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A bar in the US

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 walking to each one between drinking.


Origin of the term

A picturesque pub in the UK

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term (including variations like "gin crawl" and "beer crawl" and "bohemian death march") has been in use since the late 19th century.

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".[1]


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. The city that held the Guinness World Record for the largest pub crawl ever held was London, England (2,278 people) in an event organised by Tim The Tourman.[2]

Worlds biggest bar crawl?

Annually in London, United Kingdom, 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 anti-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.[3]

The largest student bar crawl in the world, known as 'Seven Legged,' is held each year in Nottingham, England. In 2009, 6,750 students took part. The University of Nottingham's fundraising and events organization team 'Karnival' hosts the event each autumn. The event requires a team of seven, six of these team members are tied together in a similar fashion to a three legged race at school. The seventh member acts as the 'runner' buying the teams drinks at each of the seven bars which they attend. All teams must have their own fancy dress code. At the end of the evening the teams end up in a final destination. In 2009 these clubs were Oceana, Ocean and Rock City. The entire event raised £50,000 for Karnival to be distributed to local Nottingham charities.

Other notable pub crawls

In the greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, thousands of people have attended the Wolski's Pub Crawl, the Bay View Pub Crawl, and the Zombie Pub Crawls, as well as the B.O.M.B. pub crawl in Madison. San Diego held 3 annual "Stay Classy" pub crawls in which the proceeds go to charity. The event grew in popularity so fast, that the old format had to be changed for 2008 to a "Jam".[4] The Ghent Winter Bar Tour in Norfolk, Virginia takes place each year on the last Saturday in February and claims to be the largest charitable pub crawl in the United States based on dollars raised. The annual event had over 1,000 participants on February 28, 2009 and raised $20,750 in one night for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.[5] 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[6]. Beacon NY also had a pub crawl,for the last 12 years.Last years attendance was estimitated at 5000

The biggest Bar Golf pub crawl is known as Bar Golf USA (formally known as Boston Bar Golf), who’s popular has grown over the last five years. They host Pub Crawls all over the country, but their most popular crawl would be in Boston, Ma. They’re annual Boston Bar Crawl has had anywhere from 1000 to 1500 people.[7]

Notable pub crawls in the UK include the Otley Run, Hillsborough Street, and the Mumbles.

The Annual Wharfe Valley Pub Crawl

Of recent years, a pub crawl starting in the West Yorkshire city of Bradford (UK) has grown in popularity. Traditionally taking place during the easter vacation period, participants follow the Wharfe valley National Rail train line between Bradford Forster Square and Ilkley, stopping at each station in turn, and visiting the pub or bar closest to the station for a pint. The length of the run and distance of some pubs from their respective stations mean the event usually takes place over an entire afternoon and evening. A list of pubs and bars usually frequented at each stop can be found below (NOTE: no pub is listed for Ben Rhydding, as the pub in questiob is in fact closer to Ilkley; to make-up for this, traditionally two drinks are consumed at the Shipley stop, owing to the pub's proximity, cheap prices and welcoming atmosphere.

Bradford Forster Square - The City Vaults
Frizinghall - The Old Barn
Shipley - Sir Norman Rae (A J.D.Wetherspoons Pub)
Baildon - The Halfway House
Guiseley - The Station
Menston - The Fox
Burley-in-Wharfedale - The Red Lion Hotel
Ben Rhydding -
Ilkley - The Yard

Due to its lengthy nature, participants are often quite inebriated by the end of this pub crawl, and care must be taken to drink responsibly and respect the alcohol licensing laws of the UK. Please note also that this pub crawl is organised 'as is' and there is no endorsement from any of the 'participating' establishments.
Traditionally, the crawl is undertaken by former students of a Bradford school, although the base of participants is growing with each annual crawl.

2010 marks the Fourth Annual Wharfe Valley Pub Crawl.


The Glasgow Subway "sub crawl" requires participants to drink from a pub near each of the stations on the circular route. Two similar events are the Circle Line Pub Crawl involving London's Circle Line[8] (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,[9] the "Bambi Walk" has been crawled, unorganized, since the 1980s.

Pub crawling has become a tourism category, with UK tour operators offering weekend pub crawls to former Eastern Bloc countries, and Australian touring company Thirsty Swagman offering a round-the-world pub crawl tour.[10]

The Beacon New York pub crawl attracts around 3000 people from all over New York. Proceeds from the sale of wrist bands goes to families in need.

The Buenos Aires Pub Crawl is the biggest organized pub crawl in South America, operating four nights a week and involving groups of between 15 and 250 pub crawlers.[11] There is also a sister pub crawl in Santiago, Chile.[12]

Minneapolis, Minnesota started a zombie-themed pub crawl in 2005 that has become an annual tradition for the city.[13] 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.[14] Following Minnesota's lead, zombie-themed pub crawls have now spread to multiple cities including Philadelphia,[15] Chicago,[16] and Washington DC.[17] []

Monopoly Board Pub Crawl

A Monopoly pub crawl is a pub crawl involving the visiting of public houses on each of the streets of a city which appear on that city's version of the Monopoly board. This is most commonly done in London, following the British version of the game, but could just as easily be applied to anywhere else having a dedicated Monopoly board and a sufficient quantity of pubs or bars.

Santa Claus theme

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.[18]. 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$40-50,000 in donated toys for the Salvation Army, and making the event now the largest of its type in the world.[19]

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,” said Eric Helmuth, spokesman for Join Together, a Boston University health group that is fighting the jolly 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.""[20] The international SantaCon is another event that sees seasonal crawls.

Old Guildfordians Pub Crawl

Every year, on the last Saturday before Christmas, a pub crawl is organised by the alumni of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford and takes place in London. Usually based around a theme (so far themes have included the Monopoly Pub Crawl, James Bond films and the Jubilee Line), 20 pubs or so are visited in the course of one day, and a fancy dress theme is often employed.

See also


  1. ^ Dalzell, Tom. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. TF-ROUTL, 2005.
  2. ^ Tim The Tourman
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Ghent Bar Tour
  6. ^ Beer Day from
  7. ^ Bar Golf USA
  8. ^ "The Circle Line Pub Crawl". 
  9. ^ Stuff Magazine
  10. ^ Thirsty Swagman
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Santas on pub crawl - Local News - News - General - Illawarra Mercury
  19. ^ Christmas pub crawl sets record, Illawarra Mercury, 14th Dec, 2009
  20. ^ Heslam, Jessica, and James Hinton. "Running of the Santas bad for kids, groups say Ho, ho, hold it! Boozefest slammed". Boston Herald, December 12, 2008. Accessed January 17, 2009.


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