28 Feb 2023
The stag party tradition can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece. Evidence suggests that it first came about in the fifth century, in Sparta, where military comrades would hold a mighty feast and toast one another on the eve of a friend's wedding. The groom would hold his chalice aloft, bid adieu to the carefree days of bachelorhood, and swear continued allegiance to his comrades.
In more recent times, the stag do shifted from organising a few pints with your nearest and dearest in the local pub, to becoming a rip-roaring drinking fest, a thing to be feared by city dwellers, as hordes of men in luminous mankinis stormed along the High Street. Like the never-ending challenge of children’s birthday parties, the primary job of the Best Man was to organise something bigger and better than what had gone before, stretching the limits and stepping blindly into the outrageous, as well as onto aeroplanes heading further afield.
Today, our bestselling UK packages include a timeless mix of adrenaline activities, central bars and a decent hotel to lay one’s head, whilst EU booking trends show that a few nights of fun in Spain or eastern Europe generally fit the bill for those looking to splash a bit more cash on their last few days of singledom.
Over the last decade or so, we’ve also seen an increasing number of people opting for joint Hen and Stag parties, where the happy couple come together, pool their friends (and their budget) and arrange the shared night out to end all nights out. Twice the guests, twice the fun, right?
‘Sten dos’ or ‘hag dos’ (referred to as such due to the overwhelming temptation of word merge!) provide an inclusive and cost-effective way of celebrating the upcoming nuptials in one big group. Already-happy couples get to hang out with each other, single friends get to mingle with a whole new set of people, and strong bonds are formed ahead of The Big Day itself. Stereotypes and traditions are set aside and the only item on the agenda is inoffensive, inclusive FUN!
We sell lots of great activities that are perfect for large, mixed groups to enjoy together: boat trips, It’s a Knockout, Bubble Football and immersive escape experiences, to name but a few. We can help you to introduce a competitive element to daytime proceedings, before reserving a few booths in a decent bar for your group, and getting you on the guestlist of the nearest club, so you can strut your collective funky stuff on the dancefloor until the early hours.
With same-sex marriage at long last being legalised in many countries around the globe in recent years, and here in the UK back in early 2014, we’ve also seen an increase in people searching for gay stag do ideas. We know that there is no ‘one size fits all’ stag weekend; our customers all have different wishlists and preferences for their pre-nuptial celebrations, and we aim to cater to everyone’s requirements.
With this in mind, our team have shared their top tips for LGBT+ friendly stag locations and it may not surprise you to know that in the UK, The Stag Company’s beloved home city of Brighton came out amongst the front runners!
But what makes a destination LGBT+ friendly? Well, we’re thinking of cities in which all bars, hotels, restaurants and establishments are welcoming to the LGBT + community, without any sense of judgement. Places that feel generally safe, respectful and inclusive, where the residents are open-minded, embrace difference and make all types of people feel at home. And - of course - cities where your group will have an enjoyable and memorable stay!
Our buzzing capital city of London is often referred to as one of the world’s top LGBT+ destinations, with a varied and extravagant nightlife scene. For a memorable night out, head to Soho, the beating heart of LGBT London. Soho is home to traditional gay pubs like the Admiral Duncan and Kings Arms as well as a wealth of fun bars and clubs such as G-A-Y, Ku Bar and The Yard. Vauxhall is another great spot for LGBT nightlife: Eagle London, The Royal Vauxhall Tavern and Above The Stag are all musts for a great night out.
By day, book into one of London’s high end retreats for a spa afternoon, or organise a hazy, lazy picnic in Green Park, Hyde Park or Primrose Hill where you can watch the world go by as the bubbly flows. There’s a plethora of tourist attractions to choose from, as well as boat trips along the Thames so you can see the sights without using up too much energy before the partying really begins.
Amsterdam is frequently voted as one of the most popular LGBT+ friendly destinations in Europe, and the city is famously liberal, open and fun-loving. As well as its inclusive and abundant nightlife scene - including venues such as fabulous four-storey Club NYX and fetish dance club, Church - the city of canals also offers a wealth of unique, eclectic and cultural options by day.
For an educational day out, visit some of the fascinating museums and art galleries, or book a tour around the old Heineken brewery. For some well-deserved relaxation, head to one of Amsterdam’s many gay saunas, or simply hire a bicycle and weave your way along the canals. If all else fails, wander around the charming cobbled streets, drinking in the countless cafes, coffee shops and boutiques.
Famous for a wildly vibrant nightlife scene where anything goes and the good times never end, Berlin is a paradise for party animals, and for LGBT groups looking for exclusively gay bars, clubs and cafés. A good place to start is in the Schöneberg neighbourhood, where you’ll find hard-core techno club Berghain, or fairly close by, loud and proud mainstream pop venue SchwuZ.
During daylight hours, Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery are must-visit tourist hotspots. You might opt to soak up some gay culture, history and art at the Schwules Museum, and because it’s near to Tiergarten Park, you might stop for a wander if the weather is kind, and pay tribute to the park’s ‘Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism’. To lighten the mood, head to areas such as Prenzlauer, Kreuzberg and Schoneberg, which are all known for their plethora of alternative establishments and quirky shops.
Renowned all over the world as a gay mecca, and termed as the UK’s unofficial LGBT capital, Brighton boasts a fantastic array of nightlife options, as well as an incredible cultural scene. All year round, the city is spilling over with diverse artistic, theatrical, musical and creative offerings.
Every May, Brighton comes alive as the proud host of The Great Escape music festival, the Fringe Festival and the Brighton Festival. It’s a perfect time to visit, but make sure that you book accommodation and entertainment with due notice, because it’s one of the busiest months of the year. Or, if you’re looking to celebrate your pre-nuptials in rainbow coloured style, then why not visit in August for Brighton’s Pride Festival. The biggest and best Pride celebration in the world, the parade and endless partying will provide a memorable backdrop for your big weekend.
The Bulldog is Brighton’s longest running gay pub and can be found on St James’s Street, in the heart of Kemptown, an area of the city that is also home to The Queen’s Arm, where you’ll be met with outspoken live acts and fabulous burlesque performances. Also in the Kemptown area are the riotous Revenge, R-Bar, and Legends, all of which guarantee a fantastic, fun-filled night out. For chilled sunny vibes, head to the seafront and choose from the many beachside cafes, restaurants and watering holes that greet you.
As I write this blog post, LGBT+ History Month is coming to an end for another year. The initiative, founded by School’s Out and taking place every February, strives to promote equality and diversity across our education curriculum, learning institutions, workplaces and the wider community. They do this by raising awareness and advancing education on matters affecting the LGBT+ community, working to make educational institutions safe spaces for all, and promoting the general welfare of LGBT+ people, so they can contribute fully to society and lead fulfilled lives.
February may be drawing to a close, but here at The Stag Company, our arms remain open all year round, to welcome in all types of people, from all walks of life. However stag dos change and evolve, our mission remains to facilitate groups of friends and family getting together, taking part in fun activities and shared experiences, and creating precious memories.
Steph is one of our directors, responsible for all things people and culture related. She’s a Chartered MCIPD, executive coach, volunteer trainer and teetotal vegan, who loves walking in the great outdoors and always has a smile on her face!View all posts by Steph
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