Amsterdam, nice this time of year

As the ICE opportunity swings round once more, the casino and betting community is descending on London for another week-long jamboree of expensive sandwiches and networking.

Except it’s not really a week, is it? Some ICE veterans have a mantra: “It’s only 72 hours,” but in truth, it’s less than that.

Yes, it’s three days but the show hours are 10am until 6pm on the first two days and 10-4pm on the third. Ignoring set-up time for exhibitors, for many of the 30,000-plus visitors that equates to 22 hours of actual ICE time.

Assuming visitors attend three evening events, each for four hours, and spend another hour a day on the Boulevard or at The Fox pre- or post opening, the average time spent working at ICE comes in at around 37 hours.

Then there’s some late-night drinks/networking at the hotel, maybe two hours a night for three nights?  A handful of pertinent emails on the train/plane following up hot leads, plus chatting in a few shared cabs or on the DLR, and all those other activities that necessitate a VAT receipt. Let’s go for 48 hours.

Forty-eight hours. Not so bad, right? Ok, not so long that you could go without water or hold your breath but hardly a death sentence. And why would you not be there? ICE remains an outstanding business opportunity.

What else would you do with those 48 hours? What else could you do – and would it be worth missing ICE for?

Watch all of Breaking Bad

Now this is tricky. There are 62 episodes of the hit AMC show, which each ran over an hour, originally. So that would be 62 hours. Except, most will have watched Walt and Jessie’s misadventures on demand, as a box set. That way, the average running time is 47 minutes. Sixty-two episodes at 47 minutes comes out as 48 hours and 34 minutes in total.

But then you’d happily hit the button to Skip Intro and bail out as soon as the credits begin to roll, comfortably bringing the total viewing time in under 48 hours.

Explore the fine Dutch city of Amsterdam

It’s only an hour from London Stansted, itself just a short hop from ExCeL. You can fly out at 9.40am on Tuesday and return Wednesday evening, landing at 10pm. All on EasyJet and with hours to spare.

Take in the Rijksmuseum, enjoy a bracing canal boat trip, get flattened by a runaway Segway. You can fit all that in, plus pancakes and other cultural delicacies, and be back at ExCeL for show opening on day three. It’s a thought.

Read all of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

And you thought ICE was a slog. To read all of the four books that comprise The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy would take the average reader – reading at a speed of 300 words per minute – approximately 24 hours and 28 minutes to read. That splits nicely into two long days of reading, around 12 hours each sitting, with enough time either side for eating and sleeping. There’s even time to stop every hour or two for a little cry as you encounter another four-page Hobbit song about butter beer.

If you could up your average words-per-minute to 369, you could fit in all of JK Rowling’s seven Harry Potter novels in 48 hours – but that would leave no time to sleep or eat. Extra house points if you could.

Complete four Ironman contests

A standard Ironman contest takes about 12 hours and 35 minutes for the average triathlete, we are told. So if you are above average in terms of triathlete fitness (of course you are) – and insane – then you could take on 9.6 miles of swimming, 448 miles of cycling and run four marathons, all without a break, in the time allocated for ICE.

Just thinking about someone else doing this amount of exercise is enough to make CB feel sick. Suddenly the vast halls of ExCeL don’t seem so big.

Sit through all of the James Bond films, even Moonraker

This too needs a little creative accounting, since the 26 Bond films in question amount to a minute or two shy of 53 hours of screen time. That’s a five-hour overshoot.

Now Bond purists might scoff at the inclusion of David Niven’s 1967 outing in Casino Royale and the “unofficial” 1983 007 movie Never Say Never Again, starring Sean Connery, so let’s count them out. Cut those two from the list and skip the mostly unnecessary and overlong credits (we don’t enjoy them, Barbara) and you could sneak the lot in at just under 48 hours. Tempting.


With the possible exception of a hop to the Netherlands, trawling the floors of ExCeL for three days at ICE probably is the best use of that time. And there are likely to be fewer Hobbit songs. Just go easy on the butter beer.