If you have an aversion to all things pink and fluffy, loathe ‘L’ plates and feather boas, and prefer butlers with their clothes firmly on, your tummy might turn when you get that invite to a hen party WhatsApp group.
If an alternative style hen party is more your vibe, Wales is your playground. There are plenty of activities offering a welcome departure from the debauchery associated with traditional hen parties, covering budgets from Harry and Meghan to something you don't need to be royalty to afford! Think retreats in the wilderness, serene SUP sessions, vineyards in the Welsh version of Napa Valley and even a gothic castle ghost hunt.
Wales’ answer to Bordeaux
Your gal pals might know their Merlot from their Malbec, but do they know how many wonderful wines are created right here in Wales?
Weekends abroad in the wine regions of France and Italy are costly and unnecessary when plenty of Wales’ most beautiful vineyards offer wine tasting and tours right here. The beautiful Vale of Glamorgan is the setting for Llanerch Vineyard, where wine tasting, vineyard tours, afternoon tea and restaurant dining are all available. If the sun is shining, the outdoor terrace overlooking the vines is the perfect place to enjoy a glass or two of their Cariad Wine - and as cariad means sweetheart in English, what could be more fitting?
A ghoulish ghost hunt at Craig y Nos Castle
If you’re after a sleepover of the sinister variety, this Victorian gothic castle is known as the most haunted in Wales. Once a sanatorium for children with TB, Craig y Nos Castle was also the former estate of acclaimed 19th century opera singer, Adelina Patti - once one of the world’s most famous women. The slab room where Patti's body was embalmed is situated in the Castle’s cellar.
According to television's Most Haunted crew, the salt cellar houses a 'particularly' nasty guy and if your party can brave some serious ghost-hunting, overnight paranormal investigation events are open to those who dare. Complete with scientific and spiritual experiments carried out throughout the night, this is not one for the easily spooked.
And if all that ghoulish activity causes a thirst, rest assured that the castle's Cross Bar offers warming spirits of a welcoming variety, and the tour includes a full breakfast late the next morning.
The ‘Zen’ Party
Say so-long to socially awkward scenarios and overbearing ‘organised fun’ at The Zest Life. Hen weekends take place at Plas Cadnant, Gwynedd, in a stylish, secluded country house on the Isle of Anglesey. Hen guests are often meeting for the first time, and the experience can help connect erstwhile strangers. Nestled in 21 acres of private parkland with views over Snowdon, a meandering river, magical waterfalls and lazy meadows provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor yoga sessions. Other activities in the area include zip lining, kayaking, coasteering, mountain biking, and horse riding. Namaste.
Workshops with flower power
If your hen is a platform to celebrate your creative, fun and feminine side, a flower arranging workshop might be just the ticket. Master your own romantic bridal bouquet as you’re taught the techniques behind hand-tied marvels of flora and fauna. Love, Lily Flower School is situated in the picturesque market town of Abergavenny. There at the design studio, groups of up to fifteen can surround themselves with the scent of fresh flowers and work to create floral magic. With a variety of packages available Love, Lily can provide all materials, flowers and sundries, as well as catering, refreshments and even champagne.
Picture perfect Portmeirion
Filled with fantastical Italianate-inspired houses and ornate gardens, the pretty pocket of madness that is Portmeirion is a village like no other. Expect enviably Insta-worthy backdrops, lovely enough to convince family back home you’ve spent the weekend in Florence. Stay the night at the waterfront Hotel Portmeirion, and enjoy their a la carte menu and a d'hôte menu that changes daily. The hotel’s Mermaid Spa also offers relaxation packages, complete with massages and clay and seaweed facials.
Adventure on the Wye
Canoe, Kayak or SUP (that’s stand-up paddleboarding) your way along the idyllic River Wye and enjoy a truly unspoiled stretch of river. You can paddle for a few hours or days, setting up camp along the way.
Paddlers report sightings of kingfishers, sandmartins, herons, grebes and even the occasional otter. Ideal for beginners, the route has only a few small rapids. You can paddle downstream and reach the small market town of Hay-on-Wye, where there are plenty of hostelries serving up a sumptuous lunch to reward your efforts.
Exploring the outdoors is fantastic fun, but please read up on the risks and make sure you are prepared.
- Find safety advice for exploring Wales' National Parks and safety tips for staying safe on the Welsh coast, on the Visit Wales website.
- Visit AdventureSmart.uk for information on how to stay safe whilst exploring Wales.