Doing the Otley Run in Fancy Dress: Our Guide

18 pubs, 18 pints. That statement brings back a few memories. With my years of experience doing the Otley Run pub and bar crawl (some I remember, many I don’t) I’ve picked up a few tips, which I’m going to offer you today. Most of these tips will apply to bar crawls across the country, so if you’re not based in Leeds you might still find them useful.

People dressed as tourists on the Otley run

I’ve already produced an Otley run route guide so I won’t go into that again. Instead I’m going to look at a few costume options for guys and girls, why it’s important to consider the weather, cost and a bit of advice when it comes to the drinking side of the game.


Costume Ideas and Tips for the Otley Run

 A group of Smurfs

Image Source:

With hundreds of costumes on offer for you to wear it’s important to wear the right one considering you’ll be in it for most of the day and evening. It’s also worth noting that an expensive costume isn’t necessary for you to have a good time. In fact spending less money on your costume will fund your drinking on the day. Actually, buy yourself some food with the money you save, your body deserves that much.

  1. Before you decide on what to wear it’s important to consider which venues will allow you in wearing it. On Friday and Saturday nights some bars and clubs won’t let you in wearing fancy dress, so ask around to see where will allow you access or change the day you go out. Most venues are happy for you to enter if it’s a weekday but for the love of God don’t cock up your degree by missing classes or lectures due to the hangover. I’ve seen it happen, how we laughed at the time. It doesn’t seem quite so funny anymore.
  2. Pick a good group of trusted people to do it with. The people you go out with make a night what it is, not a venue.
  3. Pub golf is a popular choice as hole numbers on a golf course can be set against the number of pubs on the Otley run. Many people wear gordy plaid trousers and produce pub golf score cards where you record the drinks you have at each venue. It can make for some really depressing reading the next morning but the costumes are a ton of fun to wear.
  4. Pulling your group together and deciding on a single theme is very common. You’ll always see groups of smurfs, doctors and nurses, superheroes, movie characters, the cast of a TV show such as Baywatch, monks and nuns or tourists (see the picture at the top of the page) but chosing something more original can make your group stand out.
  5. Wear comfortable footwear. You’re probably going to be walking between the bars so wear shoes that are comfortable. Ladies, pop a pair of flats in your bag if you’re going to wear heels. Swap over to flats for the walk, you’ll thank me later. Either that or get a bus ticket for the route.
  6. Check the weather and buy accordingly. If you’re walking between venues in the middle of December wearing little more than a bikini top and hot pants then tell me you’re cold I’ll have no sympathy for you. A pairs of tights or leggings, long socks and a shrug are all ways of covering up without compromising your look. An umbrella is also worth taking out with you if there’s any sign of rain.


Drinking Games Advice

Two cocktails on a bar

Image Source: 4linesoffrequencies

Unfortunately for some of you I keep these guides professional and informative rather than regale you with tales of my misspent youth. I can only apologise. Instead I’m going to attempt to give you some words of wisdom based on my experience, and the others I shared it with, so that you can make the best of your own Otley run.

I don’t condone binge drinking, but seeing as most of you will go out and do it anyway I thought it best to offer some practical tips. Now I know most of you will dismiss this advice and simply go out with the sole intention of getting drunk to the point of a black out. You’ll think it’s cool and something we should all do while we’re young. Some will say it gives you memories to tell your friends about for years to come and helps to build character. To some extent this is true, but there’s a way of doing it properly and more importantly safely.

Here’s a list of the best advice I can offer if you’re planning to go on the Otley run.

  1. First and foremost if you’re going out to do the Otley run on your own, seek help. Going it alone likely means you have a drinking problem, please do seek help.
  2. Start early and pace yourself. Have a good breakfast in the morning and start at a reasonable time. You’ve got a lot of drinking and walking ahead of you, so start early so you don’t have to rush it. We used to get to our first pub between 1pm – 2pm and finished well beyond 11pm. Beginning after 5pm is crazy and I advise against it.
  3. Drink plenty of water and eat some food along the way. No, it’s not cheating, it’s being smart. If you don’t get hangovers yet you soon will and it’ll feel like a solid kick to the teeth. Make sure you leave a pint of water or better still a bottle full next to your bed before you go out. As soon as you get home try to drink it all. You’ll thank me for that one in the morning.
  4. Look for low alcohol options or dilute your drinks with a mixer. 18 pints of beer is a lot of alcohol to drink (if you’re doing the full list of bars and pubs), so consider having a few shandy’s to limit your intake. Alternatively some shots such as Corkies have a lower alcohol volume, so think about having one of these every few places you visit.
  5. Following on from the last tip it’s also important to note that drinks with a lower alcohol volume are generally cheaper. Buying a drink in every pub you visit will get expensive, so consider how much you have to spend before you start.
  6. Avoid mixing too many drinks. Having a concoction of wine, beer and spirits flowing through your system is going to end is disaster. Stick to at most two different drinks and know what your limit is.
  7. Don’t drink too many energy drinks. Drinking too many vodka red bulls or jagerbombs will do no favours for your heart. Limit your intake to a couple of cans or bottles throughout the day and you should be fine. If you get tired and weary, go home to bed!
  8. Ignore the bullies. If you’re a slow drinker don’t allow the faster beer guzzlers to drag you along with them. Pace yourself and move onto the next pub when you’re ready, not before.
  9. Take a none drinker out with you and pay for their drinks! Having someone around who doesn’t drink alcohol to organise the group is very beneficial. In exchange for their help consider buying them a few soft drinks as they’re doing you all a big favour.
  10. Safety first. I don’t think this final tip goes without saying, but based on my experience and seeing endless groups out on the Otley run I might be wrong. Please take care of yourselves and the people around you (I’ve always wanted that Jerry Springers final thought moment).


To all of you that go on the Otley run, good luck, as you’ll certainly need it.

On a personal note (I know, I can’t help myself) the Otley run can be a fantastic experience. If you go out with the right group and have a unified attitude to the occasion you should have a brilliant time. Take lots of pictures early as you’ll probably forget later in the day.

If you’ve been on an Otley run and have a few pictures that you’d like to have featured please let me know. You can get in touch with us via our Facebook, Twitter or contact us directly via the link at the top of the page.

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About the Author: David Hayler

The owner of Otley Run Fancy Dress and a fancy dress guru. He's also an amateur photographer who has experience with cosplay and costume photography.

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