Restaurant, pub and bar events that dazzle guests and make them want to come back are only achieved with great planning.
The first step is to find a creative event concept. This step might be the most frustrating for some, so we’ve detailed 30 of our favourite bar and restaurant event ideas here to get you started.
Keeping your business going means always thinking of ways to get customers in the door. While great food is a must, a restaurant owner or manager still needs to think of creative restaurant promotion ideas that guests will love.
1. Wine tastings and Winemakers’ dinners
With wine tastings, guests get the chance to learn more about wine and enjoy their favourites. Consider basing your event on different vintages or regions – like the 5 best wines of South Africa or the wines that put Italy on the map.
If you have a sommelier on staff, perfect! If not, invite one to talk about the wines. For extra profit, pair the wine tasting with a dessert or cheese tasting. With prepaid tickets, these add-ons are easily purchased in advance, giving you more time to prepare.
With a winemakers’ dinner, guests have the opportunity to taste a selection of wines in a whole new way: properly paired with delicious foods, and with background on the grapes, the wine and the reasons why they taste so exquisite with each carefully selected course. It’s a chance for your chef to partner with a winemaker for a truly unique event.
2. Beer tastings
A beer tasting works like a wine tasting. Guests learn about the ingredients and the brewing process and get to sample. Try partnering with a local brewery to share the costs and use their social media following to promote your event.
3. Dinner and a lecture
When it comes to dinner and lecture events, take a note from Madklubben’s playbook. They schedule regular lectures that include everything from true crime to lifestyle coaching. And it all comes with a prepaid ticket for a 3-course sharing menu and all-you-can-drink beer and wine (which always makes true crime lectures that much more intense).
The best part about this type of restaurant event is that they work great for weekdays – when business is usually slower.
4. Four-hands dinner (Six-hands dinner)
A four-hands dinner is a type of collaborative chefs’ dinner where 2 or more chefs cook together for an unforgettable fine-dining experience. From delicious courses to expertly-paired wines, the only limitation is the size of your kitchen.
5. Chef swaps
Inviting a guest chef gives old guests a reason to return and new guests a reason to book a table. Check out how Restaurant Barr does it by offering a set menu and beer.
6. Guest bartender events
This restaurant event is the same as a guest chef night but with a bartender creating new drinks to add to your menu and bring in new guests. Take it a step further and have them teach customers how to make their favourite cocktails.
7. Food tastings
The trick with a food tasting is to offer something special and unique – something not typically found on your menu. Consider menus ranging from vegetarian, gluten-free, pasta-based or soup-focussed, or celebrate a specific region like the Nordics or Campania in Italy.
8. Charity events
Hosting a charity event is a great way to get involved with the community. Take Restaurant Barr as an example. In support of The World Wide Fund for Nature’s Australian bushfire campaign, they partnered with other restaurants in Copenhagen (Iluka, Noma, 108) to create a tasting menu with dishes from each of the participating restaurants, and wines from Lieu Dit and Rosforth & Rosforth. 100% of the ticket price went to the fund.
9. Christmas events
From large holiday parties to intimate Christmas Eve dinners, make your restaurant the place to be this holiday season. Be inspired by Michelin-starred Pru and their Christmas Eve experience – a 6-course menu with premium beverage pairing.
Christmas events aren’t reserved for fine-dining establishments. Sliders in Copenhagen makes use of the holiday season by attracting smaller crowds hungry for something besides the usual Christmas fare (julefrokost in Danish).
And don’t forget the companies looking for a place to host their annual Christmas lunch or dinner. Click here to see how Bistro17 Bar & Grill does festive with a set sharing menu and entertainment all evening – plus a free bar as an add-on.
10. New Years’ Eve parties
New Year’s Eve is the night where guests search for the best place to go – and tickets go quickly. Plan an event on New Year’s Eve that offers delicious food and plenty to drink. Just don’t forget the champagne when the clock strikes midnight.
Whether you’re looking for an event to pack your bar on a slow night or an event to give your pub guests something to talk about, check out this list of the best 20 bar event ideas — guaranteed to attract customers to your pub or bar.
1. Trivia nights
Themed trivia nights are a big hit and don’t take a lot of work – just a host, a mic, questions and prizes. Choose topics based on popular shows like Game of Thrones or the MCU. Or buy the classic Trivial Pursuit and save yourself from making questions from scratch.
2. Board game nights
Pull out your favourite board games and you’ve got an instant bar event. You can even let guests bring their own. The best part of this type of event? Chances are guests invite their friends and save you that much extra work in marketing.
3. Bar Olympics
If you’re not afraid of a rowdy crowd, set up a night of Bar Olympics and play rounds of beer pong, darts, Jenga or even Cards Against Humanity. Encourage guests to decide on teams before they arrive (encourages more attendees), choose a country and see who gets the gold.
4. Charity events
Partner with a charity and host a bar event for a good cause. Donate the proceeds from a signature drink or split the earnings from the night. Remember to invite a representative from the charity to speak (or at least mingle and explain what they’re about) and use their social media to invite guests – and strengthen your network.
5. Singles nights
Hosting a singles night at your bar or pub provides guests (the single ones, anyway) with an opportunity to meet others. Turn the night into a lock and key party – give guests either a lock or a key and tell them to find their match. It’s like forced mingling… but fun.
6. Couples nights
After a few successful singles nights, it’ll be time to organise a couples night. Couples games, like a faux dating show and 2-for-1 drink specials are ideal for a night that celebrates married or dating couples.
7. Karaoke nights
You might want to grab your earplugs for this one. The global karaoke market will reach $5733.77 million by 2024. For a piece of those profits, you can sit through a night of “My Heart Will Go On”.
8. Networking events
Targeting specific groups like young professionals or women entrepreneurs and industries like finance or advertising almost always draw a crowd. This type of event takes little planning and works best if you partner with a professional networking group in your area.
9. Theme nights
With a theme night at your pub or bar, your guests won’t have to wait for Halloween to dress up. From 80s neon to the goatees of the 2000s, theme nights are fun ways to pack your bar. You can even serve drinks from that period and offer prizes for the best dressed.
10. Sporting events
Want a bar event that takes almost 0 planning? Turn on the TV and host a sports viewing event around whatever fight, game or match that’s on.
11. Viewing parties
Speaking of stuff on TV, there’s more out there than just the game. Focus on finales, once-a-year events like the Academy Awards, or classic movies like Back to the Future.
Take it further by creating signature drinks based on what you’re seeing.
12. Live music
If your bar or pub has the space, offer live music as a way to draw crowds. Don’t just stick to music that you typically play in your bar – a local jazz band may attract a different crowd than an acoustic performance.
13. Stand-up comedy nights
For this type of event, all you need is a mic stand in the corner and a lineup of comedians… amateur or pro. Check local theatre groups for help with the talent portion of the night. The best part is that each comedian will have their following – that’s a new audience for your bar.
14. Beer and cocktail tastings
Create an experience with an event that offers guests the chance to taste what’s new on tap. You could even make it VIP by limiting the number of tickets available and bringing in limited-edition brews.
Do the same with new cocktails and drinks. It’s a great way to test a new idea before making it public. And if the new drink does well, it can become a regular, chosen by your guests.
15. Bartending masterclass
From whiskey to the history of the mojito, this is your chance to showcase your bartender’s knowledge and passion for their craft. Organise this bar event as a demonstration or limit the number of tickets and let guests get hands-on with mixology.
16. Cocktail workshop
Be inspired by the cocktail workshops hosted by Gedulgt in Aarhus, Denmark. Here, guests learn to make 2 different, preselected cocktails. As an upsell, they offer a different package with finger foods and snacks.
17. Bartending demonstration
Host a bartending demonstration and give your bartenders a chance to flex. Have your best bartenders dazzle guests with flying bottles and flaming drinks, and watch the crowds come in to taste their talents.
Is there something happening in your city that will draw a crowd? Where will they go after that? With the right marketing strategy, you can turn your bar or pub into the unofficial afterparty. Or contact the event organisers and make it official.
19. Celebrate the holidays
While you could celebrate random holidays like Backward Day (January 31) or Wear Pajamas to Work Day (April 16), we suggest you focus on holidays that real people know – Christmas, NYE, even Halloween and Valentine’s. And don’t forget seasonal drinks that match the theme. What would Santa drink?
20. Anything you can think of
We added this one to say… any event will work if you believe in it. It’s true. Apollo Bar and Kantine uses their courtyard to host everything from flea markets to jazz festivals and lectures. And Copenhagen’s BaneGaarden gives local produce a chance to shine with farmer’s markets.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box… and sometimes that box means your actual space. Restaurant Gustu in Bolivia offers to go to your company’s facilities or your home for a memorable gastronomic experience.
Is there a beach nearby that you can use? A park? A restaurant you can partner with? Another local event to join? The possibilities are endless.
All it takes is your passion for magical guest experiences and an all-in-one platform (reservations, point-of-sale and payments) like Superb to help you market your event and sell tickets.
You can’t run a business based solely on people celebrating the arrival of the weekend. Having events at your bar helps drive traffic on less busy days, and they’re a great way to stand out in a crowded industry.
And for anyone who ever asked how can I make my bar fun? The answer is… host events like the ones listed above.
Bar events also give you a chance to show off your creative side. From signature cocktails to the personalised guest experience your bar is known for, unique events let you showcase what makes your business different.
And that, in turn, opens your business to a whole new group of potential customers.