Imagine this: You walk into a pub and see people participating in activities, and having loads of fun. You smell delicious food, hear upbeat music, and feel the pub’s vibe grab you by your hand and pull you in. That’s what happens when pubs start hosting events.
Events can transform your pub from a place to grab a pint to a place where people form unforgettable memories.
But how do you come up with event ideas that will impress your patrons, match your pub’s theme, and outshine the competition?
In this article, we will share some of the best event ideas for pubs in 2023 that you can take inspiration from.
What to know before planning a pub event
You need to know exactly who is attending, what their interests are, and how you’ll be reaching them—before you begin planning the event.
1. Understand who frequents your pub
According to Statista, around 53% of adults in England said they go to pubs, bars, or clubs in their free time. The most frequent pub-goers were those aged 25 to 44, with 59.3% of them visiting such places.
To determine your pub’s audience, begin by asking yourself these questions:
Are you located near a college campus making your average audience age much younger?
Or is your clientele predominantly young professionals seeking a winding-down spot after work?
Or is it older and more family-centric?
Does your audience enjoy sports or do they lean more toward live music?
Gaining insight into what makes your patrons tick, is the key to a successful pub event. This research can be conducted through informal conversations, questionnaires, or just by observing the most popular activities in your establishment.
2. Align the event with your audience’s interests
Once you have a good understanding of your pub audience, it’s time to use this knowledge to design irresistible events. Take note of the hobbies and preferences your patrons hold dear, and build events around these passions.
The key is to create ongoing events that celebrate their shared interests and keep them coming back for more.
For instance, if your audience consists of sports aficionados, plan game nights with seasonal fantasy leagues, or organize competitions with sports-themed trivia nights.
For example, Molly’s Irish Grille & Sports Pub regularly host music nights that keep people coming back to their pub.
If you have an audience who frequents your pub for its relaxed vibe, you may want to try an event that’s on the calmer side—like wine tasting.
The idea is to infuse your patrons’ interests into the very essence of each event.
3. Push your event with some marketing
With the knowledge of your audience and their interests, you can decide what kind of event you need to host.
But you need to put the event in front of as many potential patrons as possible. Here are a few points to get your ideas flowing.
Multi-channel approach: Reach out to potential attendees through social media, flyers, newspaper ads, email newsletters, and more. If you’ve been in the business for a while, you’ll likely have customer contact data that you can leverage too.
Collaborate locally: Form partnerships with local businesses, artists, or entertainers who embody the spirit of your event. Bringing them all together will also help merge the audiences giving everyone involved, an increase in the number of customers.
Shareable content: Create eye-catching posters, funny videos, or interactive quizzes related to the theme that can generate buzz on social media. The goal of every promotional activity is to get your users to talk about the event.
Encourage word-of-mouth: Turn yourself towards your trusted regulars. Offer them additional discounts for bringing friends and family. Incentivize your patrons to spread the word. Even a couple of free shots can make a big difference in getting the word out.
Weave a storyline: To truly elevate your event, craft an intriguing narrative or storyline that sparks curiosity among potential attendees. For example, if you’re hosting a spy-themed night, design a series of posters and social media posts introducing a pretend top-secret mission that requires the skills of your patrons. Encourage them to dress up, adopt their best espionage personas, and join in on an evening of mystery and excitement.
Communicate early and often: Start promoting your 3-6 months in advance to build anticipation and give patrons plenty of time to plan their attendance. Maintain excitement levels by regularly posting updates, teasers, and behind-the-scenes content in the lead-up to the big day.
Use testimonials: Share videos of your previous events, ask your previous attendees to share testimonials on social media, or even record a testimonial when the event has just ended.
If you plan to sell tickets, ensure that the ticketing experience is seamless. We want customers to complete their registration or purchase instead of leaving midway. An app like Evey Events can make selling tickets from your site super easy. Just install the app, set up your event details, and you’re ready to go.
You can also track attendance by scanning QR codes that are added to customer’s etickets. Evey also has a mobile app to make the scanning easy for anyone with a smartphone to do.
Give your customers a branded ticketing experience and manage attendees right from your website with Evey.
Top event ideas for pubs
When it comes to event marketing in the pub industry, it’s all about creating a sense of excitement and belonging among your patrons.
They should perceive your pub as a place where they can unwind, let loose, and be entertained, all while forming lasting connections with fellow patrons. Here are some ideas to keep your pub’s event calendar popping:
1. Trivia nights
Undoubtedly, one of the most popular and successful recurring events for pubs is trivia nights. Why? Trivia nights cater to the competitive spirit, and participants have the chance to showcase their knowledge, impress peers, and ultimately bond. Plus, it keeps them thirsty and buying more drinks!
The Clubhouse Pub regularly hosts trivia nights with exciting prizes and snacks. It’s one of the many events that are regularly held here creating a sense of community among the students.
Popular trivia themes
The key to a thriving trivia night is to always keep things fresh and exciting by mixing up the theme each week.
This not only challenges the regulars but also attracts new customers with niche interests. Here are some popular trivia themes that are sure to be a hit:
Pop Culture: Cover the latest movies, TV shows, and music trends to reel in a younger, trend-savvy crowd.
Sports: Cater to die-hard sports enthusiasts with questions about famous athletes, match stats, and sports events.
History and Geography: Appeal to worldly, history-loving patrons with questions about iconic landmarks, events, and locales.
Themed Nights: Consider dedicated themes like 90s nostalgia, Harry Potter, or Friends to connect with fans of specific fandoms.
2. Live music nights
Introducing regular live music nights creates an unrivaled energetic atmosphere that entices patrons to let loose and have a good time. Supporting local talent and creating an unforgettable musical experience can be your pub’s claim to fame.
House of Brews is a live music venue with food, drinks, and entertainment—all under one roof.
Sourcing local talent
Finding the right performers for your pub depends on three factors: your target audience, the pub’s theme, and the type of vibe you want to create. Here are some tips to find the perfect local talent to grace your stage:
Attend open mic nights or indie concerts to scout potential performers
Use social media and local music forums to discover and connect with artists
Partner with a local music school or community center to tap into their network
Seek recommendations from patrons, other musicians, or event industry peers
3. Themed food and drink nights – indulging palates and wallets
Themed food and drink nights are another brilliant way to increase footfall and keep patrons coming back for more. By keeping a variety of these events, you can cater to everyone’s tastebuds. Here are some real-world ideas from Monday to Friday to take inspiration from.
On Mouthwatering Mondays, offer a selection of unique and delicious gourmet burgers, paired with an enticing special on craft beers. The below food fest was organized for Four Seasons bringing in large numbers of people and businesses to their venue.
The creative, mouthwatering flavors of these burgers and the vibrant, diverse world of craft beers are sure to be a winning combination that will kick off your patrons’ week on an enjoyable note.
This classic-themed night has stood the test of time. A selection of tacos paired with drink specials keeps the pub buzzing on Tuesdays. Taj Restaurant, located in NY regularly hosts Taco and Tequila Tuesdays. They make it even more unique with a twist of “unlimited margaritas” for $50. Try a similar offer and see people crowd your bar for yet another drink.
Tip: Create a fiesta-like atmosphere, complete with eye-catching decorations, themed cocktails, and a live Mariachi band to exceed expectations.
Offering an extensive range of wines and perfectly crafted charcuterie boards will ensure a smooth mid-week flow of guests. Some pubs have an audience that prefers the calm of a winery. Bortodoor is one of them. They host Wine Wednesdays offering blind tasting sessions, wine trivia, and more making it for a fun yet calm night.
Tip: Encourage patrons to deepen their palate knowledge with guided wine tastings, sommelier-led pairings, and promotions on lesser-known wine varietals. By subtly transforming your pub into a wine-lovers paradise, you’ll build a loyal and enthusiastic clientele.
Building on the anticipation for the weekend, Thirsty Thursdays provides the perfect opportunity to draw in a young and vivacious crowd. Pulqueria is a restaurant and bar located in New York that hosts Thirsty Tuesdays and Thursdays—a rebranded Happy Hour. Give your patrons a break from having to think about how much they drink!
Tip: Offer discounted drink specials, such as happy hour promotions or two-for-one deals. Also consider partnering with a local DJ to provide an upbeat soundtrack for the evening.
Capitalize on the excitement and relief of the work week coming to an end with Fabulous Fridays – a night that entices people to unwind, socialize, and prepare for the weekend festivities ahead. This example is of Casa Events. While not a pub, it’s an excellent example of how their Disco Fever Fridays transform a place.
Add to that their offer of the Fabulous Five, where a free champagne bottle is given for every 5 people someone brings with them—and you know you’re going to pull in a crowd.
4. Pairing food and drink specials with your event theme
Another way to keep your pub’s event calendar dynamic is to combine your regular events, such as trivia or live music nights, with tailored food and drink offerings.
Amadeus Nightclub hosts Latin Nights that bring together Latin culture, food, and music together for a completely different experience in the club.
You can also do themed nights on fictional characters like Harry Potter night. On Harry Potter-themed trivia night, serve a Butterbeer-inspired cocktail, or on live music nights, offer appetizers and drink pairings tailored to the performers’ genre. Think “Bourbon and Blues” or “Craft Beer and Indie Acoustic” – the possibilities are endless!
5. Sports Viewing Parties
Sports viewing parties provide a valuable opportunity for pub event marketing, as they appeal to diverse audiences and can be organized around various sports events — from football and rugby to tennis and Formula 1 races. Since these sports events are quite regular, your pub can be the spot where people come to watch them together.
To create an attractive atmosphere for your patrons, plan themed decorations and drinks for each event, and consider organizing a raffle where guests can wager on game results with prizes to be won.
These elements can help build anticipation and create a sense of community among your guests, as well as being a great way to keep your customers entertained during breaks or after the games.
Maximizing Screen Visibility and Seating Arrangements
To make your sports viewing parties a success, it’s essential to pay special attention to screen visibility and seating arrangements. Here are a few tips to help you optimize these elements:
Invest in Large Screens: To create the perfect viewing experience, you may want to have multiple large screens strategically placed throughout the pub. If you do not wish to purchase a screen, go for a bright projected display.
Optimize Seating Arrangements: Make sure there’s ample seating for your expected turnout, and consider rearranging your furniture to provide the best possible vantage points for the screens. Depending on the size of your pub and the layout, you might even invest in some tiered seating or high bar stools to maximize visibility.
Maintain a Clear Line of Sight: Avoid placing any tall decorations, plants, or other visual obstructions near the screens to maintain a clear line of sight. Make sure to double-check sightlines from each area of the pub, ensuring that every seat offers a good view of the action.
Use Table Reservations: If you’re expecting a high demand for your event, consider implementing table reservations. This allows your customers to confirm their attendance in advance, giving you better insights into the expected number of guests and ensuring you can plan the space accordingly.
6. Unique and Special Event Ideas
Let’s move to the once-in-a-year pub event ideas. Step up your pub’s game by offering a distinctive lineup of events that will keep patrons engaged, entertained, and eager to return for more. With the perfect blend of tradition and originality, you’ll be crafting a memorable experience that patrons won’t soon forget.
Seasonal and Holiday Events
Embracing the change of seasons and holidays throughout the year can help keep your pub’s event calendar fresh and appealing to patrons. Here are some unique seasonal events that you can host at your pub.
Christmas in July: While Christmas parties are a must during December, why not also celebrate halfway through the year with a Christmas in July event? Deck your pub out in Christmas decorations and host a festive evening with holiday-themed drinks, food, and music. You can even run a special promotion where patrons receive a discount for showing up in their best “ugly” Christmas sweaters.
Summer Solstice BBQ: Host an outdoor barbecue event in honor of the longest day of the year. Invite local chefs or grillmasters to showcase their skills and serve up tasty samples. Create a unique drink menu featuring refreshing summer cocktails, and of course, don’t forget the sunscreen and lawn games.
Winter Icewine Festival: A winter-themed event can add a touch of sophistication to your pub. Collaborate with local wineries to host an evening exploring icewines, known for their sweet and concentrated flavors. Pair these wines with an exquisite menu of food options tailored for the season, and create a warm atmosphere with fireplaces, twinkling lights, and cozy throws.
St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
A pub’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration can go beyond just offering green beer. Get creative and host an event that captures the spirit of the holiday while offering a fun and engaging atmosphere for your patrons:
Irish Whiskey Tasting: Curate a selection of premium Irish whiskeys for an exclusive tasting event. Provide an educational experience by having a whiskey expert explain the production processes, aging techniques, and flavor profiles of each whiskey. You could even pair each whiskey with small bites of perfectly paired Irish fare.
Pot of Gold Scavenger Hunt: This interactive event encourages patrons to search for “gold coins” hidden throughout your pub. The coins can be redeemed for various prizes, including drink specials, discounts, and small giveaways. Not only will this get customers moving around and exploring your venue, but it also provides an entertaining way for people to win fun prizes.
Celebrate Bavarian culture and brews by hosting an Oktoberfest event at your pub. With these tips, you can ensure this event is both authentic and enticing to your audience:
German Food and Beer Pairings: Invite a local chef to prepare a menu of traditional German dishes, such as pretzels, bratwurst, and schnitzel. Pair each dish with a German beer or local craft brew inspired by traditional German flavors. Providing descriptions about each pairing can enhance the tasting experience and allow your patrons to better appreciate the flavors.
Live Oompah Band: Music is an essential part of Oktoberfest celebrations. Hire a live Oompah band to perform traditional Bavarian tunes and add an energetic vibe to your event. Encourage costumes, dancing, and even a yodeling contest for an immersive and unforgettable experience.
While you’re planning these events, don’t forget to use Evey Events to organize and sell tickets to these celebrations at your pub. Evey helps make it simple and seamless for pub owners to manage event promotions and ticket sales, all from their website.
7. Charity Events and Fundraisers
Pub events can also serve as excellent platforms to give back to the community while keeping guests entertained. Charity events and fundraisers in pubs not only boost foot traffic but also help create a positive image for the pub. Let’s dive into the world of charity events and find out how you can create meaningful, high-impact events for your guests.
Partnering with Local Charities and Organizations
One of the best ways to kick off your charity event planning is to collaborate with a local charity or organization that aligns with your pub’s values. By choosing a local cause, you highlight your commitment to supporting the community and providing guests with a meaningful connection to their hometown.
Here’s a photo taken at a charity event called Brighter Opportunities For Special People (BOSP) at Harry’s Bar. The cause brought in a large pool of participants who attended and donated in the event.
To select the right charity partner, consider reaching out to local groups making a difference in your area, such as animal shelters or food banks. Advertise your partnership and ensure that your guests are aware of how their attendance will contribute to a good cause.
Pub owners can also sell tickets for these fundraisers straight from their website using Evey, making it simple and efficient for both organizers and attendees.
Sell tickets to your next pub event right from your website. Offer a branded experience to your patrons.
Examples of Successful Pub Fundraisers
Now, let’s explore some captivating event ideas that have proven to be successful in the pub setting.
Charity auctions: Auctions are a tried-and-true way to raise money for a cause while ensuring a night filled with excitement and competition for your guests. You can request donations of items or experiences from local businesses or even tap into your patrons’ talents. Using Evey, you can easily sell tickets to your charity auction right from your website. Oh, and don’t forget to have a charismatic auctioneer to make the night even more enjoyable!
Benefit concerts: Live performances and concerts always attract a crowd, making them the perfect platform for a fundraiser. Local musicians or bands, who are also proponents of the cause, will often be eager to perform if it means helping their community. This collaboration will not only provide quality entertainment for your patrons but also raise awareness and funds for an important cause.
Trivia nights-cum-fundraiser: Fun, engaging, and competitive—a trivia night revolving around a specific theme or charity can be a brilliant way to fundraise. Charge an entry fee for each participant or team, and encourage friendly competition with a prize for the winning group. Include themed rounds and facts about the cause to heighten guests’ awareness about the charity.
8. Interactive Entertainment
Creating successful pub events is all about engaging with your audience and offering them unique, memorable experiences. Interactive entertainment caters precisely to that, by allowing your hosts and customers to actively participate, laugh together, and bond over shared experiences. Let’s explore a variety of interactive events that are sure to captivate your pub-goers:
Laughter truly is the best medicine, and comedy nights offer the perfect opportunity to bring your patrons together for a fun-filled evening. Cafe the Crown shows how comedy nights can attract and keep your patrons entertained and be good for business.
By hosting local comedians and even encouraging your patrons to take the stage for an amateur open mic night, you can create genuine camaraderie while supporting local talent.
Bonus tip: Partner with a nearby comedy club to bring in professional comedians for a high-quality, exclusive event.
People love to sing, whether they’re good at it or not. Karaoke nights provide a judgment-free zone, where patrons can step out of their comfort zones and shine on the stage, wooing their friends and strangers alike with their musical talents.
Space Karaoke Bar & Lounge at NYC hosts regular karaoke nights. People can pick up the microphone and sing their favorite tunes, or take part in singing battles. The bar also offers a variety of food and drinks, so that patrons can keep their energy levels up for the night.
To elevate your karaoke nights, consider theming it (such as 80s hits, movie soundtracks, or boy bands) and offering fun prizes for the best performances.
A classic pub staple, pub quizzes, or trivia nights, have stood the test of time, as they bring friends and strangers together for a battle of wits. Hosting a weekly pub quiz can bring in a consistent crowd, and by choosing various themes (pop culture, local history, sports) or letting your customers suggest themes, you keep the content engaging and fresh.
For example, Waxies is a pub in NYC that hosts weekly pub quiz nights. They alternate between different categories, such as music, television, and sports, and offer a prize to the winners.
With pub quizzes, you can create a sense of community and camaraderie with your patrons bringing in a regular crowd. If you include a prize for the winners, it can even become a competitive event that customers look forward to every week.
9. Tasting and sampling events
With the ever-growing appreciation for craft beverages and unique culinary experiences, tasting, and sampling events are perfect to draw a more discerning and adventurous crowd. Here are three different tastings you can host to cater to a wide range of preferences:
Craft beer tastings
Bring your customers face-to-face with local brewers by organizing a craft beer tasting event that features different breweries or focuses on a specific beer style (i.e., IPAs, stouts, sours).
Like the offerings from City Brew Tours (image above), provide expert guidance alongside the tasting to educate customers about different styles and nuances of craft beer.
To make the event a success, provide food pairings, like charcuterie and cheese, and help customers appreciate the complexity of each beer.
Indulge your patrons’ inner wine connoisseurs by hosting a wine and cheese night that explores perfect pairings. Bring in a sommelier or a wine expert to guide the event, curating a selection of wines alongside local cheeses that complement each other beautifully.
For example, consider a selection of Italian cheeses, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Taleggio, and Gorgonzola, alongside a variety of wines. Walk them through the process of preparing wines, what makes each wine different, and how they can distinguish the wines apart.
At the end of the night, offer guests a chance to vote on their favorite wine and cheese pairing. The winner can receive a special prize, such as a bottle of the winning wine or a gift certificate to a local wine shop.
Whiskey and spirits tastings
Delight your customers with a trip through the world of spirits. Host an evening dedicated to whiskey or other spirits, allowing your guests to sample a range of products from around the globe.
For example, Saratoga Living hosted a Whiskeys of the World event where guests try rare and exclusive whiskeys from around the globe. The evening also included an educational component, as the host discussed the history and production process of each whiskey.
Try hosting a similar event for your patrons. Share stories behind the distilleries, offer education on tasting notes, and discuss pairing ideas to provide a night of learning, discovery, and great sips.
Breathe new life into your pub by hosting events
Your patrons thirst for more than just their favorite pint. They want stories to share, and experiences that will turn strangers into drinking buddies. Remember the gang from HIMYM? That’s what typical pub-goers are looking for
Picture a night when your usually quiet pub comes alive with the laughter of a comedy night or the suspense of a trivia showdown bringing patrons together to build a spirit of togetherness.
That’s the secret to reviving the pulse of your pub—thrilling, memorable events that will make such relationships happen. But before you get busy planning your next pub events, don’t forget the important part—ticketing. You need to know how many people will be attending your event and some information about them to help you personalize the experience.
Thankfully, Evey Events helps create a seamless ticketing experience in minutes. Simply install the app, set up your event details, and you’re ready to sell tickets from your website.
You can also create custom branded tickets with QR codes that customers can scan at your pub to confirm attendance. Evey makes the entire process of selling tickets and managing attendees as simple as it can get.
Upgrade your ticketing experience with Evey today!
So, shed the inhibitions and embrace the possibilities. The time has come for your pub to write its legend—a tale of unforgettable events that breathe new life into your pub.