The traditional British stag has evolved beyond recognition in recent decades, with Britons now spending more than £300m a year on the event.
For your dad and granddad, it may have been little more than a night in the pub, but today, it can mean anything up to a week away, at home or abroad, and often an unforgettable life experience. But it doesn’t have to mean a regrettable day-long drinking session and broken-down buses.
And, though he’s had his moments in the past, it’s unlikely we’ll witness Prince Harry carrying a blow-up doll around on his send-off before he ties the knot with Meghan. Of course, a stag do is what you make of it – and if a quiet night at the pub is your thing then we won’t stand in your way – but we’re no longer prepared to accept the cliché. Here’s our alternative stag party guide for those looking for something a little extra.
There’s no shortage of destinations on home turf, whether you’re seeking an intimate cultural experience or exploration of the great outdoors. If it’s the former, then there are few better ways to kick-start the celebrations than with a spirit tasting in the company of experts.
The Whisky Lounge in London offer private events ranging from a Beginner’s Guide Tasting to a Blending Workshop. They can even host trips to distilleries and regions of interest to combine your tasting with an adventure into the unknown.
Whether it’s whiskey or rum, wine or champagne, and whatever UK destination you had in mind, you’re certain to find no shortage of options. For something a little less intense, a tour of the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire, can be combined with a countryside or camping getaway to create a great stag package.
UK cities like Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool are also hugely popular destinations for stag dos, but you can capture your guests’ imaginations, while delivering the same urban buzz, by heading elsewhere.
Norwich offers a good bar and club scene, while being on the edge of the Norfolk broads, while, in the heart of the West Country, Bristol can also help you combine the best of urban and rural over two days.
Heading abroad for a stag does need not mean re-mortgaging your house to fund a week-long trip to Vegas, or fist-pumping your way through a debauched weekend in Magaluf.
Much like at home, you can craft your trip to suit you and your budget. Although Barcelona is usually top of the list for excursions to Spain, the nation’s capital city, Madrid, offers an extra layer of modernity, and for many Britons remains an undiscovered gem. It stands toe-to-toe with Barcelona on culture, too. There’s history all around you, including the Royal Palace, the Matadero Gallery and the post-modern Caixa Forum, while rooftop drinks at Circulo de Bella Artes offer you the opportunity to take in iconic views of the city.
Throw in bars like Del Diego, for cocktails, or The Gin Room, for something a little more straightforward, and your diverse Madrid stag really starts to take shape.
But if you’re looking for something truly out of the ordinary, the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, is another exceptional option. From whitewater rafting, to sea kayaking, to glacier hikes, to exploring the island’s geothermal pools and hot springs on a Golden Circle trip, Iceland offers an experience unmatched. Temper your experience by bolting on a guided bar crawl or explore the city’s pubs and clubs yourself. We recommend Skuli Craft Bar and Bravó nightclub.
At home or abroad, your stag do should reflect your tastes. This isn’t paint-by-numbers, and while there are some great package deals out there, it’s often just as easy and cost-effective to build the experience yourself. Don’t settle for the cliché – seek out inspiration, and fuse culture with clubbing, or wildlife with whiskey.
Just promise you’ll leave the novelty wigs and matching t-shirts at home.
It may not feel like it while you’re out there, but it’s important to remember that the stag is simply a pre-cursor to something far more special.
And when wedding day arrives, make sure you’ve got the suit to match the occasion. From a classic tonic to a colourful tweed, Ben Sherman has got you covered. Our slim-fit Mod-inspire two and three-piece suits will help you make a style statement, whether it’s for the groom or the best-man.