5 Simple and Free Bar Entertainment Ideas for Dead Nights


With just a handful of customers sipping their drinks and bar staff twiddling their thumbs, those recurring dead nights are a killer for pubs. So we’ve put 5 Bar Entertainment suggestions together to help you inject a bit of life into them. They’re all a bit of fun for your customers, can be run by a bar person working a shift on their own, and won’t cost a penny if you don’t want them to.

1 - Solo Pub Quiz: There are no teams, no mobile phones, and its every woman or man for themselves! All you need is a bunch of pens, paper sheets, questions, and a readiness to get the craic started. Take an entry fee and put the money into the prize fund. Then ask the questions in rounds, which you can do as you continue working. At the end of each one, randomly distribute the completed answer sheets between the customers, so that they can correct each other. When all rounds have been completed, total the scores and give the pot to the winner. You’ll find plenty of questions on Triviaplaza.com and Sporcle.com.

2 - TV Theme Night: Whether it’s Peaky Blinders, Dancing with the Stars, or Coronation Street, everyone has their favourite and must see weekly TV show. So pick one, and set your bar up as the place to watch it. Rearrange your seating if necessary to make viewing as comfortable as possible, and put a unique themed cocktail on special to boost sales even more. And don’t forget, if it’s a series you have two opportunities for BIG nights; the season opener, and the season finale!

3 - Drinks Tasting Night: How about “Try me Tuesdays”? Whether it’s craft beer, specialist gins & whiskies, or fine wines, create a sipping platter that represents good value. Get your suppliers and those who are trying to get their products onto your shelves onboard too. Apart from the potential for a discount on the product, many are delighted to have an opportunity to talk about their brand directly to your customers. This writer had just such an experience with a beer expert from McGargles. Apart from being incredibly interesting and informative, it was a really fun evening :-).

4 - Arts Night: As a nation with a proud history in the arts, it’s surprising just how difficult it is for emerging artists to find a public platform from which to show off their wares. So give them one. Run a weekly arts night where novelists, poets, painters, or songwriters can exhibit and sell their work. Apart from it being a chance to engage with your local community and build trust and credibility, it’s a fantastic opportunity for PR.

5 - Video Game Night: Contrary to what some commentators believe, Video gaming can be a very interpersonal and social activity. Tap into this by hosting a weekly video night. Choose a specific game, then have your customers bring their devices along, log into your wifi, and all play simultaneously. Battle Royale games such as Fortnite allow nearly 100 at a time, while the likes of FIFA has up to 16 players.

Be Persistent & Consistent

As with all bar entertainment, there’s a catch: it takes effort and it takes time. Short of hiring U2 or Macklemore for the night, nothing is going to bring a sudden influx of customers through your doors. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen over time if you’re persistent and consistent. Take the time to research and plan your idea so you can make it the best you can. That way your customers will have good reason to sit at your bar, rather than their sofa at home :-).