“The TT races in the Isle of Man aren’t just about the bikes” declares Mark Womack, in a TT focused episode of TVs Booze Britain “and they’re not just about the drinking”. The programme was trying to lift the lid on the UK’s binge drinking ‘epidemic’, but never a truer sentence has been spoken than in this opening line. The TT isn’t just about the bikes, or the booze. It’s about both. A beautiful romance made in Heaven. The stuff that folk tales are written about. A relationship both symbiotic and co-dependent. If bikes are the hot chocolate, then booze is the whipped cream. Sure… you could have one without the other, but why would you… and go on, throw some sprinkles on there for good measure.
For many, the Après TT is equally as important as the racing, particularly for those sensitive-eared fun haters who don’t enjoy the racing at all. If you’re wondering what I mean by Après then, like me, you’ve never been lucky enough (or middle-class enough) to engage in the sport of skiing, and your C in GCSE French really isn’t cutting it. Après Ski is the time after the day’s sliding has ended when everyone dons their brightest tracksuit and migrates to a bar for a few scoops of the finest local ale. This is a practice we’re very used to in the Isle of Man, but instead of sliding down hills we spend the day sitting on top of bushes, in hedges, and on walls, all the while watching men hurl themselves down our main roads at ridiculous speeds.
Whilst skiers get their daily work out from finally taking on that elusive black run, we get it from climbing barbed wire fences, scrambling through gaps in trees and raising ourselves onto stone walls for a better view, all whilst hauling along a crate or two and a couple of Tesco meal deals. Then, when all the excitement is over, and all that’s left is the smell of petrol, burnt rubber and the soiled underwear of TT newcomers, we make the long and arduous journey from whatever armpit of the island we’ve found ourselves in, to Douglas for the Après. There, the night is spent continuing the drinking, bumping into every single Manx person you have ever known, and dancing to all the old school biker music you could possibly want or need – and we love it every year.
So, if all of this wasn’t enough to excite you for this year’s TT, we’ve gathered together all of the venues and events for 2019’s Après so you can take your pick… you booze hounds.
The Heron & Brearley paddock bar is back again after a successful inaugural event. Parked right next to the Grandstand, there was no better place last year to soak in the atmosphere of the TT whilst supping on a cold pint and watching grown men get humiliated by their own children on the new TT game.
The Trackside team have a whole schedule of live music set to rival Bushy’s TT Village, offering a smaller and more intimate atmosphere. Food is available ‘til 9pm each night from Bella Pizza.
All this with an EPIC view of the start line? What more could you ask for??
Bushy’s TT Village
In 2018, when the Hooded Ram took over Bushy’s old stomping grounds, many thought it was the end for the beloved Beer Tent. Thousands of middle-aged bikers wept in their beds at night, cradling their favourite Bushy’s sticker and listening to ACDC’s Thunderstruck on repeat. The Ram had beaten the Fox, and all those years of hazy, ale fogged TT memories were lost to the ages. But no… Bushy’s rose like a Phoenix from the ashes and was bigger and better than ever. Some called it the greatest comeback since Ali’s rumble in the Jungle, since Liverpool in Istanbul, since Jon Snow. Now, it seems like the Bushy’s village is here to stay and they’ve got a solid line up for this year’s festivities.
Nothing says TT like beer and some live music, and like last year the Bushy’s stage will host the best of island talent, such as Maldune, Buncha Skankers and Foxtrap along with some UK bands. The Village will have all the cuisine your drunken heart could desire with various food stalls dotted around the site. Big Bushy’s boss Martin Brunnschweiler has also aired his desire to tackle the one big problem with last year’s attempts… The queuing, with his main focus being on the bar and the women’s toilets. With around 120,000 people entering the venue over the fortnight, the queues were ridiculous at times, and the main tent was full of desperate dry-mouthed bikers jostling for position in front of the bar.
This year however, there’s the introduction of a que jump and VIP bar, for just £10 you can skip the crazy queue outside, grab yourself a pint and laugh at the peasants scrambling at the main bar from your pedestal atop the colonnade. There are also a whole horde of ticketed events featuring an artisanal BBQ from the awesome folks from 14North, prices start at £45.
Last year Bushy’s was pressed for time to find a new location, book entertainment and set up the lay out. Now, with a little more preparation they should be more than ready for the barrage of drunken bikers fast approaching. The brewery’s relationship with the TT is as old as time itself, and for that it will always be loved.
TT Hospitality Unit
With a name as practical as it is boring the TT Hospitality Unit is another option if you fancy splashing the cash a little this year. Usually known as the tent in the paddock where all the big shots go to sip champagne from gold chalices after the day’s racing, this year they’re also putting on some live entertainment for the common folk like you and me (but don’t go near the champagne that’s not for you).
Carl Cox will be performing here, after making his regular trip to the Isle of Man to support his motorsport team, along with Geordie comedian Chris Ramsey if you fancy some laughs. The Feeling (remember them?) will also be bringing their unique blend of pop rock to the tent, and as luck would have it they’re celebrating their 12thj year anniversary of the 12 stops and Home album, meaning certified bangers only. You’re looking at around £40 for each performer but who wouldn’t pay that to hear The Feeling belt out that whole album front to back.
Last year, the Hooded Ram offered us an alternative to the old faithful Bushy’s beer tent. We finally had a choice on those sun-drenched afternoons when the day’s racing was done and our thirst could only be quenched by a local ale. It was the perfect mix as the competition meant that both tents upped their game and the crowds were spread between two main venues. The lay out and positioning of the Hooded Ram tent was akin to the Bushy’s tent we thought was lost, suiting the more nostalgic fans, and it was often the quieter option if you didn’t want to wait half an hour for a pint.
Sadly, the Hooded Ram Festival won’t have a sequel (this year anyway). The local brewery haven’t secured the rights to the bottleneck carpark for this TT and as a result have had to cancel any plans for 2019. So, what does this mean for the Après? As of yet, it isn’t clear whether there will be anything taking the place of the Hooded Ram tent. It could be that this year the bottleneck is empty but for tumbleweeds and old, lost Bikers searching for their beloved Bushy’s “I swear Big Dave, it was right here when we came last”. This will definitely mean more people in Bushy’s, which although good for business is bad for the queuing punter, but have no fear, there are a few other new Douglas options which could ease the flow.
That’s right. Peggy’s is back. And it’s bigger and pinker than ever. She throws her doors wide open again on Friday 24th May all the way until Senior Race Day. That’s 14 whole nights of neon fun + frolics to be had!
If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Peggy yet, she’s an extra fancy discotheque that popped up in December 2018 for a good time, but not a very long time. If live music isn’t your bag, Peggy is the point of difference, offering an impressive line-up of local DJ’s, spinning everything from Disco to House, R+B and they’re even throwing a whole Drum + Bass evening…
They’ve ton of options from guestlist entry (basically a free queue jump), table bookings and private room hire for corporates and party people alike. They allow bookings for groups as small as 2, or as big as 200, so even if you want to bring your whole horde of new biker friends. Peggy’s is the perfect option for the Après. Just look for the big pink doors.
Full details and booking options at www.peggys.im
If you like your drinks a little more high-class than a beer in a plastic cup, then look no further. 1886 is the new cocktail bar in town, positioned just over the road from the prom. It looks pretty-damn swanky, so if you’re the type of person who would rather enjoy a Manhattan after a thirsty day bike-watching, then throw on that monocle and iron your best socks cause this is the place for you.
Front porch is another exciting new bar soon to be opening on Duke Street. They advertise as a ‘no frills, sports and live music bar hell-bent on making sure everyone has a time to remember (or not)’, and they’re stocking up on the finest local ales, spirits and music to do just do that. With ten high quality screens it could be the new place in town for all the sports fans.
Outside of the Capital:
If one day the glitz and glamour of the capital get too much for you and you want a break from the smoke and humdrum of the city streets, then we’ve got a couple of very appetising options out in the country where you could wet your whistle.
What if the week’s bike races aren’t enough for you? What if petrol runs in your veins? What if you get out of bed in your Michael Dunlop jammies, brush your teeth with WD-40 and wash it down with a big old can of ‘f*ck the man’? Well, have no fear little petrol head, there is more racing on offer, and now this racing comes with another 3-day music festival.
Ramsey commissioners are putting on the festival in an attempt to keep visitors up North. Starting on Mad Sunday and ending on Tuesday to coincide with the Ramsey Sprint event, the festival will have bands performing each night and food from local vendors. With a tasty £15,000 budget it should be something to rival some of the Douglas entertainment, and potentially worth the long trip north of the wall.
Foraging Vintners Secret Garden @ Black Dub
If that ham sandwich and warm can of fosters just isn’t going to cut it this year and you would prefer a nice cold glass of cider and some warm grub whilst you watch the action, then look no further. The Black Dub is a viewing area on the 9th mile of the TT course. They’ll be serving warm food and this year playing host to a Foraging Vintners pop up bar. FV have just unveiled their Longtail Cider, the newest product to come from their seaside winery in Port Erin, and we can’t wait to get our hands on one.