Alcohol-free nights on the town

There are loads of alcohol-free alternatives to the pub for a great night out.

With many social events centered about pubs and bars, sometimes it can seem difficult to socialise without drinking. And once you're there; “I’ll just have the one” can easily become "I'll just have one more". 

But do you really want to fritter your life away in the pub?  We’ve got some great ideas for nights out that don’t centre around booze. Get your friends together and give a few a try – you'll have fun, we promise.

1. Organise an alternative party

A no-alcohol party might just go down better than you think... Why not try a pudding party, where everyone brings a different dessert they've made or bought to share? Another idea is a swap shop, where all the guests bring clothes or other items they don't want any more to exchange – a possible goldmine of new stuff.

2. Ghost walk

Once darkness falls you can find a tour of the haunted sites in most cities. Spooky, spooky.

3. Treasure hunt

There are lots of companies that will organise a treasure hunt for you and your friends. Check out for details of hunts across the UK.

4. Afternoon tea in a posh hotel

Think what you would spend on a night out in a pub and club. Now, take that money and use it to have a delicious traditional afternoon tea in a five-star hotel. OK, it’s not strictly a night time activity, but it is a great idea for an alternative birthday party on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

5. Dance

Everyone's dancing these days, and there are loads of classes in the evenings. There are unusual styles you can try too. Capoeira originated in Brazil and is in fact a martial art done to music. It is made up of fluid, acrobatic movements made close to the ground. Street dance, African dance, burlesque and improvisation are other options. For a directory of dance classes across the UK, visit Dance Schools-UK.

6. Urban sports or the green gym

There are so many sports you can do in the city these days. Parkour, which originated in France, is a way of getting around objects in the quickest way possible by climbing, jumping or vaulting, instead of just walking around them. It’s becoming very popular in the UK, and there are groups all over the country. In London, check out Urban Freeflow and in the North, visit Northern Parkour.

In London, there’s organised rollerblading every week during the summer, arranged by London Skate. Accompanied by expert skaters, hundreds of people gather to cruise round London’s streets.

And then there are the green gyms. Run by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), leaders guide you through a range of practical, outdoor projects that not only help you get fit, but also benefit local green spaces. There are tasks for all ages and abilities, and sessions usually last three hours. Check out the TCV website for more information.

7. Karaoke

Long gone are the days where karaoke meant standing on a stage in front of a packed pub; following the Japanese example, there are an increasing amount of dedicated Karaoke parlours with private booths that can be hired out by the hour for parties of different sizes. Lucky Voice has karaoke parlours in London, Manchester, Brighton, Glasgow and Cardiff.

8. Spa night

Maybe not one for the boys, but many spas are open in the evening. You’ll probably come out so relaxed and glowing that you won’t even want to contemplate ruining your zen with alcohol.

9. Ice skating or roller disco

Release your inner teenager and head down to the ice rink. A bit of exercise and a good chance of a laugh when your bambi-like friends end up on the floor. But not a drink in site. Result.

Alternatively, take a trip to your nearest roller disco. There normally is a bar on site, but let's face it – booze + skates = broken bones. Dressing up retro style is encouraged, and they're held in cities across the UK.

10. Cinema or bowling – old favourites with a difference

Obvious choices, but there are ways to spice them up. At the Cornerhouse in Manchester you can have a pizza, shop in the bookshop or take in some art, as well as catching some of the best in independent cinema.

At the Electric Cinema in London's Notting Hill they show both mainstream and art house films in an old-fashioned theatre filled with armchairs and sofas, complete with footstools and food and drinks on hand. Go to the Independent Cinema Office for lists of quirky, independent cinemas by region.

Bowling is becoming cool again. Check out the fifties style Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes in the basement of the Tavistock hotel in London. Or check out Tenpin for locations of their 37 bowling alleys from Scotland to Southend.

Page updated: March 2015