The ultimate Best Mans Guide to organising a stag do

Best Man Guide
Best Man Guide

The Ultimate Best Man’s Guide to Organising a Stag Weekend

You knew it might be coming, you just didn’t know when.  So you your best mate has kindly asked you to be his Best Man for the wedding, and now expects you to arrange an all-guns-blazing stag do that will give him the time of his life on his last night of freedom.  No pressure then.

Fear not, our Ultimate Best Man’s Guide will help navigate your way through the mother of all to do lists and set you up for the greatest stag do known to man or beast.

Best Man Guide

1. Finding your feet

A good sit down session in the pub with the groom always makes a good start.  Try to glean as much information as possible.  What dates suit his availability and are a safe distance before the wedding (remember, eye brows need some time to grow back)? How long does he want to be away for?  What style of weekend is he expecting?  What sort of activities would he like to do?

You will also need to know who on the invite list are his best friends and must be accommodated to ensure attendance.  Therefore, it’s always best to find out two or three weekends you are both free to attend the stag.

Remember, you will always want to keep plenty up your sleeve for the weekend, so this is an information finding process only.  It’s always a lot more fun to keep the destination secret, but this may not suit him so find out his expectations during the chat.

You will also need a full invite list (with email addresses and phone numbers).

2. Who’s coming then?

It’s now time to fire off an email to find out who is available and willing to attend.  You need some firm commitment from the group to make things easier for the organisation that will come later, so you may want to consider your wording to ensure you do not receive too many “maybe” responses.  It may be worth offering two or three dates and going with the majority.

Best Man Guide

3. Time constraints, Budget & Destination

You will need to consider the group’s likely budget and time constraints.  There’s no point in organising a week-long trip to Vegas if only 4 from 20 people sign up.  So it may be worth proposing a first option and see who is keen to attend, before then re-evaluating if necessary.

But whatever you do, don’t give the group too many options or you’ll get just as many wide ranging opinions in reply.  Many people who have organised these things before will tell you: keep it simple!

When considering destination, always think of logistics for each attendee.  You won’t be a popular man if a large number of the stag’s mates cannot attend because they are too far from the proposed destination.

4. Accommodation

Once you’ve decided on your destination, it’s now time to organise some suitable accommodation.  You might want to consider hotels, cottages, glamping, camping.  Hotels are often the easiest option.

If people drop out over the coming months then it’s a lot easier to reduce the number of hotel rooms than to ask the whole group to contribute more towards a 14 bed cottage when only 10 can attend come final payment.

Best Man Guide

5. Activity

Once you’ve nailed the destination and accommodation, it now time to turn your attention to a Saturday activity.  The expectation on most stag weekends is to take part in some form of fun filled activity.

It’s important to consider an activity that is likely to appeal to most people, and to do something that people have not done before.  Paintballing is good fun, but may be a bit dull if 80% of your group have already done it on another stag do.  So be original and you’ll make it a weekend to remember.

6. Packages

To take the pressure off, you may want to organise the entire weekend as a package through another company.  West Country Weekends can help in this respect and you often get a lot more for your money than booking everything by yourself.  The benefits of booking a package are plentiful when you think of all these inclusions:

  • Allocation on hotels meaning instant confirmation upon booking
  • Individual payment system – this means that you don’t need to collect money from the group, they just pay their share directly saving you all that annoying chasing
  • VIP nightclub entry
  • Lap dance club entry
  • Additional activities – add on a second activity you may not have thought of yourself
  • Private dining
  • Restaurants suitable to groups
  • VIP Casino entry
  • Only a £50 deposit to pay initially
Best Man Guide

7. Final Thoughts

So just to recap, here is your Best Man’s Stag Weekend to do list.  Don’t be too overwhelmed by being the Best Man, after all it’s a real honour of the lasting friendship you’ve made!

To Do List

  • Speak to the Stag and find out who he wants to attend, what he expects from the stag weekend and potential dates.
  • Find out how many people will be on the stag do and their level of commitment
  • Decide on a destination based on time restraints, budget and logistics
  • Ensure everything is booked for the stag do from, accommodation to activities. Book as a package through an outside company if you’re short on time and want to take the pressure off yourself.  Try and do this as early on as possible to get the best deals and availability
  • Look after the stag over the course of the weekend – remember you’ll have the Bride to answer to if you really mess things up!
  • Enjoy your best mate’s last night of freedom!

 

The Ultimate Guide to Organising a Hen Weekend

Hen Guide
Hen Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Organising a Hen Weekend

When your best friend calls you, you already have a feeling what she’s going to tell you. After discussing details of romantic proposals, talk turns to the hen do. She doesn’t even need to ask you to be her chief bridesmaid, you’ve both always known the line-up.

Here’s the ultimate guide to making sure that you do your friend proud with an unforgettable weekend of fun and bonding.

The lady of the moment

The most important place to start is to arrange a time with the hen to go through details. Although it is great to have a surprise weekend, you want to make sure that it’s a surprise weekend that she’s going to love.

What is the most important part of the hen do for her? Is it to make sure she has as many of her family and friends there to celebrate or to go abroad for a week long holiday for some pre-wedding sunshine?

You won’t want to have an itinerary from her but you need to know the style of weekend that she will enjoy, there’s no point booking a spa and cheer leading class type weekend if she is more of an outdoor events kind of a girl. It’s also important to make sure that her friends have similar tastes to her before you book anything as it only takes a couple of unhappy people to bring down the mood of the weekend.

Getting the details of the other bridesmaids at the start gives you a good opportunity to get to know her other close friends and to pool ideas so you have the perfect weekend for your bestie.

Hen Party

Party goer list

The hen’s availability is obviously crucial but you want to have a range of dates so as many of her nearest and dearest can be there too. You’ll need to make sure that she gives you a full list of email addresses and phone numbers of the people she wants to invite.

If there are some key people it’s a good idea to contact them first to check that they will definitely be there and have a secondary list of people who are given less choice of the date as it might be difficult to find one that is perfect for everyone.

Hen Weekend

Getting in the numbers

Weddings can get expensive for everyone, not just the happy couple. As the chief organiser the responsibility of getting as many people as possible to turn up to the hen weekend lies with you, no pressure! It’s worth considering the stage of life of the hen do attendees before you start planning luxury escapes if it’s going to exclude half of the guest list. The same goes for the destination, if that’s going to be a deal breaker for people maybe a venue not too far from home would tick all the boxes.

The chances are the most important aspect for the hen will be having all of her friends together for a good ol’ knees up so the more the merrier.

If you can secure a list of definite people or who will be at each part of the weekend if dipping in and out is an option, it will make the planning far easier. Having a budget planned at the start helps keep things under control and allows people to decide their limitations before committing and they might be less likely to drop out.

If you plan activities or book accommodation for a certain number and people do drop out it might be left to the other people share out the extra cost.

Accommodation

As a base for your hen weekend this needs careful consideration, you need to think about the type of weekend that you have planned.

Are you going to book a city break or an activity packed weekend with the accommodation just being used as a place to stumble back to in the early hours and sleep off a hangover before dragging yourselves back out for more action? If this is the case, maybe a hotel would be the best option. If you are you going to be looking for a place which is a feature of the hen weekend or a pad to relax and spend time together, a big house, camping or glamping might be better suited to you.

Just keep thinking back to the hen and the other types of people who will be partying with you for the weekend. If most of party goers are going to be city birds who baulk at the idea of getting mud on their pristine white stilettos, a weekend of camping and quad biking might not be the right approach.

Hen Ideas

Activities

A good hen weekend needs a fun activity in the day time. It’s a great time for everyone to get to know each other and gives the weekend some structure. There are so many different options that its worth exploring alternative ideas before going straight for the obvious activities that everyone has done before, you don’t want 12 cocktail making experts by the end of the weekend. Likewise, horse riding across Dartmoor followed by camping might not be the right activity if Great Aunt Maud is a key player.

Try to keep within the guidelines given by the hen as it is her hen weekend and it is all about making it as fun as possible for her, not planning your own ultimate weekend. Chatting to the bridesmaids throughout is a great way to rein it in and keep on track with your best buddy in mind.

Packages

If life is busy or you just like the idea of someone sorting it all out for you, you could always look to the experts and get West Country Weekends on board. Not only do you have experienced help and keep it simple but often you end up getting more for your money than booking everything individually. Additional benefits include:

  • Allocation on hotels meaning instant confirmation upon booking
  • VIP nightclub entry
  • VIP Casino entry
  • Private dining
  • Restaurants suitable to groups
  • Local knowledge of an area you might not know
  • Additional activities – add on a second activity you may not have thought of yourself
  • Only a £50 deposit to pay initially
  • Individual payment system – this means that you don’t need to collect money from the group, they just pay their share directly saving you all that annoying chasing
Hen do

And lift off

You’ve done it, you’ve booked the ultimate hen weekend that will just serve to remind your friend of how close you are and that you possibly know her even better than she knows herself.

Sending an email to everyone before the weekend with the finer details such as timings, specific clothing for activities, fancy dress, how much cash people will need if its rural break for taxis etc will mean you have less questions to field and people will be more prepared. The hen will also need enough details to bring the right stuff and feel comfortable and you will need to bear in mind any spare clothes for her if it’s a messy activity and you don’t want to spoil the surprise.

Plan the finer details such as taxis and food arrangements so people aren’t hanging around and looking to you all weekend to make decisions, you want to be busy having fun and not having to arrange anything as you go.

Success List:

  • Always think back to the hen and other people going to the hen weekend
  • Know who are the most important people when arranging dates
  • Consider budgets and logistics when you decide on the destination
  • Get people to commit before securing bookings for accommodation and activities
  • Do as much booking as you can before the big weekend, people like to know that it’s all under control and when you’re away you’ll just have to worry about where the next tray of Jager bombs are coming from
  • Have her back – make yourself the responsible person for getting your friend home at the end of the night , put a pint of water by the bed and have hangover snacks ready for the morning after recovery.
  • Have fun

Festive Events in Bristol

Festive Events Bristol
Festive Events Bristol

Festive events in Bristol

Our guide to the best of Christmas festivities in and around Bristol

It’s December, which means it’s socially acceptable to mention the big C, and get involved in some festive events in Bristol!

Bristol has celebrated the onset of the festive event period by looking like its had an accident with an oversized snow globe.  Wherever you look there are twinkling lights and signs of merriment that could thaw out the coldest of hearts.

Whether you’re looking for shopping opportunities or activities to get you in the Christmas spirit we can point you in the right direction.

Lets start with Santa because let’s be honest, without him, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas.

Christmas Events Bristol

Santa

If seeing Santa at a local shopping centre isn’t floating your boat, you’re in luck. The big man seems to have upped his game and can be found in connection with every type of venue and transport you can imagine.

He’s in the usual grottos and winter wonderlands from Weston Pier to Tyntesfield as well as sharing breakfast and tea with families and hanging out with animals around the county.

Not only will he be travelling by sleigh but if boats, trains or helicopters are more your thing, he’s got you covered.

Christmas Ideas Bristol

Christmas Markets

Bristol is the perfect place to find gifts from independent sellers, festive food (and plenty of festive drinks too) and an atmosphere that makes you want to skip along the street full of goodwill to all men.

Walk away from the computer and online wishlists and you’ll find the perfect present that everyone will love but they didn’t even know they wanted.

Pick the right day and you can mooch around all of the markets just pausing for long enough to talk to the people who have made the products and refill your cup with mulled wine.

One of the best festive events in Bristol, and a firm favorite of the West Country Games team, is the Christmas market, located in the centre of Bristol from the 10th to the 24th December. With wooden chalet style stalls, homemade crafts and German foody treats, it wont take too much imagination to feel like you are miles away and surrounded by snow.

The appropriately named St Nick’s market is an amazing place to go any time of the year, again an opportunity to support independent retailers selling almost anything you could need and making sure you don’t go hungry while you’re there. Add in an extra Christmas market which is open from the 13th December until Christmas, catering for the more organised shopper to the last minute Christmas Eve crew and you’re in the right place.

If you’re putting in the hours at the weekend rather than a quick pop to the Christmas markets in your lunch break, the Harbourside Christmas Market is a great place to go. 45 stalls under the bustling Covered Walkway will be selling their wares every weekend from the 25th November up until Christmas Eve. Of course, there will be live music and once again a plethora of food and drink and Bristol festive fun.

Also keep an eye out for pop up shops and smaller markets, including those at; The Island, Colston Hall, and The Architecture Centre to name but a few.

Xmas Events Bristol

Festive Fun

You’ve finished your Christmas shopping and been to see Santa and it’s only the middle of December, let’s check out what else you can do in Bristol to keep up the Christmassy vibes going.

It’s time to make the most of the chance to ice skate in Bristol again.

In Millennium Square there’s something for all the family; a fair, the Big Wheel, ice skating and not forgetting an Apres Bar to snuggle up in afterwards. The ice rink will be there from the 18th November until the 16th January so could even be a fun activity between Christmas and New Year with visiting family and friends.

At this time of year it is also home to the Spiegeltent. As the name suggests, it’s a tent but no festival pop up job, it is a huge round tent with carved panels and stained glass windows, hosting Christmas parties, masquerade balls, baby discos and lets not forget, Santa.

If you are looking for something out of town, Santa’s Enchanted Ice Castle at the Mall might have what you’re looking for. That is if you are looking for Santa, light displays, train rides and ice skating all in a Winter Wonderland. You’ve got until Christmas Eve to see Santa and the 7th January for all of the other shenanigans.

For an escape from the city, take a trip to Westonbirt Arboretum. Wrap up warm and wander through the trees to see a magical light display along the trail. While you’re there, there’s a Christmas Village, Father and Mother Christmas and a choir.

Just thinking about all that Bristol has to offer over the festive period makes me wish that it could be Christmas every day..! Happy Christmas one and all.

Bristol’s best Pubs

bristol pubs
bristol pubs

The best pubs in Bristol

Who doesn’t like a traditional pub? They’re part of British culture – so much so, they’re now woven into the fabric of daily life (and have been for hundreds of years). In fact, it was the Roman invasion that brought the concept of the public house to our shores.

It might have taken a while (say, a few centuries) for the pub as we know it to come to fruition, but in that time, they’ve become so much more than simply a house serving ale. Throughout time, they’ve served as places of business, social reform, diversion and in the absence of the printing press, even as the local news.

Luckily for Bristolians, the city isn’t short on traditional Bristol pubs, many of which also serve delicious food and fabulous ales. Here are just a few of Bristol’s first and foremost pubs.

bristol pubs

Bristol’s oldest pubs

There’s some debate over the title for oldest pub in the city, with several contenders vying for first place.

The Hatchet Inn claims to have been established around 1606, and is named after the woodsmen of Clifton Wood. It’s stood the test of time, and now offers a range of delicious pub grub, as well as a tasty pint.

Another contender for the title is the Llandoger Trow, built in 1664. With its stunning Tudor exterior set on the sunny cobbled street in the heart of the city, it’s a great option for those warm, summer days. The Bristol pub is also steeped in history; legend has it that the Llandoger Trow was a favorite drinking spot for the infamous privateer Blackbeard, as well as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

A third contender for the title is The Rummer, just off of St Nick’s Market. Dating back to 1241, The Rummer’s flagstone floors and huge fireplace act as visible reminders of the pub’s longstanding history. It now boasts its own micro distillery, brewing batches of aromatic gins and spiced rums that you can sample in the bar (along with a plethora of other spirits).

bristol pubs

The Steam Crane

This Bristol Pub is located south of the river in Bedminster, The Steam Crane is pretty hard to miss. Its elaborately painted exterior depicts an olden day nautical scene, while the interior décor aligns to a more traditional pub theme, with sprinkling of modernism.

Leather armchairs somehow blend seamlessly with the traditional fireplaces and wooden bar that you’d expect from a traditional British pub. There’s a wide variety of beer, ales and wine available, and the food comes highly recommended by locals and visitors alike.

It’s great for larger groups, so if you’re planning a Bristol stag weekend, then the Stream Crane is a great place to start your celebrations.

bristol pubs

The Albion, Clifton

A rather swish take on the tradition British pub, the Albion is a very popular haunt in the heart of bustling Clifton village. Dating back to the 17th Century, the building has been expertly renovated and designed with impeccable taste.

It’s a winner for all seasons; lazy summer afternoons fly by in the ample courtyard garden, while winter Sunday lunches have to be experienced by the comfort of a roaring fire and accompanied by a delicious glass of red.

Although it might not be one for the budget conscious, The Albion is certainly a must for those who want to enjoy their pint in more upmarket surroundings. The food menu is seasonal, the ingredients impeccable quality and the dishes, reassuringly traditional. There’s literally something for everyone, one of our favourite Bristol pubs.

bristol pubs

The Jersey Lily

As far as Bristol pubs go, The Jersey Lily is young, fun and full of character. Situated on lively Whiteladies Road, the pub enjoys a relaxed atmosphere, which attracts a mixed – yet equally welcome – crowd. The food is award-winning; sourced from local suppliers, you can sink your teeth into a huge variety of scrumptious snacks and dinners.

From tapas to share to Sunday Roasts, there’s literally something for everyone on their extensive menu. If you’re more interested in the drinks menu, then you won’t be disappointed.

There’s a huge selection of wines for all tastes on offer – as well as cocktails. And if live music is up your street, make sure you check out the live acoustic on Thursdays, while you and a friend sip on two delicious craft cocktails, for the price of one.

bristol pubs

Amoeba, Clifton

If you’re a cocktail connoisseur, then you’ve found mecca. Nestled on a quiet Clifton street, Amoeba’s bright red exterior and candle-lit window makes it stand out on dark, winter nights.

Once you’re inside and had a chance to peruse the extensive cocktail menu, it’ll start standing out for a host of other reasons. Perhaps it’s the exotic collection of mixes, spirits and drinks on offer, or the expertise in which the staff guide you through the menu. Or it could simply be the incredible flavours of the ingenious concoctions, or relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

The venue also offers free event hire – a great choice for Bristol hen weekends who want to be based in and around Clifton village.

Private Dining Bristol – Bristol’s best private dining restaurants

Private Dining Bristol
Private Dining Bristol

Best Bristol private dining restaurants

So, you’ve got your night out sorted and your daytime activities down to a tee but now you need think about food. There’s plenty of choices when it comes to dining out but when you’re planning a Bristol hen weekend to remember, a standard dinner reservation isn’t going to live up to the rest of your plans.   To help you find something special, we’ve rounded up some of the best private dining experiences in and around the city.

Private Dining Bristol

Racks, Clifton

The ever-popular Racks is often touted as ‘Bristol’s best party destination’ and there’s plenty of reasons why. It could be the free venue hire, the bar stacked with some of the best gins in England or the mouth-watering menus. We think that it’s a combination of all three.   Racks can cater for up to 200 people although the venue is split into a variety of spaces, each with its own character and original features. Fancy trying some of those fine gins? Make the evening extra special and take part in one of their tasting masterclasses. Gin not your tipple of choice? They offer an ale tasting session too. Either can be booked as part of a private dining package or separately.

Private Dining Bristol

No.4 Clifton Village, Clifton

No.4 is set in the heart of Clifton Village and we guarantee the bride-to-be will love this stylish dining destination. It’s the perfect venue for a sophisticated evening soiree. With two fantastic rooms available, the venue is ideal for hosting either smaller, intimate parties or larger groups and if you’re planning a summer hen weekend, their idyllic gardens are perfect for dining al fresco.   They’ll also serve you the best Pimm’s you’ve ever had (take our word for it). Their menus will leave you spoilt for choice and, with a team dedicated to helping you plan your party, what you’re going to eat is the only choice you’ll have to worry about.

Private Dining Bristol

Hotel du Vin & Bistro, City Centre

If you’re looking for nothing short of luxury when it comes to private dining then Hotel du Vin should be top of your list. With a variety of rooms available to hire, they each exude a unique sense of charm and character. This venue has an extra special treat in store for smaller parties too at the Sommelier’s table.   Start your evening with champagne and canapés upon your arrival before being treated to a sumptuous five course menu with wines matched to each. There’s even an expert to talk you through each one. It’s not just dinner, it’s a truly is a unique dining experience and an evening you’ll never forget.

Private Dining Bristol

The Albion, Clifton Village

In the heart of the village lies The Albion, a historic venue that first opened its doors in the 19th century and has become a firm favourite. It’s a perfect blend of classic and contemporary and the menu, as well as the venue itself, pays homage to its history with a nod to the new.   The private dining room on the first floor can host up to 30 people and the menu has something that everyone will love. From the freshest fish, the finest cuts of meat to desserts that are to die for, The Albion is guaranteed to provide you with good food, good wine and a good time.

Private Dining Bristol
The Jetty, Corn Street, City Centre

With architecture to leave you awestruck and a lively yet relaxed atmosphere that makes everyone feel at home, The Jetty will leave any bride-to-be feeling like a princess. The multi-award-winning restaurant boasts a Sansovino inspired banking hall for those looking to host large parties (it seats up to 300) as well as several more modestly sized dining rooms for occasions that are a little more low-key but just as special.   Before the day, the restaurant team will work with you to create a bespoke menu which will be complimented by their selection of fine wines and eclectic cocktail list. All you’ll need to do is sit back, relax and have the time of your lives.

Book ahead

We know that dinner can be a bit of an afterthought when you’ve already put together an exciting itinerary but it’s definitely something that you need to plan. Why not use it as an excuse to plan something special for the bride-to-be?   Private dining can be a formal affair or a casual gathering.   Either way, it’ll turn an unforgettable weekend into an extra special occasion. After all, you are celebrating.

Take a chance on Weston – The glamorous gran of the West

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend
Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Take a chance on Weston – The glamorous gran of the West

You have been entrusted to organise a hen party for your best friend. This seems a simple enough task except the hen wants to keep costs down. This will mean that flying to one of Europe’s hot spots is totally out of the question, especially so with the current exchange rates.

 

Basically you will have to look a little nearer to home and be at the mercy of the British climate. That said, finding somewhere fun for the hen weekend shouldn’t be an issue as there are numerous destinations that cater for hen parties.

 

You could follow the party crowd to Newquay, Newcastle or Brighton, or you could try somewhere a bit different that offers a seaside atmosphere, but is also within striking distance of a number of outdoor activities to keep the girls entertained.

 

With no further ado, let me introduce you to the number one seaside hen party destination in the west of England, Weston-super-Mare!

 

Don’t let the critics of Weston (and there are a few, quite a few actually) put you off. We are talking about a town that has a ‘glamorous grandma’ feel about it.  Yes she has seen better days, but there is still life in the old girl yet.

 

Life’s about taking a chance, so take a chance on a Weston-Super-Mare Hen Weekend.  What’s the worst thing that can happen (apart from the hen choking on her scampi)?

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Getting to Weston Super Mare

Couldn’t be easier! Trains, planes, automobiles. No problem! It’s on the main London line and easy to get to from nearby Bristol Temple Meads.

 

The nearby summer car park, otherwise known as the M5 motorway passes close to the town. You could even fly to Bristol airport if you are coming from further afield. It might even work out cheaper than the train. Bristol airport is actually very accessible to Weston.

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Accommodation in Weston

Lots and lots to choose from. The budget concious bride-to-be will love you. Weston is as cheap as chips. It also has cheap chips too, and scampi! Seriously though, all budgets in Weston are catered for and there are some lovely little traditional B&Bs near the beach, which is where you want to be right?

 

As per usual, it pays to book as far in advance as possible. Weston can be booked out solid during the silly season.

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Activities in Weston and surrounds

In Weston itself the main activities would centre around the beach and pier.

 

The historic pier is certainly worth a few hours of the girls time. There are lots of fun and games that are not just targeted at children. It’s so much fun that it might even keep the thirstier hens out of Wetherspoons, for a while anyway.

 

There is a £15 entry fee that some people find a little on the steep side, possibly due to the fact that in Weston you could be thigh high in chips and prosecco for considerably less.

 

With a traditional British seaside pier there is always the chance of winning back your entry fee. There are the penny slots and bingo. Hang out with those wise old blue rinses and it might just be your lucky weekend!

 

If you are prepared to take a trip out of Weston then you could sample the nostalgic delights of an ‘It’s a Knockout’ themed games. West Country Games are located nearby towards Bristol and offer a fun filled couple of hours which will likely be the most memorable event of your Weston super mare stag & hen weekend.

 

In fact the West Country Games experience might even be more memorable than the wedding itself! They cater for groups sized from 8 to 30 or more. If you are under 8 in numbers, they can still offer you the games experience, but you’ll need to pay for 8 places.

 

Perhaps after the more active stuff you could take the girls out for traditional afternoon tea in one of Weston’s many tearooms. The areas you need to head to are Grove Park, Ashcombe Park and Clarence Park. Think of it as somewhere to go that offers a little ‘calm before the storm’ wind down action. Cake is also a nice way to line those stomachs too!

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend
Weston Super Mare at night

There are plenty of places to eat in Weston and all budgets are catered for, well perhaps not a Saudi prince, but the girls will no doubt be full and happy!

 

There are the usual brand restaurants like Prezzo and Pizza Express. Weston also has a large number of independent places too, after all, the crowds still flock to the old girl for their summer holidays.

 

Of course you cannot leave Weston without sampling some of the best fish and chips in the world! What kind of hen party would miss out on a fish supper?

 

As for drinking, there are lots of pubs and clubs which are usually quite busy on Fridays and Saturday nights. We are also talking about cheap drinks here. This is not Monte Carlo, but don’t let that put you off.

Winter Wedding Stag & Hen Weekends in and around Bath

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath
Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Winter Wedding Stag & Hen Weekends in and around Bath

Everybody wants a stag or hen weekend they’ll never forget (if they can remember it in the first place). But when it’s cold and the winter weather threatens to dampen the party spirit, how do you go about planning the perfect Bath hen weekend or stag do?

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Talk to the guest of honour

There tends to be two types of people when it comes to winter: those who don’t mind the cold and carry on as usual and those who, if human hibernation was an option, you wouldn’t see for six months of the year.  This being the case, it’s important that you plan something that your stag or hen is going to enjoy. There’s no point in planning an outdoor adventure if they live in fear of frostbite through the winter months.

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Planning a brilliant Bath stag weekend in the winter

If you’re planning a Bath stag weekend as your stag’s final weekend as a single man, you’ll be spoilt for choice whatever the weather. If you’re looking for something active and exciting, we can provide you with an unforgettable afternoon as you compete in West Country Games. We move indoors for the coldest months too, so even if your stag gets the shivers at the thought of being outside, we’ve got you covered.

 

Heading into the evening, if you fancy a flutter you can hit the casino or, if the stag is game for a laugh without being the laugh himself, comedy clubs often attract established and up-and-coming talent throughout the year. Don’t forget to feed the party. The city has a wide selection of gourmet eateries and high-street restaurants so whatever appeals to your appetite, Bath has you covered.

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Planning a winter wonderland Bath hen weekend

There’s plenty to do in Bath during the winter months that will keep your whole hen party entertained and give the bride-to-be a weekend to remember. If you’re visiting in the later part of the year, the famous Bath Christmas markets are a fabulous addition to the extensive luxury shopping you’ll find in and around the city centre.

 

If your hen is more Lara Croft than Carrie Bradshaw, there’s a variety of outdoor adventures close to the city too. From zip lining to quad biking and everything in between. If she’s after adrenaline, a Bath hen weekend has you covered.

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Keeping warm and cosy

Or if you prefer to do something totally different and energetic indoors, then there is always West Country Indoor Games running from November to February in a cosy barn themed indoor space.

After your day of action and adventure or exploring the city’s designer destinations, warm up and unwind in a natural thermal water spa and finish your afternoon with high tea in the elegant and historic Pump Room. If you’re planning on partying into the night, Bath has a number of well-placed boutique cocktail bars as well as a selection of livelier clubs for you to dance the night away.

If you like the sound of this then we do recommend you head to Three Brothers for a very large burger to line your stomach beforehand! Trust us, you’ll be thanking us in the morning!

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath
Have a backup plan

If you’re planning a stag or hen weekend in Bath we can guarantee you’ll find plenty to do and the whole party will have the time of their lives. The only thing we can’t guarantee? The weather. If you are planning on doing something outdoors it’s always worth looking into alternatives just in case Mother Nature isn’t on your side.

 

And if she is, make sure you wrap up warm!

Top 5 Reasons to have a Hen or Stag party in Bristol

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do
top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

Top 5 Reasons to have a Hen or Stag party in Bristol

If some of you were lucky enough to get engaged over the festive period then this couldn’t come at a better time. We know that choosing where to have your last big bash before married life is a big decision. You will, only do it once after all. We are here to help ensure that you have the best send off possible. This is one decision you don’t want to get wrong so head to Bristol – you won’t be disappointed!

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

1. ACCOMODATION

First thing to organise for any successful Hen or Stag do is a warm bed to stagger home to after one too many drinks. Whether you are saving all the pennies for the big day or want to indulge and treat yourself, Clifton Hotels will be able to help. Choose from four hotels which cover a range of price points, The Washington Guesthouse, The Clifton Hotel, The Rodney Hotel, the Berkeley Square Hotel and luxury apartments – Berkeley Suites (if you are feeling a little indulgent).

 

With this Bristol-born, independent hotel group, you can be sure of quality customer service and a great nights sleep, if that is you decide to get any! All are able to offer discounts for group bookings which will come in handy when you need to stretch the budget to pay for another round!

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

2. ACTIVITES

No Hen or Stag do would be complete without some sort of activity that will make you all look ridiculous and keep you in stitches retelling the stories for the rest of the year. West Country Games offers just that.

 

Nine hilarious West Country inspired games, from Cider Run to Wurzel Knockout and our personal favourite, Welly Wanging. We recommend booking this nearer the start of the trip, it all look looks a bit much to tackle on a hangover; however we are sure some of you will be lad enough to take on that challenge…

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

3. BOATS

This may seem like a bit of strange one, but with the River Avon running right through the middle of the city we had to mention the wonderful array of boats you can wander onto and explore. If a civilised affair is what you have in mind, be sure to book a table at Glassboat. A delicious meal with lit up views over the river is probably just the thing to recover from a day wanging wellies. Alternatively head to Thekla for one of their infamous Pop Confessional nights if you feel up to it, where it will be guilty pop pleasures until 4 in the morning.

 

If you like the sound of this then we do recommend you head to Three Brothers for a very large burger to line your stomach beforehand! Trust us, you’ll be thanking us in the morning!

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do
4. COCKTAILS

When is comes to cocktails, this is one thing that Bristol does not take lightly. Whatever your tipple may be there will be something heavenly waiting for you in one of the many speakeasies hidden across the city. These places are strictly need to know, but we’re sure your maid of honour/best man will be up to the challenge and will be able to get hold of the information easily…no pressure!

 

Our favourites include The Milk Thistle and Red Light, (there may be a clue in the name to one of those but we’ll leave that to you). If you want to get a bit more hands-on head to The Square Club where they offer the option of not one, but two cocktail master classes to suit your specific needs.

 

Be sure to pay attention though as there will be competition at the end of the class to test your knowledge and there’s a bottle of bubbly in it for the winner!

 

Turtle Bay also needs a shout out. If you’re starting early then this one is ideal as it’s two for one on all cocktails from 12-7pm.

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do
5. BREAKFAST

When you wake up with a dry mouth and a sore head from partying a little too much the night before, craving anything and everything fried, breakfast will be King. And our vote for King of the hangover breakfast in Bristol is Racks Bar and Kitchen.

 

They serve breakfast until 10am which means you can savour a bit of extra time horizontal before attempting to stand up! Stomach the full English with all the trimmings or take it easy and go for poached eggs on sourdough with a choice of toppings.

 

With Bloody Marys on offer why not opt for hair of the dog and we’re sure you’ll be feeling ready for the day in no time!

Wassailing this winter in the West Country

wassailing bristol
wassailing bristol

Come a-wassailing this winter – in a West Country orchard

Here in these ‘ere parts of the West Country, we think cider is gert lush – and we’ll go to great lengths to make sure there’s a bumper crop of apples so there’s no shortage of our favourite tipple when yer Wassailing in the West Country!

wassailing bristol

Noisy orchard-wassailing revelry

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself here early in the new year, and your ear drums are up to the challenge, you could join in some noisy orchard-wassailing revelry.

This wonderfully weird, age-old good luck custom involves blessing our beloved apple trees in the hope this will help secure a healthy apple harvest – and a plentiful supply of cider.

It’s an ancient tradition that appears to be growing in popularity over recent years – and, since it usually ends up as a fairly lively and raucous affair, it can offer just the antidote we need to brighten a cold, damp January evening.

wassailing bristol

Singing to the trees, and generally making a racket

If you still need any further persuading that it’s a good idea to spend a chilly winter’s evening in a West Country orchard, be assured that you’ll also often find there’s some hearty West Country grub being served up to help you soak up all the cider.

The word “wassail” is said to derive from a Saxon expression, ‘Waes hael’, meaning good health. Traditionally, the apple orchard custom involved reciting incantations, singing to the trees, and generally making a racket – sometimes even firing shotguns into the bare wintry branches – all in a bid to frighten away evil spirits that might get in the way of a bountiful harvest.

The “Apple Tree Man”

Ceremonies vary from one place to the next, but they usually share a few important elements. A wassail King and Queen are crowned to lead the songs and ceremonies, for example, and the procession usually moves towards the largest, finest or oldest tree in the orchard, which is chosen to represent all the other trees.

The “Apple Tree Man” is regarded as the spirit of this tree, and to appease him the Queen places a cider-soaked piece of toast up in the bough of the tree, and pours more cider around its base. The crowd then recite an incantation:

Here’s to thee, old apple tree,
That blooms well, bears well.
Hats full, caps full,
Three bushel bags full,
An’ all under one tree.
Hurrah! Hurrah!

wassailing bristol
According to legend

Traditional wassailing songs end with a loud “Hurrah!”, and the whole event is a noisy affair, with loud gunshots and pot- and bucket-banging, just to make completely sure the spirits have got the message loud and clear.

According to legend, this is not only to scare off any evil ones who might ruin the coming harvest, but also to awaken the sleeping trees so that they bring a good supply of apples.

Meanwhile, present-day revellers enjoy the spectacle whilst tucking into traditional West Country food such as apple cake, washed down with a tankard or three of warming mulled cider – and the fun continues later into the evening with folk music, more cider, and plenty of laughter!

Our top tip...

The majority of wassailing events take place after Christmas, in January and February, with a peak in activity between 10-18th January.

Our friends down at Wilkins Cider throw on an annual Wassailing party, if you can handle yer cider then take up the challenge and get yourselves down there!

It’s Cider Making Time – West Country Style

cider making west country style
cider making west country style

Cider Making - West Country Style

Friends… Romans… Country Bumpkins, lend me your beers (and more importantly, ciders!), jump off your haystacks and come with us on a little tour of the finest drink known to man in these ‘ere parts.  Lovely, home-grown Scrumpy Cider.

Nearly half the apples grown in the UK are now used to make cider.  Thousands of orchards have been planted to keep up with the demand.  And this is the time of year farmers the land over will be harvesting their apples to make your favourite Amber Nectar.

cider making west country style

Imagine the scene, it’s a lovely sunny day, you’re reclining on a deckchair in the garden and sipping on your next pint of cider, total bliss.  But what you might not realise is that there’s a just a little bit of history and folklore that went into that gulp.

The old Somerset custom called Wassailing talks of cider being poured over tree roots to bless the trees and produce a bumper crop for the forthcoming season.  Then, (this is my favourite bit) there’s the ‘Apple Tree Man’, the spirit of the oldest tree in the whole orchard.  There’s an old West Country tale where a man leaves his last mug of mulled cider to the trees, and the spirit of the Apple Tree Man takes him straight to the buried treasure.  I mean, come on, what more incentive do you need to believe in the power of the Scrumpy?

cider making west country style

Even better news is that the best time to believe in that power is now.  Why now you may ask?  Well, this year’s cider harvest is upon us and the freshest apples are there, begging to be picked and made into cider.  In fact, it’s very easy to make it yourself and there are lots of great recipes out there.  What’s more rewarding and cheaper than pressing your own cider?

I’ve bought a cider making kit this year and have the feverish determination of a rampant Wassailer.  I’ve carefully picked the best apples from our garden and will be looking forward to the bit where I get to throw them into a big bucket and punish them with a pole.  After the therapeutic fun bits comes the waiting, the long wait.  But there is good news, if you let the cider ferment now it should allow for the best taste in time for Christmas.  And let’s be honest, what better present to receive than seeing Auntie Pat writhing on the living room floor after three pints of homemade cider and a friendly game of twenty questions?

cider making west country style

On the other hand, if you, like most sane people, just love drinking homegrown cider then there are lots of cider tours around.  Here at West Country Games, we offer a traditional tour with the best in homegrown cider without having to make any effort at all.  We’ll transport you to two countryside pubs, a cider farm (where you taste a further four ciders with a fine selection of cheese), and then get driven back to your humble abode.  Life doesn’t get much sweeter than this, even the ‘Apple Tree Man’ leading you to buried treasure sounds a bit rubbish in comparison.

If, for some strange reason I haven’t managed to sway your opinion on the humble West County cider then I feel there’s no hope left for you.  And as for you James Lavis, you’re dismissed.  Mainly because I am tired, and incredibly pissed.

cider making west country style

For almost 8 years I’ve called Bristol home and 5 of those have been spent out in the West Country Games field with a scoreboard and camera and groups of fun, feisty and often very hungover stags and hens. West Country Games sums up one of the things I love most about Bristol, there’s always something different and often slightly crazy going on.

Anyway, must go, I can hear the last track of ‘The Best of the Wurzels’ playing.

Katie has worked as an Activity Instructor, Site Manager and Event Assistant over the 5 years she’s been working at West Country Games.