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Planning a good night out is never difficult in Surrey because there is so much choice. Most of the best evening entertainment can be found in the larger towns, all of which have a variety of venues, from traditional pubs to stylish and sophisticated wine bars, nightclubs and theatres. However, if you are staying off the beaten track, then your hotel will be able to advise you of anything happening in local villages and on the doorstep.
The county is known for its pubs, particularly those tucked away down winding lanes in the countryside, but that doesn’t mean they should be reserved solely for post-rambling drinks. During the evening, these venues come alive – many showcase local music talent and invite bands to come and play, while others put on open mic nights, where you can even get up and join in the fun, if you’re brave enough.
Let’s start in the county town of Guildford. On the River Wey, which runs through the heart of the town, you’ll find a number of pubs for a relaxing pint overlooking the water, such as The White House and The Weyside, which has an outside burger shack, and Swiss-style outdoor cabins, complete with log burners for when the weather turns chilly.
Although officially a ‘town’ pub, award-winning The Britannia, which sits just back from the river, harbours a country feel with chunky wooden tables, log fire and bowls of water and biscuits for visitors of the four-legged variety. It’s also known for its bi-monthly Uke Jam nights, where every other Sunday evening the local ukulele group entertain patrons and even encourage them to join in.
Another venue, which has picked up a number of local and national awards, is The Boileroom. This independent, alternative live music venue is where you’ll find Surrey’s ‘underground’ vibe, It’s also home to Social Cinema, which showcases ‘films with meaning’ in an intimate space, and hosts Punk Rock Yoga sessions if you fancy mixing a bit of light exercise with an evening listening to alternative tunes.
Most of the best evening entertainment can be found in the larger towns, all of which have a variety of venues, from traditional pubs to stylish and sophisticated wine bars, nightclubs and theatres
If cocktails are your thing then Lounge in Godalming is an intimate bar with a happy hour every night of the week – cocktails are £5 on weekdays and buy one, get one free at the weekends. Red, in Weybridge, also has an extensive contemporary cocktail menu and you can even try your hand at shaking up your own at one of its beginners’ cocktail training sessions. Clubbers meanwhile might want to head to Boogie Lounge in Epsom, Pryzm in Kingston or Casino in Guildford, which despite its name doesn’t actually have any tables for gambling, for a dance off.
For an evening guaranteed to give you some laughs, head to one of Surrey’s many comedy clubs. The Grey Horse, in Kingston, is home to Crack Comedy Club, while the Boileroom in Guildford hosts monthly Kick Back Comedy nights. Dorking Halls has a monthly Screaming Blue Murder Comedy Club and Guildford’s G-Live mixes its comedy offering with a bit of curry at its Hellfire Comedy Club, usually held on the last Thursday of every month.
If you are looking for a slightly more sedate evening of cultural entertainment, Surrey has an extensive portfolio of theatres and thriving community arts centres, which host a wide and varied range of events throughout the year.
The Yvonne Arnaud and G-Live theatres in Guildford, Victoria Theatre in Woking, The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill and Rose Theatre in Kingston are all known for their local and national touring productions, while Farnham Maltings Creative Arts Centre has six resident theatre and dance companies, which put on shows, alongside offerings from visiting performers.
In 2017, a new, first-of-its-kind theatre opened in Surrey, within the grounds of West Horsley Place – the former home of Mary the Duchess of Roxburghe, which was bequeathed to her nephew, TV presenter Bamber Gascoigne, when she died in 2014. Theatre in the Woods is the new home of Grange Park Opera (formerly based in Hampshire) and in the summer months hosts a season of spectacular operas, such as Tosca by Puccini and Wagner’s Die Walküre.
If you are looking for a slightly more sedate evening of cultural entertainment, Surrey has an extensive portfolio of theatres and thriving community arts centres
There are plenty of opportunities for film buffs to catch the latest releases too. Most of Surrey’s larger towns have multiplex cinemas but you will also find some great independent venues, such as Everyman, in Esher, Reigate, Oxted and Walton on Thames. Look out for those offering secret cinema nights too, if you want to add a bit more intrigue to the evening.
In the summer months, it’s not just Surrey’s theatres that play host to film and theatrical performances – the county offers a huge range of open-air performances. Gatton Community Theatre relives tales of the Surrey Hills from within the grounds of Gatton Park, while Guildford Castle Gardens set the scene for Guildford Shakespeare Company’s annual summer productions. There’s also a number of open air cinema nights held across the county, in venues such as Guildford Cathedral, The Medicine Garden in Cobham and Epsom College, to name just a few.
Each year, Hampton Court Palace also hosts its own open-air festival in the stunning Tudor Base Court of the palace, with world-class acts, such as Jools Holland, Tom Jones and Alfie Boe giving performances accompanied by spectacular fireworks and sumptuous dining experiences. Make sure you book early if you want to bag a ticket though as these sell out fast. Talking of festivals, Surrey hosts a plethora of music and food festivals from Always The Sun in Guildford’s Stoke Park, to Weyfest in Tilford and Ripley Rocks. Check individual event websites for the latest line ups.
Surrey also has its fair share of racecourses offering an alternative evening of entertainment. Epsom Downs, Kempton Park, Lingfield Park and Sandown Park all hold twilight race meetings between the months of March and October and at the height of the season, many are accompanied by music concerts with top names, such as the Kaiser Chiefs, Paloma Faith and Culture Club taking centre stage.
With loads of great venues (both indoor and out), a legendary arts scene (both in the modern and classical sense) and plenty of pubs, bars and clubs to choose from, Surrey has more than enough unique and exciting opportunities to keep you entertained once the sun goes down so, what are you waiting for?
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Image credits: ©Bobby Hendry/Viktor Forgacs/Unplash; Shutterstock.com; Steve Porter/Guildford Shakespeare Company