Christmas may be close, but not everyone wants to frolic around in Christmas jumpers, photocopy their butt cheeks and dress up like a sexy Santa (we’re looking at you Kevin). Even if they do, we all need a little light, or even dark, relief now and then from the baubles, tinsel and festive cheer. If you’re planning a Christmas night out or looking ahead to the New Year then don’t follow the crowd, let us help you do something different. We’ve sifted through the glittery shit, beyond the festive cliches to seek out alternative and quirky nights out in London that could spice up your Christmas.
1. Orange is the New Black: Prison Cocktail Bar in London
If you’re bored of the standard drinking experience then Alcotraz, a high security prison that’s hiding an alcoholic secret, might get your juices flowing - literally. This immersive theatrical cocktail bar inspired by the infamous Alcotraz challenges you to smuggle in your favourite tipple. Donning an orange jumpsuit you need to make your way past the guards and find the warden, who has a selection of homemade syrups, juices and bitters from his previous life as a barman. He’ll mix you up some cocktails with your favourite tipple.
Open Thursday to Saturday tickets for this experience are £30, which includes your prison pack for the duration of the sentence, minimum 4 cocktails from your smuggled liquor of choice + 1 hour 45 minutes inside the prison.
2. Immerse yourself in a load of balls at Ballie Ballerson
Everyday we are surrounded by people talking a load of ball, so why not spend your evening frolicking in them? We know what you’re thinking, the last thing you need is another night out clubbing with a bunch of dicks, but we promise you’re gonna love the balls that fly at you at Ballie Ballerson, the ultimate adult playground. There’s ball waterfalls, ball pits, UV twisted balls - so many balls.
Moving on from the ball innuendos, this new Shoredtich venues promises to provide visitors with nostalgic hedonism and unparalleled instagram opportunities. Covered with a 70 metre glowing UV mural twisting around three ball pits, there’s also an extra deep VIP pit for those serious about their balls or a private pit on the street. If this place doesn’t have you ‘balling’ with laughter then we don’t know what will. Got time for one more innuendo? Course we have. Don’t do the same old pub crawl next weekend, grow a pair and head on over to Ballie Ballerson where balls flying at you is not only a given, it’s celebrated.
3. Victorian immersion at The Hope and Piano Works in Farringdon
Farringdon just got interesting. Especially if you love getting your Victorian glad rags on or like to dabble in some Steampunk cosplay. You can start your night at our newest London venue The Hope, where you can enjoy some bevys at their gin bar before you’re greeted by our escape room host, Gabriel. He’ll lead you to Lady Chastity’s boudoir, which is dripping in Victorian decadence and laden with cobwebs that are hiding unexpected surprises along the way.
Solve the clues to win the wine so you can enjoy a bottle post game before you make your way to Piano Works, which is less than 10 minutes walk down the road. A music venue in a listed Victorian basement where musicians play songs by request. Beyond the thrill of a human jukebox, here you can enjoy a wonderfully bizarre cocktail menu, a hearty steak or just sing and dance into the night. Now that’s a quirky night out with a Victorian twist.
4. Dead dolls and wonky workshops in Islington
If weird and wonderful is your vibe and you don’t have an innate fear of dolls, then Islington has two alternative gems for you. One of it’s kind, our most recent game creation Poppa Plock’s Wonky Workshop is hidden in the depths of The Depot in Islington. Book a game late afternoon or early evening to kick off your night where you’ll be greeted by Wynne, the wind up doll who longs for new friends. The room is packed with warped dolls and rigged retro toys to keep you on your toes. After a good clue-solving session with us you can continue the theme by heading over to The Dead Dolls House to enjoy a night of debauchery and decadence.
From a Dalston pop-up and a brief stint at Hoxton Square, The Dead Dolls House now has a permanent home at what was once Islington's House of Wolf. Here you will find three whimsical floors of fun working your way up you can explore the Roald Dahl inspired ground floor parlour, 2nd floor library and dining room or third floor ballroom. Boasting ‘signature illustrations and a lush neutral palate with flecks of colour’ here you can enjoy some noms on their unique menu, including their Dead Dolls burger with fermented horseradish ailoi, truffled pecorino and onion marmalade or indulge in their tasty cool craft and eclectic cocktail menu.
5. Don’t just drink - dance, create and make while you’re at it
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a bar that didn’t just serve drinks, but also helped you do something? Well, there is. By day Drink, Shop & Do is a mild-mannered King’s Cross cafe and spritz bar, by night it transforms into a merry den of drinking and dancing, where guests can reconnect with their inner big kid.
They have a calendar packed with playful activities including a Destiny’s Child or Britney dance class, lampshade making workshop or, if you’re feeling festive, Christmas decoration making. The building is an old Victorian bathhouse, so the setting is decadent and quirky, just the right atmosphere to get your creative juices and your favourite drinks flowing. It's free to get in before 10pm and party ’til 2am and if you are hanging the next day you can return for their infamous brunch with unlimited bagels, ‘hair of the dog’ booze and board games all day.
6. Quench your saucy thirst at Hester’s HideOut
Is it just us or is Farringdon hiding away some real quirky night out gems lately? Not only do you have our epic escape room at The Hope and Piano Works (the human jukebox), you can also find Hester’s Hideout, a subterranean and sexy retreat hidden below the notorious Exmouth Market. A decadent den rich in history where you can sip on cocktails as you immerse yourself in the amazing talents of the surrounding burlesque dancers, musicians and performers who will entertain you into the early hours.
A bit of history for you. The venue was previously-named Clerkenwell Tavern and the guv’nor let his basement become the hot post for market workers who liked a wager or shady deal to conceal their trades from the prying eyes of drinkers upstairs or bobbies on the beat. Fast forward to today and the space is now hailed as an ‘immersive cabaret and cocktail destination’, but the history hasn’t been left behind. Mixologists prepare vintage recipes left by the traders, alongside modern, molecular tipples that arrive smoking and bubbling to the table.
Ready to get your quirk on?
There are so many quirky nights out in London to explore, we hope this has helped you dip your toe in the waters so you can be less ‘basic’ and more experimental for your Christmas night out or New Year plans. If you’re planning on taking your other half out then you might also enjoy having a gander at our blog with some great creative date night ideas or you can find out more about our escape games here.
What are you still doing staring at the screen? Get your mates together and go get your quirk on at one of these weirdly wonderful hotspots.