Visiting new places, trying out new experiences, and getting gently sozzled with friends: at Stylist, these are a few of our favourite things. Luckily, this autumn is a great time to combine the three.
Whether you want to spend the night in a London gin distillery, help gather the grapes at a rural Welsh vineyard, or try all of the martinis at a Leeds cocktail festival, here’s our pick of the best boozy activities to book right now.
1. Have a sleepover in a gin distillery
As well as a specialist gin shop and bar, London distillery Portobello Road Gin already plays host to the ‘Ginstitute’: a teeny-tiny gin museum where you can make your own mother’s ruin, indulge in samples, and learn about the spirit’s “long and, at times, miserable” history. In December, however, they’ll also be opening their doors as a boutique hotel – so you can roll straight from bar to bed.
Prices TBC. portobelloroadgin.com
2. Go wild at a wine theme park
The much-anticipated La Cite du Vin (“the city of wine”) opened in Bordeaux, France in June. Billed as the world’s first wine theme park, the distinctive ‘whirlpool’ design of the 10-storey building was intended to echo the flow of wine from a bottle. Among the attractions in its 20 themed areas are immersive 3D vineyards and a holographic banquet chamber, as well as expert tasting sessions, an immersive wine history course and a panoramic restaurant.
There’s also – of course – a wine bar, stocked with over 50 types of vino. Bordeaux itself is beautiful and generally enjoys mild weather in the autumn, making it the perfect place for a mini-break.
Tickets €20pp (£17.13), including the cost of a wine tour. laciteduvin.com
3. Enjoy Oktoberfest in East London
Oktoberfest, a German folk festival celebrating all things Bavarian and beery, has been held in Munich for over two centuries. But recent years have seen other cities getting in on the action, and several Bavaria-themed booze-ups will be touching down in London this autumn. Our pick? Oktoberfest East at Oval Space, which will be artfully disguised as an Alpine Hall from 28 September to 8 October (you’ll never guess you’re in Bethnal Green).
Glug real Oktoberfest bier, tuck into a feast provided by cult dining collective the Art of Dining, and dance to tunes provided by the Hackney Colliery Band and Oval Space DJs.
Tickets start at £15pp. oktoberfest-east.com
4. Reap the rewards of the grape harvest at a vineyard
You can stay in one of the boutique hotel suites at Llanerch Vineyard all year round. But the best time to visit this wine estate in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales is at the end of October, when the annual grape harvest kicks into gear.
In return for helping pick the grapes, guests are treated to a dinner of traditional Welsh cawl (a hearty lamb soup, one of the country’s national dishes) and wine from the vineyard, before getting down to live music from a local band. You can also enjoy cookery classes and self-guided vineyard tours, and choose your accommodation from two suites in the main farmhouse, eight rooms and an apartment.
From £80pp for 1 night B&B. llanerch-vineyard.co.uk
5. Go cock-a-hoop for cocktails in Leeds
On the evening of Friday 14 October, leading mixologists from 13 of Leeds’s best cocktail bars – including The Alchemist, Pintura and The Botanist – will be taking up residence at Aspire on Infirmary Street for the glitzy Leeds Cocktail Experience. Guests will have their preferred poison shaken and stirred into existence in three themed rooms – so whether you like a classic concoction or fancy trying out something a little more unusual, there'll be something to your taste.
Tickets start at £15. thecocktailexperience.co.uk