Bar and pub events: 20 game and activity ideas

Looking for a way for your bar or pub to stand out from the rest whilst increasing your footfall? Your business could benefit from hosting regular activity nights. Bar and pub events have increased in popularity in recent years, with consumers looking to try out new experiences on their evenings out. While enjoying a quiet pint or a cocktail with friends is a time-honoured tradition, incorporating exciting events like games and activity nights can create even more memorable experiences for patrons.

Whether you're still in the process of setting up your bar or pub and looking to get ahead on event planning or you’re a seasoned pub owner, Mitchell & Cooper’s comprehensive guide is here to inspire you with 20 ideas for pub events. Read on to discover a myriad of games and activities ideas to elevate the atmosphere of your establishment and customers patrons coming back for more.

Why host pub events?

Pub and bar activities have multiple benefits, for both yourself and your customers. One of the main advantages of hosting events is increasing custom on event nights. Whether it's a themed night or a fun activity, events create buzz and excitement that can significantly boost footfall, especially on quiet weeknights. If your pub events are well promoted through signage and social media channels, you will likely see an increase in customers visiting your venue. This makes pub events particularly beneficial in typically quieter periods in hospitality, such as the typical post-New Year’s Eve slump.

Not only can hosting events attract more customers, but engaging activities provide patrons with reasons to stay longer, which in turn can lead to higher sales. Events such as tastings or competitions can also generate additional income through ticket sales or increased food and drink orders. Plus, if your events are a success, you may see an increase in your number of regular customers as a result. Pub events are a great way to foster a sense of community among customers, encouraging them to build relationships with you and your staff and make them more likely to return often.

In today's competitive market, standing out from the crowd is essential. Hosting unique and exciting events can help you set your bar or pub apart from the competition, potentially even making it a go-to destination for those looking for entertainment options on their nights out.

Pub and bar game ideas

If you’re looking for some pub entertainment ideas to attract more customers, a great place to start is with pub games. The competitive nature of the games is sure to be appealing to a number of patrons, plus you can even offer a prize for the winner to sweeten the deal. Below are a few less common pub game ideas to try out in your establishment.


Bingo is a timeless game for all ages that never fails to entertain but often isn’t hosted in a bar or pub setting. So, for a truly unique pub event idea, why not set your establishment apart from the rest by hosting your own bingo nights? Transform your premises into a bingo bar for a night, complete with bingo cards, an entertaining host, and exciting prizes.

If you’re looking to push the boat out even further, you can even add a twist to the usual bingo set-up. For example, consider themed bingo nights such as music bingo or film bingo, where song titles or movie quotes replace traditional numbers.

Pub quiz with a twist

Quizzes and trivia nights have long been beloved bar and pub events, and you may well have even hosted a few of your own. However, if you’re looking for something a little different there are a number of ways to give your quiz a unique twist and elevate your trivia night. Here are some creative ideas to help you host a pub quiz with a twist that your customers will love:

  • Themed quizzes: Instead of sticking to general knowledge questions, why not spice things up by hosting themed quizzes? Choose a theme that resonates with your audience. For example, pubs with a millennial crowd could host a 90’s, Friends, or Harry Potter-themed quiz. Themed quizzes not only add a fun twist to your usual questions but can also attract fans who are passionate about the chosen topic.
  • Interactive rounds: Incorporate fun interactive rounds to get customers even more invested in the quiz by engaging them in different ways. For example, you could task patrons with building a tower of cards throughout the quiz and give bonus points at the end to the team that has the highest tower.
  • Speed quizzing: Shake up the traditional trivia format by introducing speed quizzing, where teams have a limited time to answer each question. Use smartphones to facilitate rapid responses, allowing teams to earn bonus points for correct answers within the time limit.
  • Local themed rounds: Within your pub quiz, include themed rounds that focus on your area to appeal to local customers. For example, you could have a round dedicated to local history or notable people from your neck of the woods.
  • Audience participation: Get the whole pub or bar involved by including rounds that allow for audience participation. Whether it's asking the audience to vote on answers, shout out responses, or participate in mini-games between rounds, involving the entire pub creates a lively and interactive atmosphere.

Board game competition

Board games are a staple of many pubs, being an ideal way for customers to pass the time whilst enjoying a tipple. So, why not use them to your advantage with this pub game idea? Invite patrons to enjoy some friendly competition by taking part in a board game night. Provide a selection of classic and modern board games, ranging from longer options such as Monopoly and Scrabble, to shorter games like Guess Who and Operation.

This is a great way to attract more customers to your establishment for the evening, plus you can charge a small fee for taking part in this pub event to make a little extra cash. To encourage patrons to take part, consider offering a free round or other prizes for the longest game, the most creative strategy, or the highest score in each board game.

Arcade games

Arcade game bars have surged in popularity, with many popping up in towns and cities across the UK. Take this popularity to your advantage by having an arcade games night in your pub or bar. Set up machines featuring classics like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, or Street Fighter to attract punters. For added excitement, host gaming tournaments or offer prizes for high scores.

While buying the machines outright may be a stretch for your budget, there are a number of businesses dedicated to renting out these classic game machines on a short-term basis. You may want to hire an arcade game or two just for an evening. However, if you want to hold onto them a little longer, you can turn your retro gaming event into a week-long extravaganza to pull in even more customers.

Pub Olympics

When looking for ideas for pub events, a simple source of inspiration is the entertainment options you already have in your establishment, such as dartboards, snooker tables, and ping pong tables. Use what you already have and add a few other simple challenges to host your own pub or bar Olympics. Have customers form teams and take part in various challenges. As well as using what you already have in your pub and bar, such as dart boards, you can incorporate other challenges which don’t require any tools or equipment, such as arm wrestling, thumb wars, and who can stand on one leg the longest. If you have a pub garden and you host the event in summer, you can make the most of this by hosting some outdoor activities too, such as an egg and spoon race or a three-legged race.

Bar and pub activity ideas

It isn’t just competitive pub games that can increase your footfall: there are a variety of fun bar and pub activities to appeal to an even wider range of patrons. Here are some popular pub and bar events ideas to entice new customers and keep them coming back for more.

Cocktail-making classes

Looking for a fun and interactive bar activity for patrons to try whilst promoting your own drinks menu? Try enticing patrons to learn the art of mixology by offering cocktail-making classes. A professional bartender can demonstrate techniques and recipes, allowing participants to recreate several classic recipes, as well as design their own custom cocktails.

Invest in premium quality cocktail equipment, including cocktail shakers, muddlers, and mixing spoons, or get all the essentials in one go with a cocktail making kit. Not only will opting for high-end equipment give your customers the best experience, but it will enable you to host cocktail classes on a regular basis in the long term. If you plan on hosting the events regularly, you can provide variety by offering themed classes focusing on specific spirits or cocktail styles each month.


Combine creativity with socialising and drinks by hosting a paint-and-sip pub or bar event. This is a great activity to offer for customers looking for something relaxing and lowkey. Host your paint-and-sip pub event in a well-lit space and provide those taking part with canvases or acrylic paper, paints, and brushes, along with step-by-step guidance from a local artist. Guests can enjoy drinks from the bar while unleashing their inner Picasso.

If this becomes a regular event, you may want to select a different painting theme each time to keep things fresh and exciting. Choose a theme that is approachable for participants of all skill levels and that complements the vibe of your pub. Popular themes include landscapes, still life, abstract art, or seasonal motifs.

Book club

Transform your bar or pub into a literary haven by hosting a book club. This is one of the more simple bar activities to plan, as all you have to do is choose a book to read over a set period and invite customers to gather and discuss their thoughts over drinks. You may also want to consider offering themed cocktails or food menu items inspired by the featured book to enhance the experience, such as an orange-based cocktail for Wuthering Heights or an afternoon tea spread for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Wine and beer tastings

Educate and delight your customers with wine and beer tastings at your bar or pub. This is a great opportunity to not just attract more customers with a fun bar activity, but to allow those taking part to sample your menu and find their new favourite. You can also partner with local breweries and wineries to showcase their too products, offering samples paired with expert commentary on flavour profiles and brewing techniques.

Consider themed tastings to appeal to different tastes and offer something new at every event. There are a variety of themes to choose from, such as hosting an IPA night or sampling wines from a specific region.  

Remember that when it comes to wine and beer-tasting activities, less is more. For wine tastings, each serving should be around 2oz, while for beer tasting you should serve around 4 to 6oz per beer. Make sure you have the right thimble measures in stock so that everyone gets the same amount.

Viewing parties

If you have televisions in your establishment, a viewing party could be a great bar activity for bringing more customers in without breaking the bank. You may already have watch parties scheduled for major sports competitions, like the Six Nations or the Euros, but there are a wide range of other events you can view in your pub which can attract an even wider audience. You can host a viewing party for pretty much anything you like, from major award shows like the BAFTAs or the BRITs to finales of highly popular TV series.

Set up large screens or projectors to ensure everyone gets a good view and offer food and drink specials related to the theme of the viewing party. You can even encourage audience participation with trivia games, prediction contests, or themed costume contests to enhance the excitement and engagement of the event.

Seasonal activities

You can host a variety of pub and bar activities all the way throughout the year as there are plenty of seasonal events to celebrate with your customers. From summer BBQs and outdoor festivals to cosy winter gatherings with mulled wine and festive treats, there are endless opportunities to embrace the spirit of each season and create memorable experiences for your customers. Consider incorporating seasonal decorations, menu specials, and entertainment to enhance the ambience and appeal of your events. A few seasonal pub entertainment ideas to try out include:

  • Valentine’s speed dating
  • Easter Egg hunts
  • Mother’s Day and Father's Day lunches
  • Bank holiday BBQs
  • Bonfire night celebrations
  • Events for St Davids Day, St Patricks Day, St Georges Day, and St Andrews Day

Bar and pub theme night ideas

Looking for something even more creative? Theme nights are a fantastic way to inject excitement and fun into your bar or pub, plus they can be a great way to promote your food and drink to customers. Here are five pub theme night ideas you may want to try out in your establishment.

Sport event themes

Almost any pub with a television will show major sporting events, so it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. To make your event one to remember and capture the excitement of the sporting atmosphere, turn your sports viewing party into a themed event. Encourage customers to come in their sports gear, whether it’s a football kit for the World Cup or tennis whites for Wimbledon.

Decorate your venue with team colours and memorabilia, offer drink specials on game nights, and create a couple of cocktails especially for the event. Consider hosting themed trivia quizzes or prediction contests to engage sports enthusiasts to add an extra layer of excitement to the event.

Movie nights

Pub theme nights don’t have to be for a particular event, like a major sporting competition. If you’re looking for a theme night to fill in the quiet periods, a movie night could be the perfect fit for your pub or bar. This can be an especially good pub event for the winter months when customers prefer to stay cosy indoors than sit out in the pub garden. There are so many different approaches to hosting this event, from appealing to movie buffs by watching cult classics to giving your wider customer base something to look forward to by showing blockbuster franchises.

Set the mood with themed decorations and snacks, and then screen the featured film on large screens or projectors. Encourage patrons to dress up as their favourite characters and offer themed cocktails or menu specials inspired by the movie.

Dress for the decade

Step back in time and immerse your pub or bar in nostalgia with a "Dress for the Decade" theme night. This is one of the most popular pub theme nights as there is a variety of periods to choose from. You can invite customers to don their finest attire from any era, from the roaring twenties right up to the noughties. More recent periods may be particularly popular with younger crowds who have nostalgia for this time, while older patrons will likely prefer older themes, such as the swinging sixties.

As well as encouraging fancy dress, go all in with your theme by playing music from the chosen decade and decorating your venue accordingly. You can also offer themed cocktails inspired by popular drinks of the era, as well as popular foods from the decade, such as prawn cocktail for a 70’s celebration.

Masquerade party

If you want to push the boat out even further for an elaborate pub or bar event, why not host your own masquerade party? A masquerade theme night is a great way to add an air of mystery and glamour to your bar or pub. It’s an extravagant event making it the perfect option if you’re looking to enjoy a big celebration, such as for New Year’s Eve or the anniversary of your establishment.

Invite guests to don classic masquerade masks and attire for an evening of intrigue and sophistication. Create a magical atmosphere with dim lighting, candles, and live music or DJs. Go all out by whipping up some elaborate speciality cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, and make sure to keep the champagne flowing. And since everyone will be dressed to the nines, why not hire a professional photographer for the evening? Not only can the customers pay them for a photograph but you can use pictures of the event to post on social media to drum up interest for your next big theme night.  

The latest pop culture craze

Stay on-trend and appeal to the zeitgeist with bar and pub theme nights inspired by the latest pop culture phenomena. Whether it's a themed party or quiz based on a popular TV series, video game, or the musician of the moment, tapping into current trends is a great way to attract a young crowd eager to immerse themselves in the latest craze.

For example, if you’re hosting a themed night based on a popular artist, you can create a playlist of their most popular songs to get customers in the mood for the event, as well as decorate your venue with relevant imagery and references, and offer themed cocktails or menu items. For the big fans you may also want to incorporate interactive elements such as trivia quizzes for participants to put their knowledge to the test.

Charity night ideas for pubs and bars

If you’re looking for ideas for pub events to attract customers whilst giving back to your community, a charity night could be the perfect activity for your business. Not only do these events raise funds for important causes, but they also foster a sense of camaraderie and goodwill among customers. Here are some charity night ideas you can try in your pub or bar to impress your guests and do some good.

Host competitions for charity

One exciting idea for a bar event which can raise money for charity is to host competitions at your pub or bar. This could be any of the bar and pub games ideas we’ve suggested, such as a quiz night or a pub Olympics, or something completely different, like a karaoke contest or a pool tournament.

Raise money for charity by charging an entry fee for each customer. You may also want to leave a donation box on the bar for guests to give more if they are able to. To incentivise participation and ensure you get a great turnout at the event, consider offering prizes for the winners to encourage friendly competition.

Charity school disco

Nostalgic pub night ideas are some of the most popular, so they can be a great way to raise some cash for a good cause. And what’s more nostalgic than taking a trip down memory lane with a charity school disco night? This playful and light-hearted event is sure to appeal to customers of all ages while raising funds for a worthy cause.

Encourage patrons to dress up in their best school uniform and dance the night away to nostalgic tunes. You may also want to set up a photo booth with props like oversized glasses and chalkboards for added fun, and of course serve up a selection of school cafeteria classics, like chocolate concrete and cornflake tart.

Murder mystery nights

Give your customers the chance to play detective for a night with a charity murder mystery event. A murder mystery night is sure to be a really unique and memorable experience for your customers, plus these nights are not often hosted in bars or pubs, making your establishment stand out from the rest. 

To plan this event for your pub or bar, partner up with a local theatre group or collaborate with a professional company to stage an interactive murder mystery performance. Encourage guests to dress in costume and immerse themselves in the storyline as they attempt to solve the mystery. As this is a more extravagant pub or bar charity event, you can charge higher ticket fees, making this a great option for those who want to make as much money for their chosen charity as possible.

Be part of a charity pub crawl

If you’re looking for charity night ideas in a pub that get the whole community involved, why not join forces with other local pubs and bars to organise a charity pub crawl in support of a worthy cause? This is a great way to not just raise money for charity and increase your footfall, but to get to know the owners of other businesses in your area too.

Participants can purchase tickets that entitle them to drink specials at each venue, with a portion of the proceeds donated to charity. Incorporate fun challenges or scavenger hunts along the route to keep things lively and engaging.

After reading this guide, you should have a selection of ideas for pub and bar nights to keep your regular entertained, as well as make some new ones. Whether it's classic pub games, creative bar activities, or pub and bar themed nights, these pub events ideas will no doubt impress your guests and leave them wanting more.

Make sure you’re ready for your next big event by exploring Mitchell & Coopers’ selection of drinks essentials. From bar accessories and appliances to cocktail equipment, wine accessories, and spirit measures, we’ve got the essentials you need to make your evening a success. Offer food at your pub? We also stock a range of kitchen appliances, kitchenware, and cooking and bakeware which may interest you.

Looking for more advice on all things hospitality? Make sure to check out our other guides today for guides to UK licencing law, essential cocktail tools, and more.