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A great night out in Preston

Posted on - 9th September, 2009 - 8:37pm | Author - | Posted in - Nightlife, Pubs, Recreation

Rainbow Road cocktail at Preston's Cocktail FactoryI was approached to write a post about Preston being the nation’s best night out for The Nation’s Best, so I asked our readers what they thought was great about Preston’s nightlife. We got some really varied responses and below is my write-up of what can only be described as a good spread of different nights out in Preston. We haven’t managed to cover everything, so if we missed somewhere or something just add it in the comments section.

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It’s not Manchester and it’s not Liverpool. It’s Preston and to me it’s a Mars bar city – there’s plenty for people who want to work, rest and play.

Preston has always struggled with its identity – it was an old market town but with a growing population it’s moving with the times and so is its nightlife.

The home of the temperance movement might not sound like the place to find the best bars, but Preston likes its pubs – and increasingly its trendy bars.

The big night out

For a blowout night on the town, it’s got to start at Forum. Get dressed up to the nines and sup a fancy beer, while you consider where to head to next. The place gets busy on the weekends.

Head down the high street and down a side road and you’ll find the stunning Cocktail Factory, Vintage and Priory. Previously known as Fives – and once the old town hall – it’s been converted, one floor at a time, into Preston’s premiere drinking establishment.

In the basement is the Cocktail Factory, where you can get your spirits mixed by great bartenders and relax in the luxurious surroundings. It’s £6.00 for a cocktail, but be warned some of them are not for the faint hearted.

Heading up the stairs is Vintage, where only the best will do. Enjoy a premium beer, mainly imported from Europe, or a champagne cocktail. The bar is very well lit and there are mirrors everywhere, so make sure you are wearing your best clothes before heading there.

Leaving the sophistication of Cocktail Factory and Vintage, it’s always worth popping into Revolution for a drink. It’s a chain, so every city will have one, but it’s been established in Preston for a long time now. Vodka-based cocktails and funky tunes will keep you entertained for an hour or two before it’s time to find somewhere new.

If it’s a weekend, your choice is between the two big clubs of Lava and Squires. Both owned by Luminar Leisure they are the same as you’d expect in any large town, a bit of a meat market but the music policy has been improved recently in both – so dodge the slightly sticky carpets and let yourself go with some cheap drinks offers and the latest chart anthems.

Finish the night with the fast-food of your choice and join the safety of the queues at the taxi ranks and wait for your ride home. Job done.

Bubbling under the surface

Want something a bit different for your night out? Preston isn’t just your straight out for 10-pints, a fist fight and vomit on the pavement kind of night out – it caters for all tastes.

Start the night down the river at The Continental, fast establishing itself as the place to be seen at in Preston. It’s great to start the evening with as it serves fantastic local produce until 9 PM and has a great selection of real ales, wines and foreign lagers – all at competitive prices. It’s perfect to have some food at before heading up into town, especially if you’ve spent the afternoon lazing in the picturesque surroundings of Avenham Park.

Heading back up into town (if you’re wearing heels, we recommend a taxi to get you there) The Market Tavern is worth calling into. Always with three real ales on tap and a friendly atmosphere, it’s a place to take stock and decide where you’re going to end the evening. It also doesn’t blast music at you, so you can actually catch up on all the gossip with your friends that you’re out with – rather than screaming the news that your cousin has just had a baby to half the dance floor in some sticky club when the DJ decides to finish the song slightly early compared to the album version.

Finishing the night off, one of Preston’s oldest nightclubs – The Warehouse – is as good a place as any. Small, compact, with low ceilings, it’s three floors of dance, indie, rock, metal and alternative. The music policy here is excellent and the drinks are cheap – weekdays it’s £1 in and two free shots to boot – and you will hear everything from La Roux, to the Rolling Stones to Blink 182.

The student night out

Preston has a large student population and it has mushroomed in the last decade so now the cities nightlife is increasingly geared towards them during term-time. Students dominate the week nights, but it also means that diverse club nights are finding a home in the city as students musical tastes are varied and they have the disposable income to explore different nights and venues.

Students often start the night at the Students’ Union, just on the fringe of the city – with Source the popular drinking establishment. It’s a student-only bar and the prices are low. After this students spill down towards Friargate, where the Adelphi and Roper Hall combination is always popular. Monday night is ‘Quids night’ at Roper Hall and plenty take advantage of cheap drinks and popular music.

Thursdays the double-header of ‘Pound a pint’ at the Adelphi and Promo at 53 Degrees are a hit. Also popular is a combination of mid-week Italian, at Tiggis – which does half-price food for students – before stumbling across the road and down into the dark confines of the Cocktail Factory for some mid-week spirits.

Live music, comedy and roller disco

53 Degrees is also worth a mention. The cities venue has big touring acts but an increasingly diverse range of club nights – as other venues in the city have suffered during the recession it has lapped them up. Big names to play this autumn include Dizzee Rascal, Calvin Harris, Friendly Fires, The Enemy and NDubz. It is gathering a great reputation for live music, but also has club nights and comedy.

It hosts Stand & Deliver, a comedy night, that runs fortnightly and has some fantastic stand-up comedians for about £7 for students and a tenner for the public. It’s normally four comedians and a compere, and their wine deals on the night are very good.

Recently 53 Degrees has been hosting the Superfunk Roller Disco. This insane phenomena from the 70s and 80s is back in fashion, and you can pull on your leg warmers, have a few drinks and attempt to roller skate around to retro tunes.

Despite being ‘the Students’ Union’ venue, the majority of 53 Degrees shows are open to the public and the quality of live acts it attracts means it’s definitely worth exploring their listings.

Thanks to SandyCalico, andrewdisleySnakecharmer1, lukebosman, AdeleLBamber and jonnysilcock for their recommendations that formed the basis of this article.

A shortened version of this post appeared on The Nation’s Best blog.

Image credit to redcherryhill

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