From alternative cinema to late-night salons and fitness raves, fun nights out that don't require booze

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha
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Nobody forgets a hangover. The head-pumping nausea, the lack of energy and the inability to work out whether you're hungry or the toxins in your stomach need to be unleashed. 

While some of the most memorable nights in our lives have been painted by a little drink or two (or many) the morning after often leaves us with a lot of regret.

Research has shown that women in their 20s are turning their backs on alcohol in their droves. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of people who report having a drink in the previous seven days has been falling for the last eight years: 57% of women did so in 2005, but by 2013 it had fallen to 52%.

As we increasingly look towards taking care of our ourselves and treating our bodies right with healthy food and fitness, we don't always need a G&T to have fun. Thankfully, we don't have to.

From fitness raves to game board cafes and dry bars, there's a smorgasbord of fun alcohol-free nights popping up across the country. We've rounded up the best of the bunch, so that next time a friend utters the words 'Who's coming to the pub?' you can pull out this list.

Dance the night away at a fitness rave

There's nothing quite like cementing yourself onto a dance floor, throwing your arms in the air and belting out a club anthem as high as your voice box can manage. It might seem nigh on impossible without the assistance of a tequila shot, but that's not the case thanks to a new trend of sober raving.

New concepts that bring a night out to workouts are popping up across the UK. There's, Black and Light Yoga (pictured above) in London, where yoga enthusiasts dress in bright fitness gear, paint their faces and alternate between body poses and dancing all under Ultra Violet light, psychedelic decor and a pumping sound system to recreate that club atmosphere.

If you're not much of a yoga person, Clubbercise (pictured below) is a nationwide series of evening Zumba-style classes set to classic club music and complete with disco lights and glow sticks. 

"Over the years we tried various dance fitness classes but couldn't find one that played the type of music we really wanted to hear - the kind of tracks that keep you glued to the dancefloor on a night out," say the three founding friends Claire, Laura and Sarah. "Introducing disco lights to create a nightclub atmosphere seemed obvious rather than teaching the classes in a brightly lit room, people feel a lot less self-conscious in the dark and can really let go (no booze required!)"

Unwind at a board game café

Board games are no longer limited to bored Sunday afternoons and family get-togethers. Groups of working professionals regularly flock to London's first board game cafe, Draughts, in Haggerston where queues frequently build outside on a Friday and Saturday night as if it was the capital's hottest new bar.

Chatting over a round of Monopoly or Connect Four is surprisingly just as fun as mingling at a bar, and it doesn't require screaming over load thumping music. Plus, there's no worrying about your heels hurting because you'll more than likely to be sitting the whole time.

While alcohol is served at most adult game board spots, the great part is you don't need a drop to have a good time. Buy sharing platters to nibble on and a few rounds of coffee for a cosy night out.

Find a board game café near you with our pick of the UK's best board game cafes and bars.

Drink up at dry bars

It looks like a cocktail. It tastes like a cocktail. But the best part is it won't feel like a cocktail the morning after. 

Since 2013, alcohol-free bars have been springing up across the country offering the same social environment as a pub or down-to-earth bar but with a more health-conscious spin. 

Redemption Bar at Fairly Square in London takes its cocktail making very seriously, with drinks such as The Beet O Tini - fresh organic beetroot, orange and lime juice with coconut water with a dash of agave, shaken over ice - and Apple Mock-jito - muddled apple presse, fresh mint and lime, served over ice and topped with soda. 

Outside of the capital, the bright and colourful Sobar in Nottingham is the Midland's first alcohol-free bar and The Brink in Liverpool offers a range of virgin cocktails that are carefully sourced from around the world and genuinely tasty. There's also plenty of entertainment on play in the background, from film screenings to live music, to ensure a solid night out. 

Meet for an evening coffee

It's no surprise that we have to turn to a local pub when our favourite coffee shop closes at 6pm, but there are a few late-night gems if you look for them.

Gourmet tea and coffee makers Sacred (in various London locations) stay open until 8pm and when the weather is good, their French doors pull back to let the fresh air in. If you can't get a table there, head to Bar Italia in Soho, London. It's been run by the same Italian family since 1949, serving good quality coffee all day and night from 7am to 5am. 

In Manchester, Sugar Junction (pictured below) serves 25 different teas, freshly baked cakes and home cooked food in their beautiful vintage tea room until 11.45pm and in Nottingham, Copper Cafe is a delightful spot to feast on cream bakes and afternoon teas until 9pm. 

Discover alternative cinema

Watching a film is one of the best places to turn the attention away from alcohol (it's obviously all about the popcorn). Visit to find a quirky and charming independent cinema you've never visited before. We recommend the Regent Street Cinema in London, which recently reopened after restorations to its art deco decor, and The Electric in Birmingham, the UK's oldest working cinema.

If you're feeling more adventurous, why not book yourself into a Drive-in Cinema in Liverpool and Manchester or the Alfresco Pillow Cinema in London.

Escape at one of the country's best puzzle rooms

When you’re fighting against the clock to escape a locked room, alcohol is the last thing you need. With a huge array of escape games across the country on offer, it’s never been a better time to grab your most trusted companions and put your grey cells to the test.

You can travel back in time in London’s Time Run, assist the mysterious Mr Q at ClueQuest, solve a mountain of puzzles at Hint Hunt, break out of a Scottish bank vault, or investigate an invisibility gene in Bristol.

There’s also a terrifying twist on offer if you opt for London’s Apocalypse Events, who chain a zombie up in the room with you. Nothing like a sense of danger to make things more fun, eh?

Indulge in an after-hours pampering session

An increasing number of hair and nail salons are staying open past our office hours, so why not head to one for an post-work relaxing session with a friend or colleague? In the same way a glass of wine might help you unwind after a strenuous day, so can a manicure, pedicure or blow-dry.

For Londoners, Blow Ltd in Covent Garden and Canary Wharf is open until 8pm from Thursday to Saturday, Cheeky (pictured above) in Shoreditch and Holborn is open until 9pm Monday to Saturday and Nails and Brows is open until 8pm on weeknights. Meanwhile, the Neil Cornelius Salon on Bond Street offers a 24-hour cut, blow-dry and colour hair service.

For anyone outside of the capital, Pure beauty salons in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh stay open until 9pm (some branches on selected days) and offer everything from nails to facials. At the Lisa Shepherd hair salon in Birmingham, Redken run a no-appointment-necessary Express Colour Bar Service until 8pm from Monday to Friday, where you can have your hair died in less than an hour for the price of £30. The perfect length of time to catch up with a friend before dinner.

Discover mocktails at the country's best bars

The best place to get non-alcoholic fare is in fact at the very best bars. Most brilliant drinking spots in the country have an equally impressive mocktail selection. 

"I feel nonalcoholic cocktails are in the same position where vegetables were years back," Alex Kratena, head bartender at London's Artesian Bar (named the world's best bar in 213), tells The Wall Street Journal. "It used to be that a dish was constructed around a piece of meat, and then chefs became interested in stretching their creativity by experimenting more heavily with vegetables. These days, you see vegetarian tasting menus at Michelin three-star restaurants."

"Herbs, spices, almond milk, tinctures, savory ingredients, mushrooms, rose water, lavender water, salt, perfume ingredients—these give us incredible choices," says Kratena. "It's up to us as professionals to move the genre forward and create some really exciting drinks." Kratena's virgin drinks combine unsweetened pomegranate juice, almond syrup, rose water and orange blossom water. Another takes its flavour from muddled herbs and hot chilies. Kratena believes the only limitation when it comes to nonalcoholic recipes is the maker's imagination.

Other top bars with great mocktails are London's Marks Bar and The Nightjar, Glasgow's Blue Dog (their Not Quite Russian blends Nutella, double cream, espresso and vanilla syrup and tastes phenomenal) and Birmingham's Ginger's Bar.

Peruse art in the dark

There is something incredibly fascinating about perusing an art gallery or museum in the dark – a night-time foray into culture just feels so much more adventurous than the daytime.

The Tate Modern stays open until 10pm on weekends, while Manchester Art Gallery stays open until 9pm every Thursday. London’s V&A is open until 10pm the last Friday of every single month (barring December and September) and plenty more museums and galleries across the county are following suit with late night opening times of their own.  

Time to ditch the drinking culture, and drink up some culture instead...

Enjoy dinner and a virgin G&T

It was recently revealed that botanicals expert Ben Branson had created a delicious non-alcoholic gin, and now you can grab a class of the sophisticated drink (which is completely free of sugar, sweeteners and artificial flavourings) at a number of restaurants around the country.

From the Savoy and Claridges, to any of the Gordon Ramsay Group restaurants, you’re sure to find somewhere that tickles your tastebuds… 

Knock 'em down at a retro bowling alley

What could be more fun than grabbing your friends together for a night of old-fashioned fun at one of the country’s retro bowling alleys? There’s the Roxy in Leeds, where you can bowl for just £5 on Monday nights (and pizza’s a fiver, too), the All Saints bowling alleys in London and Manchester, the Rollerbowl in Inverness, and plenty more besides. Who needs booze when you can wear bowling shoes?

Words: Sejal Kapadia

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Sejal Kapadia Pocha covers stories about everything from women’s issues to cult foods. She describes herself as a balance between Hermione and Luna Lovegood.