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Many thousands of people across the globe are currently counting down the hours until they can enjoy a few Friday night beers, or a cheeky glass or two of mid-week vino, entirely guilt-free.
Dry January, a campaign by Alcohol Change UK, encourages us to sign up to abstain from alcohol for the whole month of January every year. And many of us seem increasingly happy to take up the challenge.
As this January draws to an end, and a shiny new year stretches ahead of us, we thought we’d reflect on the shifting role of alcohol in stag weekend celebrations, and share some booze-free stag do activity ideas for your consideration.
In January 2008, prominent businessman Frank Posillico took a month off the booze and subsequently extolled the many notable wins relating to weight loss, cost-saving and general wellbeing improvements. Various journalists caught wind of the idea and the concept slowly gathered pace, until Elizabeth Robinson (who had given up the sauce in order to train for a half marathon) joined Alcohol Change UK and formalised the Dry January campaign. In 2013, its first official year, 4,000 people signed up to take part. Interest has grown year on year ever since, with more than 130,000 signing up in 2022. And that’s not to mention the many thousands of people who observe the month of abstinence each year without formally registering.
To dig into the science behind the initiative, Alcohol Change UK joined forces with behaviour change experts at the University of Sussex. Their studies found that there really were immediate health benefits to pausing alcohol consumption even just for those few weeks. And there was also a pattern of lasting behaviour change for as long as six months later, with seven out of ten people drinking less ‘riskily’ than before, and a quarter of participants who had been drinking at harmful levels prior to taking part, moving into a lower risk category. This research led to Public Health England formally endorsing the initiative in 2015 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Thanks to movements like Dry January, Veganuary and Stoptober, we’re becoming gradually but collectively more health-conscious. Veganism is no longer brushed off as an annoying hippy fad, smoking twenty fags a day doesn’t make you Danny-Zuko-cool, and men can announce to their mates that they’re sticking to soft drinks for a while without being peer-pressured into downing six Jaegerbombs as punishment.
And, as younger generations distance themselves from the booze-laden 90’s crew (of which I was a proud member, by the way!) The Stag Company finds we need - and want - to offer a more varied range of alternative stag do ideas to our customers. Because now more than ever before, stag groups are embracing alcohol-free options, and looking for inclusive ways for different pockets of friends to spend an enjoyable weekend together.
Lots of the stag activities that we sell still involve alcohol in some form or another; Nightclub Booths with bottles on the table, interactive Cocktail-Making Classes where you get to make your own creations, Whisky Tasting, Beer Tasting, Gin Tasting, and city centre Bar Crawls, to name but a few. All of these are great fun, meet with rave reviews, and are organised in a responsible manner by trusted partners who share our mission to facilitate memorable weekends for our customers.
The events industry thrives on the warm memories, cheeky antics, and general merriment created by group celebrations. In fact, we could write a very-funny-but-slightly-inappropriate book about some of the hilarious, booze-fuelled stag antics of our customers over the years. We can all recall amusing tales of drunken nights out and there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting your mates together and sinking a few too many ales.
That said, we’ve noticed a shift towards groups wanting to book daytime activities and evening entertainment that won’t result in Kev vomiting up a dirty kebab into his lap during the cab ride home.
For starters, a lot of our classic Stag activities require everyone in the group to be sober in order to take part. Put simply, it’s very much frowned upon to turn up to a session of Axe-Throwing or Rifle Shooting whilst even just a teensy bit tipsy!
This aside, there are a growing number of lads who simply don’t want to spend the whole weekend feeling worse for wear and who’ve decided once and for all that eating is not, in fact, cheating. These groups would rather organise a lovely cycle ride in the countryside to celebrate their pre-nuptials, and then spend their hard-earned cash on a six-course taster menu at the latest pop-up restaurant, thank you very much.
In a nutshell, there may well be some hardened drinkers on your guestlist, but there’s also a growing recognition across society that not everyone in a group wants to drink to excess. Fear not! Both preferences can easily be catered for if you make the right activity choices - and that’s where we come in.
Escape Rooms have become one of our best-selling activities in recent years, with some amazing, interactive experiences on offer across our top UK locations. Pier Pressure, in our home town of Brighton, is a particularly popular choice, offering themed games and providing the perfect way to get different groups of mates bonding together whilst solving puzzles against the clock.
A popular outdoor activity that never gets old is It’s A Knockout, an action-packed assault course featuring authentic props, costumes and inflatables from the iconic TV show. Available in many UK locations, its wacky challenges are simply unrivalled for their side-splitting hilarity. Book this, and you’ll be sure to collect memorable anecdotes that will be told for many a year to come.
Go-karting is the Stag do classic that just keeps giving. Our long-standing partner, Team Sport, has fab multi-level indoor tracks in Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham (to name but a few) and they’ve recently been investing in top-of-the-range electric karts to please the planet, as well as your guests.
Some other classic activities that consistently receive positive feedback from our customers are Clay-Pigeon Shooting, Mud Buggies, Quad Biking, Rifle-Shooting - and of course, you can’t go wrong with a competitive game of Bubble Football or Footgolf. With all of these options, we can guarantee buckets of fun, some healthy banter and plenty of competitive jostling, without a drop of alcohol in sight.
For something more adventurous within the UK, why not head to the beautiful Welsh countryside and visit Bounce Below in Snowdonia for an afternoon of caving, or Zip World Velocity to take on the longest zip wire in the Northern Hemisphere. Or back in our home town of Brighton, you can challenge the boys to take on the Walk i360 experience - brave the seaside elements and soak in the scenic panoramic views, as you stroll across the iconic glass viewing pod, 138 metres above the ground.
Staying in Brighton, you could revisit your teenage years by purchasing Brighton Pier SuperSaver Wristbands and enjoying unlimited rides whilst chowing down on hot fried donuts and vinegar soaked chips. You may be avoiding the booze, but we’re all allowed one vice, right? Afterwards, head to Torstigbar, an alcohol free bar in the Kemptown area of our city, or during summer months, find a section of the beach that permits BBQs and kick back to chat, share tales of yesteryear, and watch the waves. If a touch of relaxation is called for, Beach Box Spa offers wood-fired saunas, hot and cold showers, and a vibey chillout area, right on the beach, but sheltered away from the hustle and bustle.
For stag do nights out that don’t revolve around alcohol, why not opt for a Comedy Club. With the right environment and a decent stand-up on stage, you can laugh your socks off with just a pint of lemonade as fuel. The Frog and Bucket in Manchester attracts the biggest acts on the international circuit, whilst Komedia in Brighton offers the very best line-ups in uniquely cool surroundings.
Many of the group dinner reservations that can be booked through us include a free drink as part of the price and this can usually be a beer, house wine, or a soft drink. So there’s no need for a fuss, or public group discussion, if someone wants to stick to the lime and soda.
European stag dos are a great choice for groups that don’t want proceedings to revolve around drinking. There’s so much to see in a new city, and you’ll have the option of exploring via various forms of transport, including organised walking tours, cycle hire, open top buses, and boat trips.
An activity that has grown in popularity with the Stag crowd in recent years, is our Thermal Spa Experience in Budapest, a three-hour reservation at a traditional Hungarian wellness spa, during which you’ll lay back in the warm, mineralised spring water, feel those tense muscles relax, and watch your worries float away.
In Amsterdam, you could opt for Private Canal Boat Hire and meander down the peaceful waterways, watching the world go by. Or to take the tempo up a bit, why not arrange to stitch the stag up with a Fake Arrest, a truly unforgettable experience that will pretty much write the Best Man speech on your behalf.
For the football fans in your group, you might consider heading to Barcelona for a Nou Camp Stadium Tour. As well as getting the chance to witness the sheer size of this awesome stadium, your tickets will give you access to an interactive multimedia zone and entry to the club museum, where you can learn a bit more about the history and culture of the club too.
To please any adrenaline-loving mates, you may fancy booking our Team Bobsleigh experience in Riga (other locations available). An afternoon hurtling down the narrow, twisting ice runs of the Sigulda track, training ground of Olympic athletes, is not for the faint of heart, but you definitely won’t miss the buzz of drinking, when you have this much adrenaline coursing through your veins.
Lastly, remember that you definitely don’t need to be drunk to appreciate the offerings of the many strip clubs and lap dancing venues on offer in our European destinations.