A local’s guide to the thrills and spills of East Anglia’s most popular seaside resort

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It’s said that people will flock from metres around to savour the excitement of the Great Yarmouth nightlife. Few seaside holiday resorts can offer their guests such a delicious selection of clubs, pubs and bars - and that applies whether you’re simply in the mood for a quiet half of lager with a view of the sea, or a full on session where you slam down tequila till you lose all consciousness, only to wake up the next morning soaked in your own urine and smeared with your own vomit alongside some lovely Yarmouth lass or lad who clearly took your fancy in your drunken state - but who is now revealed in their full morning horror. 22-stone! Tats all over! Surrounded by the six children from their previous relationships and one-night stands...

 

 ‘I made you some breakfast. I hope chips are okay. They’re only oven ones, though. It’s all I had.’

I’ll be honest with you - it’s a minefield out there. But then that’s the excitement of a big night out. You just never know where you might end up, but you can at least know where to start off your evening...

BEST FOR GETTING THE PARTY STARTED... If there’s a moment of the day when the Marine Pub, on Marine Parade, isn’t busy, then I’m yet to see it. If you walk past by day, then you’ll see the garden full of holidaymakers sipping a morning sharpener of an afternoon half, then in the evening, it gets literally rammed with people in search of a damn good time! Why? Because the owner makes an effort and is always coming up with new ideas to entertain his guests, whether it’s themed fancy dress nights, karaoke, drag acts, tribute acts or just a good, old-fashioned disco. The dance floor is small and the place does got crowded, but there’s always the garden if you want to cool down and relax outside. It’s basically the most welcoming pub I’ve ever been to - unpretentious, lively and with a real party atmosphere on a good night.

BEST FOR A QUIET DRINK

 

Not as busy or as fun as its lively next-door neighbour, the Marine, the Barking Smack offers a quieter and less frenzied experience. Serving an interesting range of local beers, it has a chilled front garden where you can sit and chat over a pint of Lacons. It appeals to a slightly older crowd and has a Zimmer-frame friendly entrance, as well as entertainment from local performers, like Lee Statham and Rockin Ronnie, most weekends. Excellent seafront location; and great for people watching by day.

 

TOP TIP: Don’t turn up too late. The landlord closes when he wants to close, so don’t be offended if the gates are locked and bolted.

INTO THE EARLY HOURS

 

I don’t know what’s wrong with the youngsters of today. My generation’s idea of a good night out was drinking horrible lager in a miserable pub while listening to awful music played by moronic Djs; not to mention chatting up women who one wouldn’t have touched with a barge pole while sober - or if one was a woman, being chatted up by men who one wouldn’t have touched with a barge pole while sober.

 

And then as the lager and Bacardi really took hold, the punch ups would start, the vomit would emerge and gentlemen and ladies would pass out onto what was liable to be a urine, sick and blood-soaked floor. And still the DJ kept on playing Boney M, or worse, Rick Astley. Then one would be fleeced £40 for a taxi home.

 

Ah, great times! And yet the kids these days would rather sit at home with their mobile phones than end up covered in their own and/or someone else’s vomit, or in bed with a moose, or in A&E, or wrapped around a lamppost till the early hours. And for that reason, most of the fabled Great Yarmouth nightclubs of yore have long-since been demolished and turned into flats. You can still get a late night drink at Long John’s Bar at the end of Britannia Pier, though, and maybe have a dance and get a snog if you’re lucky. Or maybe just go home...

TEN-PIN BOWLING

 

Night-life doesn’t have to be all about getting drunk. It can be all about rolling heavy balls in the direction of skittles while dressed in peculiar footwear - and for that you need to head to the Wellington Bowl at the end of Wellington Pier. Once a theatre that was graced by comic legends of the calibre of Jim Davidson, Bob Monkhouse, Roy Hudd and Les Dennis, the Wellington Bowl is open daily till 11 pm during the summer months and 10.30 pm in the winter months. Food and drink are available, plus there’s American pool and slot machines galore in this family-friendly venue.

CASINOS AND BINGO PARLOURS

 

If you’re gambling tastes are more for roulette and poker than one-armed bandits and flipper machines, then the Grosvenor Casino, opposite Wellington Pier, is Great Yarmouth’s main casino. Or if you fancy some serious Bingo, then head to the town centre for a wild night out at the Palace Bingo. Expect pensioners galore and way more than two fat ladies. Eyes down now for a Full House...

 

BORING FACT: Palace Bingo is a former Tesco. And if you’re looking for Tesco, it’s now an out-of-town megastore!

LGBT-FRIENDLY VENUES

 

If you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, merely bi-curious or a man who likes to dress in women’s clothes, then you’ll find Great Yarmouth a reasonably tolerant place - and will find a warm welcome in seafront pubs such as the Marine and the Barking Smack. But should you prefer something a little more specialist, then King’s Wine Bar on King Street is the place to head. This stylishly and theatrically decorated bar has been at the heart of the Great Yarmouth gay scene for donkey’s years - and with its intimate lounge, small but lively dance floor and extremely well-stocked bar, it has a relaxed and welcoming vibe where you are sure to feel at home, whatever your sexuality or however fluid or neutral your gender.

 

The newer kid on the Great Yarmouth gay scene is Quay Pride, which as the name suggests, is down by the river. It’s a little bit out of the way, but with its rainbow-coloured frontage, you really can’t miss it should you happen to drive past. And it has drag acts aplenty, if that’s your thing.

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NIGHTLIFE

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