Hen and stag parties don’t have to revolve around beer or fizz. We round up some fun things to do that educate, entertain, encourage you to get active – or simply chill out!
Words by Judy Diamond
Ginger Valentine is Scotland’s newest vintage entertainer. If you’re planning a hen party for your best friend, Ginger will put together a bespoke vintage dance workshop perfectly tailored to your needs. She knows what she’s doing too, having trained in contemporary dance and with a first-class honours degree from the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance. Book one of her classes in burlesque, jive, swing or charleston and you’ll soon get into the swing of it. Classes last from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and cost from £10 to £20 a head, based on a minimum of six participants.
The Auchrannie Resort, near Brodick on the Isle of Arran, is a great place to head with your hens to get away from the stress of planning a wedding. Here you’ll find two four-star hotels, three excellent restaurants, two leisure clubs with pools, a spa and an outdoor adventure centre. But it’s the 30 luxurious five-star self-catering lodges that are perfect for a girlie getaway. These sleep up to eight for as little as £40 a head, depending on your package, and you have access to the rest of the resort’s fabulous facilities. Combine your stay with a treatment at the deeply relaxing ASPA, and you’ll head home, ready for anything!
01770 302234, www.auchrannie.co.uk
Unleash your creativity by decorating ceramics – it’s not just a fun way to spend a couple of hours with your hens, you’ll also end up with some unique mementoes to take home. Doodles, based in Edinburgh, supplies the paint, brushes and blank crockery, you just have come up with the laughs. Bring wine and nibbles, order in a pizza, or tuck into cakes (Doodles will happily lay on tea and coffee) as you paint.
Edinburgh’s Electric Circus is well known as the place in the capital for karaoke, but did you know it also offers private dance lessons? Classes last for 90 minutes and cost £30 per person, and you can choose from a huge range of dances, from individual songs such as Beyoncé’s Single Ladies to burlesque, ’80s classics, and much more. You’ll get a glass of bubbly on arrival, a complimentary hour of karaoke after your class, and free entry to the nightclub later.
0131 226 4224, www.theelectriccircus.biz/dance
THE ROVING FROMAGIERIE
Hen dos can be cheesy sometimes, usually thanks straws in the shape of male anatomy and Auntie Helen attempting the Slosh (while sloshed). Let The Roving Fromagierie show you how to do cheese – properly. Chief cheese-meister Phoebe Weller can come to your house or party location laden with an array of fromage for you to taste and talk about. You’ll soon know your Pecorino from your Stilton!
If your hens are a sporty bunch (or are just trying to shed a few pounds so they’ll fit into their bridesmaid dresses!), a group spa package at the plush Westerwood Hotel and Golf Resort outside Glasgow might be just the thing. Starting from £99 a head, the package offers an overnight stay, breakfast, lunch and dinner and a choice of spa treatments, as well as access to the health club’s pool, jacuzzi, gym and sauna. Larger parties will also get free drinks and extra discounts.
01236 457171, www.qhotels.co.uk
Want the ultimate adrenaline rush, without compromising on comfort? Here’s a package that combines the two: a wild day out abseiling, climbing and tackling an assault course at Ratho, followed by relaxation and luxury at Edinburgh’s Nira Caledonia Hotel. The two-night package includes breakfast both days, dinner one night, champagne and transfers to the climbing centre from the hotel. It costs £350 a head based on a party of eight.
0131 225 2720, www.niracaledonia.com
MADE BY CRAFT PARTIES
Save a few quid on the cost of decorating your reception venue by getting your hens to make the bunting. Made by Craft offers lighthearted yet informative classes across Scotland in all sorts of craft-making skills, from saucy knickers to stylish fascinators. You can even book an instructor to host the party in your own home. From £19.95 per person.
0131 510 0029, www.madebycraftparties.com
WILD ROSE ESCAPES
If you fancy a complete break from the stress of wedding planning, you’ll love a Wild Rose Escape. The company runs craft, wild cooking and relaxation holidays in the wilds of Inverness-shire. If the rewarding activities don’t take your mind off your to-do list, the stunning scenery surely will. Flexible packages for hen parties can include pony-trekking and yoga, and you can even bed down in a giant ten-person tent (luxury accommodation is also available!). Prices from £150pp for the weekend.
07765 173029, www.wildrose-escapes.co.uk
POLE DANCING SCOTLAND
Pole dancing might not be something you ever thought you’d do in front of your future mother-in-law, but more and more hen parties are giving it a twirl. Pole Dancing Scotland, based in Inverness, has been offering classes since 2007, with the combo of getting dressed up, having a few drinks and flinging your inhibitions aside proving a winner.
07958 452410, www.poledancinginscotland.co.uk
ABC LEISURE BARGES
Hello, sailor! Okay, it’s not the high seas, but navigating the waters of the Forth & Clyde canal could be the perfect way to spend a stag weekend. Hire a canal boat and set sail from Falkirk with your merry crew, heading either to Glasgow or Edinburgh. The boats are all hand-made and individually designed, and come with fully equipped kitchens, central heating and bedding. (Each boat can carry a set number of passengers, but you could always hire two boats if need be.) Dressing up as Captain Jack Sparrow, Popeye the Sailor or Sinbad is, of course, entirely up to you.
0330 3330 590, www.abcboathire.com
PERTHSHIRE OFF ROAD
Ask the average man if he’s a good driver and it’s extremely unlikely he’ll say no. Well, here’s his chance to prove it! Perthshire Off Road lets you try your hand at driving Land Rover Discoveries, quad bikes and even eight-wheel all-terrain vehicles across 1200 acres of the Highlands, over muddy, rough ground, up challenging hills, down steep descents and through deep water. Tailor-made packages range from £40 to £110 per head, depending on the activities and vehicles, but the most popular package for groups costs £75pp and includes four different activities over three to four hours. It’ll certainly separate the men from the Sunday drivers!
01738 851185, www.perthshireoffroad.co.uk
Fancy a flutter? A visit to Shawfield Stadium in Rutherglen, just outside Glasgow, is a safe bet for a fun-filled, inexpensive night-out. Combine a meal in the on-site restaurant and a few drinks in one of the four bars with the exciting greyhound races that are held every Friday and Saturday night. If you’re really lucky, you might just scoop enough winnings to treat your fiancée to a seriously special spa session – or perhaps just another round for you and the boys!
0141 647 4121, www.shawfieldgreyhounds.com
CLUNY CLAYS SEGWAY
From its base in 80 acres of lush Fife countryside, Cluny Events runs a formidable array of outdoors events, such as golf, archery and clay pigeon shooting. It also offers the chance to have a go on a segway – those peculiar-looking electric two-wheeled ‘personal transporters’ that you control simply by tilting your body in whichever direction you want to go in. Your posse of stags can zoom across the Cluny estate on these hi-tech machines, then follow the ride with a spot of target practice or a round of golf. The clubhouse has a full food menu to refuel with afterwards.
01592 720374, www.clunyclays.co.uk
IT’S A KNOCKOUT
Ever watched Total Wipeout as some poor schmuck slithers off the Big Red Balls for the tenth time and thought to yourself, “I could do that”? Well, now’s your chance. Chilli Sauce’s ‘It’s A Knockout’ is a similar sort of wet and wild obstacle course where you can join forces with your pals (or compete against them!) to conquer the challenges in hilarious fashion. Expect to be laughing so much that you can’t actually run, though! It’s on offer in various locations including Newcastle, London and Brighton.
The Ice Factor styles itself as the country’s coolest venue – and it’s not kidding. Sitting between Ben Nevis and Glencoe means it gets more than its fair share of the nation’s annual snowfall, but even in summer it’s pretty chilly here – thanks to its awesome indoor ice-climbing wall! You have to see it to believe it: 500 tonnes of real snow and ice towering 50 feet high – and you can climb it. There’s also loads of other things to try, such as rock climbing and an aerial adventure course. Stag parties will have a whale of a time at this award-winning venue (consistently voted one of the top visitor destinations in the Highlands), with half-day packages costing £50.
01855 831100, www.ice-factor.co.uk
BEAR GRYLLS SURVIVORS
A Stag Survivors’ Weekend sounds like something you’d take in powdered form to ease the DTs, but it’s actually a pretty fantastic opportunity to learn the secrets of Bear Grylls’ survival skills. Sign up for the course and you and your stags will be camping out in self-built shelters in the Brecon Beacons (training ground of the SAS) and learning how to make fire and build rafts. There’s also a four-day package at Dartmoor that includes a helicopter flight.
Everyone knows Skye is a beautiful place, but having your own personal guide will let you see it through new eyes. The Skye Ghillie knows the island inside out and will show you where to catch wild salmon, spot a golden eagle or swim in a secret loch. Wilderness camping can be arranged (or try the luxurious new B&B called Canowindra just outside Portree). A million miles away from your typical booze-fuelled stag do, you’ll come home refreshed, revived and ready for anything.
01470 532690, www.skyeghillie.co.uk, 01478 613 640, canowindraskye.co.uk