10 original stag and hen party ideas, stag/hen weekends - Great stag and hen do ideas for the UK and Ireland
About to be married? Looking for an original stag/hen do?
In days gone by, it used to be enough for the bride or groom-to-be to stroll down to their local pub with a few friends and relatives of the same sex, then stagger home again several hours later, with or without their dignity (and their trousers!) still intact. If the evening had gotten particularly frolicsome, the entertainment might have included a stripper, copious amounts of alcohol, and possibly a ticketless train journey to an unknown destination in one's underwear. How times have changed! These days the hen/stag event requires ingenuity and originality in order to impress.
So you're about to tie the knot, and you're determined to plan one last riotous celebration of singledom and now you're desparately searching for some original ideas of where to go and what to do? Well you need look no further. Help is at hand. Here are my top ten ideas for some very different hen and stag dos based in the UK and Ireland. Some are cheap and cheerful, while others are more adventurous or more expensive, but hopefully there will be something on this list that is just perfect for you and your crowd.
1. Fun and Frolics on the Festival Trail
Yep, the good old festival trail. Once upon a time the only festivals that anyone had ever heard of were Glastonbury and Edinburgh, but now they're popping up everywhere, and they cater for all tastes, from serious music, to pop music, to drama to comedy. There really is something for everyone. Check out the towns and cities below, and find out what's on offer. There might just be the perfect entertainment already packaged and available at a venue near you....this could be a great idea for your stag do or hen party.
- Edinburgh Festival takes place in August each year, and although it's probably most famous for it's comedy, there's much, much more going on, including art exhibitions, film, dance, theatre, opera, Jazz, and there's even a military tattoo! You could treat yourself to a kilt and a sporran, and even a haggis or two whilst you're up there.
- Brighton Festival runs throughout most of May and includes a similar cross-section of entertainment to that on offer in Edinburgh, though the haggises and sporrans might be thin on the ground! Brighton also has a beach, a pier, and more restaurants, bars and nightclubs than you might care to imagine. it's a peach on the South Coast!
- Glastonbury Festival is probably the most famous music festival in the UK. Aside from the opportunity to camp in some serious mud, Glastonbury offers a great programme of good music and a true festival atmosphere. The nearby town of Glastonbury is a fab place to visit if you're in tune with the weird and wonderful, and a saunter up Glastonbury Tor will reward you with some fine views over the countryside, plus a chance to clear your head after all that festival fun.
- Westport, Co. Mayo holds a free, open air music festival over four days in August of each year. If you're a lover of Irish music, and all things Irish, you could do worse than catch a plane to Knock airport and head for this beautiful coastal town. While you're there you might wish to sample the Guinness, or go war-gaming with paintball guns in the wild and rocky terrain at the foot of Croagh Patrick, Ireland's famous Holy Mountain, or perhaps you'd prefer to climb the steep path to the chapel at the top, and say a few prayers along the way! The idea might not appeal to the rest of the stag party or hen party, but there are ususually a few pilgrims on the mountain to keep you company. The legendary Irish band 'The Chieftains' can sometimes be heard playing in Matt Molloy's pub in Westport, and the whole area is a great place to visit.
- Reading Festival 2016 already has tickets for sale, and the dates will be 26-28 August. Once again this festival will be primarily about great music, as indeed, will it's sister festival at Leeds which is organised by the same people, and is held over the same weekend.
- Isle of Wight Festival 2016 is scheduled for the weekend of June 9th to 12th. The Island is a great place to explore at the best of times, but add in the great music, and you're on to a winner. This year's line-up includes Emili Sande, the Stone Roses, Bon Jovi, Paloma Faith, and the Happy Mondays, plus many more great acts.
- Cardiff Music Festival claims to be the largest free outdoor music festival in the UK, and it takes place over a long weekend in June. Cardiff itself is a fine old town with lots to see and do, and it has a cram packed diary of music, comedy and theatrical events running throughout the summer months.
2. Pre-wedding nerves? A night or two in one of these spooktactular hotels might put things in perspective!
So we've all seen Poltergeist, or maybe read the odd ghost story, right? Well how about checking in to one of Britain's haunted hotels and guesthouses to see whether you and your hen party or stag party might trip over the real thing? There are numerous venues in the UK that claim to be haunted, and here are just a few ideas to whet your appetite:
- Hazlewood Castle Hotel, Tadcaster - In 77 acres of quietly beautiful parkland, and only a short distance from the cities of Leeds and York, this ancient, former monastery has been converted into a 4-star luxury hotel with a spa and individually decorated bedrooms.
The Castle is steeped in history and many of the bedrooms, are reputed to be haunted. Ghostly apparitions and sounds are regularly experienced by guests.
Chillingham Castle, Northumberland - enjoys the reputation of being the most haunted castle in the UK. The most famous ghost in residence is the Blue Boy who can sometimes be heard at midnight crying and moaning. When the bloodcurdling wails die away a halo of light is reported to have been seen around an old four poster bed as well as the figure of a young boy dressed in blue. The accommodation is in self-catering apartments, with access to the castle and facilities.
Jamaica Inn, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall - Thanks to the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, this fine old Inn, built in 1750, is famous far and wide. Set in a wild and beautiful corner of England, Jamaica Inn welcomes locals and travellers alike, The cobbled courtyard, beamed ceilings and roaring log fires contribute greatly to the atmosphere of quiet mystery, as do the frequent fogs that spring up on the moor overnight....
Ballyseede Castle, Tralee, Co Kerry, has a turbulent and colourful history. It is now a fine, luxury hotel but the ghosts of its past still haunt the castle and it's grounds. It is said that ghostly apparitions walk the long corridors, and on the 24th of March each year one spirit in particular, affectionately known as Hilda, makes her presence known...The hotel is situated 3 miles from Tralee, and just 8 miles from Kerry Airport, or 75 miles from Shannon Airport.
3. Love fresh air? Feeling rugged? Then how about visiting the Highland Games?
If you love porridge oats, men in kilts, and you fancy a bit of caber tossing, and a ceilidh or two, then this idea's a winner. Every year Highland Games take place all over Scotland, and their dates and details are well publicised here on the internet. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Inveraray Highland Games is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 19th July 2016 at Inveraray Castle, and it will of course feature caber tossing and hammer throwing, and a pipe band or two, as well as a host of international competitors. A more modern addition to the programme is cycle racing. The games at Inveraray can trace their origins right back to 1563, and they attract a lot of visitors, so book your accommodation early!
- Crieff highland gathering takes place in August each year, and is held in the town square. All the traditional games are represented, and dancing and piping contests are also held. So if you fancy a Scottish reel, or even a highland fling, head off to Crieff.
- Loch Lomond Highland Games will take place on Saturday, July 16th 2016. This years offerings included a triathlon which incorporates a swim in the Loch, Scottish wrestling, Scottish dancing, and a pipe band contest. The event takes place in Balloch, at the southern end of Loch Lomond, and it is is a beautiful place for country-lovers to visit. This might provide a gentle alternative to the more traditional, tequila fuelled, night-club frenzy you'll likely experience in Blackpool or Brighton!
4. Party, party on a river cruise
Britain is blessed with some really picturesque waterways, and many of them can best be seen and enjoyed from the deck of a river cruiser. Some of the larger rivers, such as the Thames, have dinner-cruises ready-made for you to book onto, but a great alternative is to hire the boat, the meal and the music as a package. It's another great idea for a very special evening out with your hen party or stag party.
- The Thames is a busy inland waterway, and cruises can be arranged on various stretches, such as Oxford, Reading, and the City of London.
- The Severn has the distinction of being the longest river in the UK, and cruises can be booked at several places along it's 220+ mile stretch, most notably at Worcester.
- The Trent has it's source in Staffordshire, and flows through the Midlands until it joins the River Ouse to form the Humber Estuary. River cruises, including pre-packaged stag nights and hen nights, can be booked for boats in the Nottingham area.
- The River Lagan runs through Belfast, and at least one of the local cruise operators offers a Titanic Cruise which involves visiting Harland and Wolfe where the famous ship was built in Belfast Docks.
- The River Liffey is the wonderful waterway that wends it's way through Dublin's fair city in Southern Ireland. This could be the perfect way to enjoy a trip to Eire's capital city.
- The River Forth in Scotland offers some stunning scenery for the would-be cruiser to enjoy. Head up to South Queensferry near Edinburgh and check you hen party or stag party onto a boat with a view.
5. Wine Tasting
This is an idea with many possibilities. Wine tasting events are popular, and often available, pre-organised at hotels, restaurants and vineyards up and down the country. You just book and turn up. Check the internet and local newspapers for venues near you, or failing that, organise your own event by contacting a local wine merchant.
6. Murder Mystery weekend
A Murder Mystery dinner, or a Murder Mystery weekend might just offer an ideal opportunity to inject some civilised fun into your hen do or stag do. Lots of hotels offer these events, especially on long winter evenings, For a cheap, do-it-yourself version, clear the decks at home, then buy yourself a murder-mystery kit from the internet or a bookshop, and invite all your mates to come and solve the crime!
7. Free tickets to see TV shows being recorded. Yes! FREE!
Did you know that many of your favourite TV series are recorded in front of live audiences, and that the tickets for these events are usually free? Yes, that's right. FREE.
There are quite a number of websites advertising these tickets, and all you need to do is sign up. Most of the recordings are done at TV studios in places like London and Manchester, and there's a huge variety of tickets available including tickets to really popular shows such as the X Factor. This could be a really great (and inexpensive) way to kick off an evening with your nearest and dearest.
Entertainment at a Medieval Banquet in London
8. The Medieval Banquet
If you fancy being transported into the past for an evening of medieval feasting and drinking, a medieval banquet could be the answer. Stag parties and hen parties can join in the fun at these planned events at many venues throughout the UK. These banquets typically feature handsome knights, buxom wenches, flowing mead, live music, and often jesters, jugglers and other suitably medieval entertainment. They mostly take place in historic locations, and have plenty of atmosphere. It could be a night to remember!
The Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co. Cork, Eire
9. Whip up a feast at a weekend cookery course
These days you're as likely to find the guys in the kitchen, as the girls, so a weekend cookery course might be a very different venue for a hen weekend or a stag weekend. If you look on the search engines, there's no shortage of excellent courses and venues on offer, whether it be learning to prepare seafood in Padstow, cooking organic produce in Ireland, learning some cordon bleu tricks in London, or getting to grips with green cuisine in Cheshire. This might not be the first choice for younger pre-nuptial revellers, but it's always good to have a few new tricks up your sleeve for when the honeymoon is over!
10. The sky's the limit - sky-diving with a twist
So you're about to take the plunge in the matrimonial sense? Now could be a good time to take the plunge in a more literal sense. For those of you reading this who have an adventurous crowd of mates to share your stag or hen do with, you might consider sky-diving - with a twist! Training for sky-dives is now available in a vertical wind-tunnel, which means that this amazing experience can be had without the need to jump from a plane.To enter the tunnel, you just stand in the open doorway and lean forward. Immediately you feel your legs lifted from under you, as you naturally assume a horizontal flying position. It's a truly original way to celebrate with your friends. Of course, if your mates think this is too tame, then there's always the real thing......
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