Stag and hen parties are the traditional way for a soon-to-be-married couple to mark the end of their singleton lives. The advent of cheap air travel has helped make stag and hen weekends (and even weeks) a modern phenomenon, almost single-handedly reviving the tourist trade in some European cities.
With their reputation for rowdiness and lewd antics however, these dos have got a bit of a bad name in recent years, even leading many hotels and venues to ban single-sex groups.
So Happy Together
Enter the HAG – the combined stag and hen party that is bringing a more civilized feel to the pre-marital proceedings. Traditionalists might scoff at the thought of stags and hens partying together – after all, isn’t this supposed to be the opportunity for the groom to sow his wild oats one last time, and for the hen to consider if her fiancé really is the one?
Maybe, but there are several very good reasons for embarking on a HAG. For a start, there’s that civilizing effect of having a mixed group. The happy couple will already have many friends in common, and so it’s a great way to bring all your buddies together. Plus, going away as a large group can be much more economical, particularly if you rent self-catering accommodation and block book activities.
The best thing about a HAG party is that you don’t have to conform to any daft rules about what a stag or hen party has to do. The idea here is to indulge in activities that are fun for everyone, so don’t get hung up on strip clubs for the boys and spas for the girls, unless everyone agrees that’s what they want to do. Here are some suggestions for a HAG do that won’t break the bank.
Dubbed London by the sea, Brighton has the charm of an old-fashioned seaside resort combined with top-class shopping, great restaurants, and more bars than you can shake a stick at. Take to the Brighton Wheel (1) for outstanding views of the South Downs and the Channel.
If you like your days by the beach to be more adrenaline fuelled, check out the UK’s surf capital of Newquay in Cornwall. Camping is a great budget way to enjoy Newquay’s charms.
Barcelona is a dream HAG destination, and for something a little different, why not embark on a treasure hunt (3) that will reveal more of this stylish city to you and your party.
Feel the heat in Iceland in the geothermal pools (4) dotted all around the capital of Reykjavik. Lean back and enjoy the extraordinary landscape from your hot spring.
Go off the beaten track and go mad for Vlad in Transylvania (5). Made famous by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the spookiest part of Romania is an undiscovered gem that’s cheap to get to, and has very affordable accommodation.
And then there’s always Amsterdam, Europe’s perennially popular stag do and hen destination. Canals, cafes and culture are only part of its charm, but it’s also a wonderfully romantic city where you can charter a canal cruise boat (6) to let everyone feel the magic of Amsterdam.