Luke Blackall: Drunk on culture as the season of stags is upon us

We binged on painting after painting, knocking back Turners and inhaling the Pre-Raphaelites
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The Independent Online

The stag party didn't officially begin until the evening, but three of us headed to Manchester in the morning to start things early. Arriving at lunchtime, we did what any thirsty young stags would do: we went to the nearest art gallery.

At the Manchester Art Gallery we binged on painting after painting, knocking back Turners and inhaling the Pre-Raphaelites. Drunk on culture, we couldn't stop ourselves and headed somewhere where we could see things of beauty stripped bare. That's right, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry (where i recently held a party for our readers), to see computers, engines, trains and planes in their purest forms. The rest of the weekend wasn't quite so restrained, however the terms of the confidentiality agreement that I'm told I signed – mean that I can't share it here.

But the season of stag and hen parties is one that many will know well, either as participants or observers. From the end of January to the beginning of June, hoards of 25-35-year-olds fill the nation's town centres and budget airlines, where they can be spotted drinking like a frightening combination of students and football hooligans.

In Manchester we encountered loads of them, as though the herds were all magnetically drawn to one another. Like dogs passing each other in the street, the groups would give a quick sniff, before heading on.

Over recent years the stag/hen has morphed from a single night out to an entire weekend (and in some cases a full week). Recently a friend reported that a Las Vegas stag had to be scaled down slightly as not everyone was keen on spending £1200+ on a few days of excess. Another went to the stag of someone who had actually called off their wedding, but as tickets/novelty t-shirts had been bought the trip went ahead.

Indeed for many men it is more important and more of a time to enjoy themselves than the wedding itself – perhaps it is the opportunity for males who feel increasingly emasculated to get back in touch with their "inner-lad".

However, nothing seems to frighten men more than a clucking hen party. Particularly if the hen has invited her mad Auntie Jeanie.

But for either sex, the trend does not look like going away any time soon as it fulfils so perfectly three of the UK's favourite weekend activities: drinking to excess, dressing up and humiliating our very closest friends.