So you’re ready for your stag night. T-shirt’s printed, fiendish pranks prepared and your blood type and lawyer’s number tattooed on your bum (just in case). But one more important question: where are you actually hold the damned thing? You could go with somewhere familiar like your local pub? But that’s not that special.
There’s lots of well-known places; Newcastle’s Big Town, London’s West End or Manchester’s Gay Village. The problem is because they’re so well known, they’re incredibly expensive. Everyone knows what you’re looking for and so it all feels a bit packaged – it’s not just the girls in the lap dancing club who’ve seen you coming. And worst of all they’re packed full of other stag night parties. Which can mean a bigger sausage fest than a German bratwurst festival; unless you’re talking about a hen night and these tend to be scarier than a night of drinking games with Al Qaeda. So it’s time to take the road less staggered down and try a different stag destination.
Name a magical land where it’s for ever winter and never Christmas and the locals sought out most of their conflicts by fighting. Narnia? No. Glasgow – perpetually a bit nippy, except for a brief couple of weeks in the summer when it fills with flesh eating midges. But Glasgow has a beautiful historic city centre, an excellent transport system (they actually have the only underground outside of London; it runs all night and basically covers the city centre, perfect for a monopoly drinking game for the inebriated). And it’s reputation for being a bit rough has improved exponentially, so it’s actually quite safe for your stag night. But it’s biggest advantage is… it’s not Edinburgh. So it’s cheaper, less touristy and perhaps more tolerant for stag parties conga-ing up the high street.
Seaside locales are great for stag nights. Arcades, night clubs, bed and breakfasts, larking about on the beach at night when worse for wear (albeit swimming is strongly not recommended, if there’s one thing you don’t want to sleep with it’s the fishes). The problem is like most great ideas; everyone else has had it first. Which is why you don’t want to go to Brighton or Blackpool; but maybe you should try Margate? One of the seaside resorts on the Kent coast, that time seemed to have forgotten.
Margate has been a recipient of large amounts of Lottery cash to bring it up with the times. Mainly it would seem because it’s the home of infamous dirty bed artist Tracy Emin. Fortunately she doesn’t live there. But it’s led to Lonely Planet voting Margate the 7th best place to visit in the world, ahead of New York and Paris. Though this may prove that Lonely Planet voters should wash more and smoke less dope. For the stag it means a lovely mix of upscale clubs and restaurants. Alongside good old fashioned rough pubs, clubs and kebab shops; and all this with all the fun of the English seaside.
Belfast is one of the world’s oldest cities, but thanks to its complex history it’s been a little forgotten. And then overshadowed by Dublin in the south. But Belfast has a real sense of character and has benefited hugely from investment over the last decade. It has a great city centre, clubs and none of the plastic paddy, blarney business that spoils so much of the rest of Ireland. It’s a city that knows who it is, and if you’re really not sure the stag’s making the right decision. Where better to tell him than the city that launched the Titanic?