A pub crawl (sometimes called a bar tour, bar crawl or bar-hopping) is the act of one or more people drinking in multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally travelling by foot or bus to each destination and occasionally by cycle.
Origin of the term
The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English defines 'pub crawl' as both a noun and a verb, with the noun (dating from 1915) being defined as "a drinking session that moves from one licensed premises to the next, and so on", and the verb (1937) meaning "to move in a group from one drinking establishment to the next, drinking at each." The term is a combination of "pub (a public house, licensed for the sale of alcohol) and a less-and-less figurative sense of crawl".
Many European cities have public pub crawls that act as social gatherings for the local expatriate communities and tourists. These crawls focus on the social aspect of meeting new friends and being introduced to new bars in a strange city.
In the UK, pub crawls are generally unstructured and spontaneous nights-out, in which the participants arrange to meet in a particular location and decide over drinks on where to drink next. Structured routes with regular stops are rare. Most drinking sessions based around a special occasion such as a birthday or a leaving celebration will involve a pub-crawl, often with the group splitting up but agreeing on meeting at the next location. It is a common sight in UK towns to see several groups orbiting the various drinking locations with little apparent coherence or structure.
In the north of Spain, around the Basque Country, the tradition for groups of male friends crawling pubs and drinking a short glass of wine at each pub, and often singing traditional songs, is known as txikiteo or chiquiteo, and can be held at night or day. By the end of the 20th century, it was extended also to women, and when it involves a wider variety of drinks, it is more often called poteo.
The SantaCon pub crawl originated in San Francisco in 1994 and has since spread to 300 cities in 44 countries, including New York City. London, Vancouver, Belfast and Moscow. The New York SantaCon is the largest, with an estimated 30,000 people participating in 2012. Other events were much smaller and more subdued, with 30 participating in Spokane, Washington.
In New York City, where it has taken place since 1997, it as has come under widespread criticism for rowdiness by participants, with drunken behavior that has disrupted parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and led to calls for the event to be ended and for participant misbehavior to be curbed. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that despite "some rowdy actions by a small handful of people in the past," SantaCon was "an event that we support. It’s what makes New York New York." During the New York City SantaCon in 2012, participants "left a trail of trouble" through Hell's Kitchen, Midtown Manhattan, the East Village and Williamsburg. Residents complained revelers vomited and urinated in the street and fought with each other.
'World's biggest pub crawl'
The World's Greatest Pub Fest, held annually in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia, holds the Guinness World Record for the largest pub crawl. The World's Greatest Pub Crawl, as it was then known, set the official record of 4,718 participants, on June 14, 2009. Maryborough, a city of 26,000, three hours north of Brisbane, is home to 17 hotels. The World's Greatest Pub Crawl began in 2005 and has broken the Guinness World Record each year since then, although on occasions the record has been beaten between events. The World's Greatest Pub Fest, as it became in 2010, is held on the Sunday of the June Queen's Birthday long weekend. Charity is a major focus of the crawl, with proceeds of the 2010 blue-themed event going to prostate cancer causes. It has been presumed that bad weather may have prevented the city from re-breaking its record on June 13, 2010. Numbers will not be official for weeks or potentially months.
The Adelaide University Engineering Society (AUES) holds an annual pub crawl attracting students from all over South Australia to as many as 34 local pubs and clubs. The AUES's 2013 pub crawl is currently being assessed by Guinness as the largest pub crawl by participants or by participants wearing identical themed shirts. In March 2012, they sold 4000 "2012 The Alcopocalypse" T-shirts. For their event on the 23rd of March 2012. On the 22nd of March 2013, their "Boozing Bad" pub crawl sold 5127 shirts.
On October 9, 2010 London tried attempting to break Maryborough's Guinness World Record with an event called World Record Pub Crawl 2010. Organizers were expecting 5,000+ people. Due to problems with local authorities, the event was cancelled.
In Charlotte, North Carolina there is a yearly pub crawl on Saint Patrick's Day. In 2012 the pub crawl had more than 15,000 participants roughly 6000 more than the previous year which had 8987. Making this pub crawl the largest in the world.
Annually in London, thousands of New Zealanders take part in the Waitangi Day pub crawl, a crawl around the Circle Line on the London Underground. Starting at Paddington they work counter-clockwise around the line, usually ending at Westminster for a haka (traditional New Zealand challenge/dance) and then many continue on to the Temple Walkabout bar. While numbers vary depending on the weather, in 2008 there were reported to be around 12,000 people involved.
In 2010, The Twelve Bars of Christmas in Chicago hosted 10,000 patrons, becoming the biggest Christmas pub Crawl on record.
Other notable pub crawls
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In Iceland, a "runtur" is a popular way of getting to know the bars and beers in the area during the celebration of Beer Day every year on March 1—many bars and nightclubs are open until 4:00 a.m.
Running A Tab Pub Run takes place monthly in San Antonio, TX and is hosted by WeRunSanAntonio. The original Running A Tab Pub Run covered 5 miles in downtown San Antonio. The starting point was the historic Sunset Station and finished at the Blue Star Brewery and Art Complex. The event is held in conjunction with San Antonio's First Friday Art Walk. In 2009 the route was modified to accommodate the more than 500 participants every month. Running A Tab now consists of a 3 mile downtown loop and 5 bars/restaurants. A theme is selected every month and participants dress in costume in accordance with the theme. The event is free and open to the public.
Gator Stompin' takes place annually in Gainesville, Florida, home of the University of Florida. This event, which occurs throughout midtown and downtown, has been a Gainesville tradition for over 29 years. The bar crawl consists of over 50 bars and includes multiple prizes that entrants can win and currently attempts to set the world record for the largest bar crawl in the world.
Northgate Olympics is pub crawl that is held in the Northgate district of College Station each semester at the conclusion of finals at Texas A&M University. Students compete in teams of 8 and must finish specific alcohol-related challenges at each bar on the list. This event is not sanctioned by the university.
In Milwaukee the Shamrock Shuffle formerly known as the Shamrock Stumble brought in over 3,000 participants the last 2 years, which always takes place the weekend before St. Patrick's Day.
Fall Crawl takes places annually in Clemson, South Carolina. The event has over 2200 participants each year and is the largest pub crawl in South Carolina.
Notable pub crawls in the UK include the Otley Run, the Roxby Run in Staithes, Hillsborough Street, and the Mumbles. The circular underground train line in Glasgow allows for a variation on the pub-crawl known as the sub-crawl or "clockwork orange". This involves the purchase of an all day ticket for the subway and consuming a drink at the nearest bar to each of the fifteen stops on the route.
In London, two pub crawls are well known, The Circle Line Challenge, which follows the Circle line (London Underground) of London and drinking a half pint at each of the 27 stops and having a final pint in the first pub you started in making 28 half pints and Pubopoly, which involves drinking a half pint on all of the 26 locations around London from the UK version of the Monopoly (game).
The Manly Man Pub Crawl is a bi-annual event, originating in Cheltenham, England and taking place over a 12 hour period in February and September. Now in its tenth incarnation, the event attracts hundreds of past and present alumni of the University of Gloucestershire, who compete in a variety of team tasks and challenges throughout the day, with a different one staged at each locale.
The Tonypandy to Cardiff pub crawl has been going for several years and is the World's first pub crawl to make use of public transport as a means of navigating establishments. Participants start the day at a pub close to Tonypandy Train Station, then get off at each stop along the Treherbet line towards Cardiff, head to the nearest pub, have a pint then get the train until the next stop, where the process is repeated. After 10 stops (Tonypandy, Dinas, Porth, Trehafod, Pontypridd, Trefforest, Taff's Well, Radyr, Llandaff, Cathays) this remarkable crawl then culminates in Cardiff around 9pm, where the train portion of the crawl ends and the remaining participants head into the city centre to party through the night.
The MADride Pub Crawl in Madrid, Spain was the first of its kind. Meeting at the famous landmark Oso y Madroño (bear and strawberry-tree sculpture) in the center of the city every night at 11PM, they take tourists and locals alike to discover the Madrid nightlife.
In recent years the more European style travelers' pub crawls have gained popularity in the United States. Cities like New York, Miami, San Francisco and New Orleans all have weekly pub crawl events aimed at taking out travelers on a nightlife tour/event. Such events are especially popular with groups of traveling friends and solo travelers. Participants are treated to their own traveling party with benefits that often include waived admission fees, skip-the-line entry, and free drinks and other exclusive drink specials.
The Glasgow Subway "sub crawl" requires participants to drink from a pub near each of the 15 stations on the circular route. Two similar events are the Circle Line Pub Crawl involving London's Circle Line (attracting expatriate New Zealanders on Waitangi Day) and the Metro Pub Crawl from Birmingham to Wolverhampton on the Midland Metro. Glaswegians also get to enjoy the Thirst Bus which takes revellers from the city centre to the east end and back with frequent visits to licensed premises along the route.
Pub crawls need not be officially organized events. Pub crawls, such as the Louisville, Kentucky "Bambi Walk", can be undertaken by friends when the desire strikes. According to Stuff, the "Bambi Walk" has been crawled, unorganized, since the 1980s.
The Buenos Aires Pub Crawl is the biggest Organized Pub Crawl in South America, operating seven nights a week in 4 different neighborhoods and involving groups of between 15 and 250 pub crawlers. There are also sister Pub Crawl's in Santiago and Vina Del Mar, Chile also in Rio, Brazil.
Minneapolis, Minnesota started a zombie-themed pub crawl in 2005 that has become an annual tradition; it had grown to over 30,000 participants in 2012 and garnered the Guinness world record for largest gathering of zombies that same year. Zombie pub crawls can be seen as a combination of the pub crawl and zombie walk traditions. During a zombie pub crawl participants wear zombie costumes and shuffle from bar to bar imitating the living dead. Following Minnesota's lead, zombie-themed pub crawls have now spread to multiple cities including Philadelphia, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, and Washington DC.
Edinburgh's Rose Street is well-known locally and beyond as the city's legendary pub-crawl venue. Situated one street behind Edinburgh's world-famous Princes Street, Rose Street occupies four relatively short blocks nowadays boasting 18 pubs. In the 1970s, there were 28 pubs. The pubs' close proximity to each other in this part-pedestrianised street makes pub-crawling very accessible. Not only popular with young local men, the street has become a shrine to many visiting rugby and football fans wanting to rise to the challenge of this Everest of alcohol consumption. The Rose Street pub crawl, known as the Rose Street Challenge, is not an organized event, but is a year-round, self-imposed challenge to attempt to drink alcohol in every pub / licensed hostelry in the street. There is no prize other than the pride of personal or group achievement.
Recently there have been many Asia pub crawls popping up in various major cities, all following the same basic premise of a the pub crawl: bar hopping, drinking, socializing, making new friends, and so on. Some notables parties are the Shanghai Pub Crawl, Tokyo Pub Crawl, The Singapore Pub Crawl, and various other major metropolises around Asia.
Santa Claus Theme
In Brisbane, Australia, the Christmas Pub Crawl runs each year on the first Saturday following the end of the school year in December. This event has been running annually since 1982 and is now "the world's longest running pub crawl". The revellers don Santa hats and wear Hawaiian shirts, and are renowned for their singing of Christmas Carols and other standards, such as the popular "Delilah (Tom Jones song)". The event commences at the Roma Street Transit Centre Bar, winds its way through several pubs down George Street, then, as patrons become a little more cheerful, a Conga line is formed, ending at the centre of the Queen Street Mall. Here, to the amusement and delight of tourists, a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas (song) is sung with gusto, before several more pubs on the itinerary are visited. A good time is guaranteed for all!
In London, the London Santa Pub Crawl has been held each December since 2004. The event sees participants dress up as Santa Claus, and visit a selection of London pubs along a pre-planned route. From just 25 participants in its first year, the event now sees more than 300 Santas take to the streets to enjoy the festivities. Participants are asked to donate to support the event's nominated charity, and more than £5,000 has been raised over the years for the British Red Cross and St Christopher's Hospice. The 2014 London Santa Pub Crawl will take place on Saturday 13 December 2014.
In Wollongong, Australia, a Santa Claus Crawl occurs each December to raise donations of children's toys for local charities. The Santa Claus Pub Crawl 2007 dressed in Santa Claus costumes thronging roads and pubs. In 2009, the pub crawl set a new attendance record, with between 2500 to 3000 Santa Clauses, elves, and other costumed revelers joining the annual event, raising around A$15,000 in cash and A$40,000 –50,000 in donated toys for the Salvation Army, and making the event now the largest of its type in the world. In 2010 the event attracted over 4000 people growing steadily through social media.
In the United States, The Running of the Santas is a December event in which some Americans dress as Santa Claus and venture from bar to bar consuming alcoholic beverages. American cities have staged such Runnings but not with universal approval. In 2008, for example, the Boston Herald commented on Boston's scheduled Running: "Scores of beer-sodden, booze-soaked pub crawlers dressed up like St. Nick plan to hit the Hub's streets during tomorrow's "Running of the Santas" - an annual, nationwide drinkfest that has infuriated parents and watchdog groups. "Santa Claus is a treasured icon for children," says Eric Helmuth, spokesman for Join Together, a Boston University health group that is fighting the pub crawl. Helmuth said he's concerned about the effect on kids who see "Santa careening through the streets drinking or going from pub to pub." The international SantaCon is another event that sees seasonal crawls.
In Reno, NV, thousands dress as Santa or other festive characters and merrily swarm downtown bars. The organizers of the event raise money from crawlers and participating bars, with all proceeds going to local charities. The Reno Santa Pub Crawl benefits Washoe County Schools through Donorschoose. As of today, it is said to have funded 140 projects and reached 12,000 students. It is also one of the largest pub crawls, with over 12,000 attending in 2012.
- King Street Run
- List of public house topics
- Pub Golf
- Rail Ale Ramble
- The World's End
- Zombie Pub Crawl
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