan structure at a custom 12 degree pitch wrapped with a custom 21-foot tall fabric façade created with trademark "Tiffany blue" fabric.

BEST USE OF LIGHTING

Megavision Arts, Santa Monica, Calif.

"Private Wedding"

For a private wedding in Doha, Qatar, 2D projection mapping was used to create a unique environment as well as to provide progressively changing mood lighting in the ballroom. Projection design transformed the ballroom into a European palace set amongst royal gardens replete with songbirds and butterflies, and incorporated an illusion used to reveal the bride "entering" via horse-drawn carriage.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN TECHNICAL SUPPORT

E=MC2 Events, Calgary, Alberta, and Production Canada, Vaughn, Ontario

"TIFF Inaugural Gala: The Night That Never Ends"

To help the Toronto International Film Festival celebrate the 50th anniversary of James Bond at its inaugural gala, the event team staged a complex event involving a custom venue site with a 12,000-square-foot barge, an 8,000-square-foot dining tent, and action stunts involving a helicopter, a Sea-Doo and an aquatic fireworks display. Complicating the action were gale-force winds and rainstorm warnings, which not only delayed production but forced the implementation of changes.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN LOGISTICS

Phenomenon Marketing and Communications, Beijing

"HTC Cube Campaign 2012"

To bring the new HTC smartphone to second and third tier cities in China, the "Cube" campaign converted a truck trailer into a mobile exhibition unit that offered live performances, product showcases and interactive experiences for visitors over a four-month period. The campaign contacted 1 million consumers and sold an average of 100 smartphones each day.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EVENT RENTAL SUPPORT

Party Reflections, Charlotte, N.C. 

"2012 Democratic National Convention"

The 2012 Democratic National Convention, held in Charlotte, N.C., was a showcase for politicians, lobbyists and dignitaries to gather together and support their chosen candidate for the next president of the United States. The event provided the stage for more than 35,000 guests to be served and entertained during the convention, meaning that producers, caterers, event planners and delegates required full event rental support on a 24-hour basis for the full week they were in Charlotte.  

BEST NEW, INNOVATIVE EVENT PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY

PTE Productions, Orlando, Fla. 

"Swan and Dolphin Holiday Lighting"

The Swan and Dolphin holiday lighting event in Orlando, Fla., integrated proprietary RGBW-1 LED lighting fixtures, developed and manufactured specifically for this event, and festive holiday music for the breezeway connecting the Swan and Dolphin properties. Guests of the resort were dazzled by an imaginative display located at the base of 36 soaring palm trees with three unique holiday themed shows.

BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET $100,000 AND BELOW

Imagination Entertainment, San Diego

"Flashback"

To please an audience of 200 guests, ranging in age from 20s to 60s and hailing from more than 25 countries, the event team developed "Flashback"—a musical journey of medleys spanning the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s. Dozens of hits and instant costume changes brought the audience to its feet.

BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET ABOVE $100,000

MGM Resorts Events, Las Vegas

"Fame"

Some 1,400 guests of the MGM Grand Las Vegas were treated to an immersive entertainment experience that used the event space as the stage to ring in the New Year. The production used a plethora of performance acts and artists including parkour, production numbers, street performance artists, a disc jockey, dancers and urban performance legends--all married with new technology. 

MOST OUTSTANDING SPECTACLE

Vok Dams Events, Wuppertal, Germany

"Lamborghini Aventador Miami City Takeover"

The event team put the eye-catching Lamborghini Aventador Roadster on display at a product launch in Miami with a spin down Ocean Drive, a pop-up store in a high-end shopping district, and a drag race with a Boeing 777 at Miami International Airport. Some 400 international guests—including press, stakeholders and select VIPs—took part in the events; of the 200 international publications invited, 120 put their car on their cover.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET UNDER $1,000 PER GUEST

Newberry Brothers, Denver, and Creative Events and Occasions, Denver

"Dive in with Joseph"

For a bar mitzvah boy who loves to swim, the event team keyed on his favorite sport with touches including acrylic "bubbles" cascading down onto tables and  a "lap pool" dance floor with "pool handles" on the stage. The kids' tables had swimming stroke silhouettes suspended above, and guests departed with custom embroidered towels.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET $1,000 AND ABOVE PER GUEST

Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore, and Luminous, Singapore

"Around the World in 80 Years"

The 80th birthday celebration for a tycoon brought guests from around the world to Singapore for a remarkable five-day event that drew on the honoree's Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Jewish heritage as well as his business accomplishments. Highlights included a Shabbat dinner in the ArtScience Museum, a performance by comedienne Rita Rudner, a birthday dinner featuring stages on each side of the room, and a performance by Paul Anka with the Singapore Symphony.

BEST EVENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN

Vitamin E Events, Hamburg, Germany

"Olympus OM-D 360 Degree Campaign"

To underscore the creative capabilities of the Olympus OM-D camera, the event team invited 12 international artists to turn a 7,500-square-foot space into an interactive exhibition of the theme of "Space and Art." Some 30,000 people visited the installation and used free cameras to shoot images, resulting in 24,000 Facebook fans and nearly 22 million photos.

BEST THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION

EventWorks, Los Angeles, and E Plus Productions, Los Angeles

"Reaching New Heights"

A group of 1,600 VIPs from Amway China were treated to three hours of non-stop entertainment including dancers, acrobats, stilt walkers, musicians, singers and jugglers. A new cylindrical, hydraulic LED center screen, 180-degree projection and 3D rigging converted a barebones aircraft hangar into a theatrical showcase.

BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET UNDER $50,000

Designs by Sean, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Famous Firsts Ltd., Boca Raton, Fla.

"Safari Party"

Some well-traveled clients wanted an African theme event to top them all. As guests arrived in their African themed outfits to the “Safari Party,” they were greeted by a real elephant and two lively costumed tribal pygmies. Decor highlights included a 160-foot mural with a panoramic view of the Serengeti.

BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET $50,000 TO $99,999

Warner Bros Studios Special Events, Burbank, Calif.

"Man of Steel Press Junket"

The event team had only four days to design and install seven fully detailed sets, complete with authentic wardrobe and props from the film, for a multi-day press junket for the movie "Man of Steel." Vignettes including Kal-El's journey on the planet Krypton and the offices of the Daily Planet, inspired by legendary minimalist architect Mies van der Rohe.

BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET $100,000 TO $250,000

Alison Silcoff Events, Montreal, and Decor and More, Oakville, Ontario

"The Daffodil Ball: The Great Gatsby"

Timed to coincide with the release of the Baz Luhrmann film "The Great Gatsby," the 20th anniversary Daffodil Ball took guests to the Roaring Twenties, with decor elements including Gatsby's yellow Rolls-Royce, flappers dancing, art deco decor and some 50,000 daffodils. Standouts included five massive multi-tier crystal chandeliers, pearl necklaces as napkin rings, and feather boas for guests.

BEST DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET ABOVE $250,000

MGM Resorts Events, Las Vegas

"Bloom"

Nearly 2,300 guests enjoyed a blow-out New Year's Eve party in a ballroom transformed into a luxurious garden. Decor elements included nymphs in a huge, mist-filled cage, a hand-cut 30-foot canopy billowing over the ballroom, 30-foot abstract landscapes covering three walls, and a 20-foot water curtain with chevron, paisley and geometric patterns programmed onto the water.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET UNDER $100,000

POP Kollaborative, Calgary, Alberta

"Tag! You're It!"

For the kickoff event for a month-long fundraising campaign benefitting United Way, company employees donned white coveralls and goggles so they could be "tagged" by professional graffiti artists with a message of unity and commitment. The employees then took their own cans of food-grade spray paint to tag one another—an activity that contributed to 65 percent employee engagement in the campaign and $1.5 million raised, both company records.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET $100,000 TO $249,999

Insglueck, Berlin

"New Media Award 2013: Night of Magic Heads"

A giant pop-up book dubbed "The Book of Magic Heads"—a nod to creative minds—served as the backdrop for a prestigious new media awards competition. Every award winner was surprised by a new "page," and the approval ratings for the award ceremony, which had taken a back seat to the after-party, jumped from 42 percent the year prior to 92 percent thanks to the new staging.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET $250,000 TO $500,000

Verve Marketing, Dublin

"Rock and Royalty"

The event team met Google's challenge of creating an "unforgettable" holiday party with "Rock and Royalty." Held on the grounds of Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin, the festivities included everything from performances by Victorian-era strongmen to laser graffiti; a clear-top tent enabled guests to dine while enjoying projection mapping on the courtyard's walls.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET ABOVE $500,000

Vok Dams Events, Wuppertal, Germany

"150th Anniversary: We Are Bayer"

Keying on the simple phrase "We are Bayer," the event team helped the venerable company celebrate its 150th anniversary with some 30,000 current and former employees and their families in the company's own premier league soccer stadium. With the goals of involving attendees and sharing the Bayer message, the activities used 1,500 Bayer volunteers as entertainers, from a young gymnast to the company's own philharmonic orchestra.