The Best Nights Out in Britain
There's a reason they call it'Great' Britain! We've made the night out into an art form. And you don't just have to go to the obvious places for a belter of an evening on the town. I've delved deep into the beer fund to research some alternative options. Here's what I came up with. Now I'm going to go lie down in a darkened room for about a week...
When you think of York, you probably don't think of massive nights out. You should. A land of milk and honey for the stag party on a mission, the historic city divides its drinking time between quaint old pubs and crazy clubs.
Johnny Depp's favourite bar (apparently) is the Evil Eye, which serves up killer cocktails right under the gaze of the legendary Stonegate Devil. Start here - drinking an Adios Mother Lover on a massive wooden bed - and your night could go just about anywhere.
Obviously you can't hit a stag do in York without sampling the local pubs. There are 365 of them, a fact the locals never get tired of reminding you. With one boozer for every day of the year, you'd think there would never be a familiar face in the same pub twice, but actually those in the know tend to stick to a few primo watering holes. I recommend The York Tap, which has the added advantage of being a station pub. If you're coming in by train, you can easily lose a few hours in here thanks to the huge selection of craft beer, ale and cider.
Club wise, you've got plenty to choose from. Kuda is where the upmarket crowd head. Check in here for beautiful people, beautiful decor and beautiful prices. If an underground vibe is more your thing, head to Mansion on Micklegate instead. Depending on the night, you'll either encounter hefty EDM or an eclectic cheeseboard, the latter courtesy of ex-Willow (ask a local) DJ Max.
For the city that practically invented clubbing, Manchester is light on massive venues these days. If you're looking for the authentic Madchester experience, seek out Sankeys in Radium Street (Sankeys also has a residency in Ibiza, and a stag do in Manchester is sure to suit ravers), the Warehouse Project underneath Piccadilly Train Station, or South in South King Street. South is run by one of the old Hacienda crew, and features both electro/techno nights and the city's least pretentious indie night: Clint Boon's Disco Rescue, now the longest-running event in town.
Quirky bars, quirky pubs and latebars are more Manchester's stock in trade these days. Head to the Northern Quarter for the best of all of them. Highly recommended spots include both Odd bars, plus Pie and Ale and El Capo NQ. There's also a fearsome flaming tiki bar called Hula. I dare you to drink more than one cocktail here and walk out upright.
The epitome of the'new' Manchester night out is the Black Dog Ballroom, a classy speakeasy underneath Affleck's Palace in the Northern Quarter. Think tan leather, black wood and retro 50s pool tables. Then think epic DJ sets and hipsters.
The home of the Beatles has been synonymous with wild nights out ever since, well, the Beatles. The Cavern Club still packs out the crowds every Friday and Saturday night, and the polished clubbing set continue flocking to worship at the altar of Cream: but like other northern cities, Liverpool has learned to move with the times. If you don't fancy waiting in line with a million style-conscious ravers, the city has plenty of other delights to offer.
Motel in Fleet Street may well be the best dive bar in the country. Its epic industrial/school dining room crossover decor includes wooden cow-heads, candles in jam jars and a neon sign reading'Sleep is the Baby Mama of Death'. Stay here all night and drink heavy-duty cocktails.
The Baltic Triangle is one of the reasons a stag do in Liverpool made it onto the Rough Guide list of'50 things to do before you die'. Formerly a warehouse district, it's now a creative quarter packed with oddball businesses, wild bars and big party nights. If you want to seek out and destroy alternative techno or brilliant live music, this is where you go.
If you don't want to ignore Liverpool's most famous musical exports, but don't want to squeeze into a crowded Cavern Club either, head out to Ye Cracke in Rice Street. This weird and wonderful pub is one of the oldest in the city, and features a beautiful beer garden. Oh, and its connection to the Beatles? John Lennon used to drink here, with his girlfriend Cynthia.
Where's your favourite night out? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter...