Milton Keynes nightlife sure has changed over the past decade. The best night club in Milton Keynes – The Empire, strikes back in this post as I share information on MK nightlife, featuring the best bars and clubs in Milton Keynes past and present; from nightclub nirvana to cocktail culture…
Bars and Clubs in Milton Keynes Past & Present
Dance clubs in Milton Keynes have dwindled over the last ten years, which is a real shame. Milton Keynes was widely known as one of the best places for nightlife in the UK with ravers travelling far and wide to dance the night away to drum n bass at The Sanctuary and old skool nights with ten-pound all you can drink at The Empire. These night clubs in Milton Keynes bring back fond memories for those who used them as a stomping ground in their youth (myself included!) Whilst a good night can still be had at Milton Keynes gay bar Pink Punters, which operates for the LBGTQ+ community, this remains the only night club in Milton Keynes where people can dance to varying genres of music on different night club floors. As dance culture has evolved over the last ten years, this has unfortunately resulted in the closure of these clubs and a shift away from nightclub culture in Milton Keynes. This has made way for restaurants to expand their bar areas and for the increase of bar culture in Milton Keynes. The main bars in Milton Keynes have moved away from the Theatre District (now known as 12th Street) and are more centrally found in The Hub, which is ideally located within walking distance of Milton Keynes Train Station if you are visiting from other areas.
Bars in The Hub Milton Keynes
The latest addition to the Milton Keynes nightlife scene is The Blossom Room in The Hub, Milton Keynes. The Japanese inspired bar, is a mecca for those searching for Instagram locations in Milton Keynes as the bar not only has pretty pink blossom hanging from the ceiling, it also has angel wings ready for a photo-opportunity and a neon “be cool Honey-bunny’ sign and quote from Pulp Fiction (coincidentally, one of my favourite films.) Trendy cocktails, music and bar food make for a great girls night out in Milton Keynes.
Flower-power doesn’t end with The Blossom Room in Milton Keynes, Slug & Lettuce also has a floral theme in its new location at The Hub. Slug & Lettuce occupies what was previously known as Missoula and has a similar vibe to Bar Med (for those who remember), which used to be my favourite bar in Milton Keynes. What I love most about the new look Slug & Lettuce is that they have moved the bar one end and the seating areas the other, which really opens up the space to dance (a feature lacking in most other bars in Milton Keynes.) The drinks are reasonably priced in Slug & Lettuce and they also have cocktails on their menu at two-for-one prices!
Be At One is a small cocktail bar in The Hub, which plays some great tunes if you are able to get in (it’s a very small venue indeed) and if you can afford the drinks, which are at the pricier end of the scale.
Banana Tree has been the destination for a few of my birthday meals and nights out in Milton Keynes as the Vietnamese cuisine isn’t too heavy to eat before a night out. I normally share the mango chicken and spicy beef with a friend. The Vietnamese and Thai inspired cocktails are the perfect accompaniment to the food and the swing seats are really fun too!
I have not eaten there before, the happy hour 241 cocktails at Turtle Bay are the real draw! Happy hour is before 6.30 pm and after 9.30 pm until close. My favourite cocktail at Turtle Bay is the Bahama Mama. I need to revisit and eat at Turtle Bay to try out the Caribbean menu, as well as work my way through the rest of the cocktail menu!
Can’t wait for happy hour? It’s non-stop happy hour at Las Iguanas Milton Keynes! This Latin American chain restaurant and bar has a fiesta of cocktails to feast upon. Read about the food and fiesta in my Las Iguanas review from the MK Press Night.
For those seeking a quieter, potentially more sophisticated affair, head to All Bar One. Adam and I used to love tucking into the gammon and eggs at All Bar One before a night out (it was the best gammon & eggs), unfortunately, it was removed from the menu so we haven’t visited in ages. The lack of music in All Bar One may be appealing for those who want to enjoy a few drinks and chat, though it’s always going to be music and dance for me!
Bars in 12th Street (previously known as The Theatre District)
Following the closure of Yates, Bar Me, Lloyds and other pubs and bars in Milton Keynes’ Theatre District over the year, 12th Street has not fully recovered. Those heading to 12th Street are most likely dining or drinking at Revolucion De Cuba or enjoying a pop party at Popworld.
Revolucion De Cuba has a great selection of cocktails on offer and some tasty tapas dishes, which are ideal light meals before a night out. Revolucion De Cuba Milton Keynes bottomless brunch deals are also a great choice for day-to-evening nights out. The tapas is 241 tapas if dining on a Sunday. As well as an extensive cocktail list, Revolucion De Cuba also serves Rekorderlig (my favourite cider) on draught. For those seeking nightlife in Milton Keynes, Revs De Cuba has a vibrant party atmosphere with a dancefloor area and a good mix of music to keep the revellers of Milton Keynes entertained. The bar staff at Revs De Cuba work very hard to serve everyone at the bar and always seem in good spirits too.
Nightlife and Bars Outside Central Milton Keynes
Pink Punters is Milton Keynes gay bar and it sure is the place to have a good time. Whilst not located in Central Milton Keynes, it is not too expensive to get a taxi to Pink Punters and there are always taxis outside at the end of the night. Bletchley railway station is the closest station to Pink Punters. Pink Punters is always my choice for a good night out in Milton Keynes as it’s fun atmosphere enables it to be enjoyed by one and all. Pink Punters is the place to dance the night away in Milton Keynes, with various floors to cater for all music tastes. I normally begin the night dancing on the main floor, which plays pop tunes and once I am well and truly merry I head down to the garage/grime/R&B room, before ending the evening in the house/trance/drum & bass room. I love a random night out with my work friends dancing the night away, followed by cheesy chips at the on-site Pink Punters restaurant. The open-air log fired smoking area, pool tables and variety of floors for all most music tastes makes Pink Punters a great night out, whether you are part of the LGBTQ+ community or not.
Taking you back to the oldskool cos I’m an old fool, who’s so cool!
Milton Keynes played a pivotal part of UK nightlife in the nineties with venues such as The Sanctuary and The Empire bringing in clubbers in their thousands from all over the country to see big-name acts such as The Prodigy, Eminem and hosting dance promoters including Dreamscape, Sidewinder and Slammin Vinyl to name a few.
The Empire, Milton Keynes
I hold very fond memories of my clubbing days at The Empire where I met my fiance and particularly loved their Old Skool nights; attending every Friday in school uniform to enjoy the All-You-Can-Drink for £10 offer. There was always a big group of us from Leighton Buzzard, my hometown who used to get the train every week up to Milton Keynes and we could always rely on the 3.30 am train back to get us home just in time for my best friend Jo to make us some cheese on toast! Before the days of inbuilt camera smartphones, all our Milton Keynes night out photos were taken on our cheap disposable cameras and we were all so excited to get the pictures of our nights out printed each week. We also loved browsing the club photos uploaded to Applebelly.com to reminisce and see who we had met; as this was a great place for meeting like-minded clubbers (RIP Dixon), with many I am still in contact with over social media. There was always plenty of room to dance and New Year’s Eve at The Empire was no exception. The Empire was the essence of my late teen years and aided my love of UK garage, jungle, trance and old skool music, with this being one of the many reasons why I still hold this venue dear today. As I write this post, I can still imagine the pictures of David Beckham and other 90s icons hanging from the ceiling. It makes me so thankful that I was able to grow up in this era, without smartphones and be able to make friends and dance the night away without distractions. As Adam has said, these days every venue has to be perfect and ready for Instagram. We both miss the club nights where all you could see were the flashes of faces from the neon strobe lights.
Saturdays were all about Bar Med for me and my group of friends, where we would go and dance to tunes such as Usher’s ‘You got it bad’ and Nelly’s ‘Rid with me’. And, of course, Fatman Scoop ‘Be faithful’ – ‘if my train goes off the track, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up..let’s go!
Gigs & Concerts at The Bowl (National Bowl Milton Keynes)
If I wasn’t living my best life at The Empire or Bar Med, I was more than likely enjoying a gig at The Bowl, Milton Keynes. It makes me so sad and angry that this has been sold off as a Milton Keynes Dons training ground. When I think of The Bowl, it takes me back to seeing The Prodigy, Take That, Oasis, Eminem, Kings of Leon and Bon Jovi in Milton Keynes with friends and family. As the Milton Keynes Bowl is within walking distance to Milton Keynes Train Station it made it so easy to travel and see concerts via train from my hometown of Leighton Buzzard. I also thoroughly enjoyed attending all the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) events at The MK Bowl, seeing the late and great Avicii and my favourites Tiesto, Martin Garrix and DJ EZ.
Farewell to Milton Keynes Nightlife as we know it…
For a while, I was hopeful The Point, Milton Keynes may be turned into a restaurant and club venue to make use of the old disused cinema areas, which in my mind would have been ideal as a nightclub or a place to watch music events with the tiered seating. The Point was once the key focus of the Milton Keynes skyline and was visible miles away, only to be left to deteriorate once Xscape opened and many (including me) were sorry to see its deterioration.
As you get older nights out do become fewer and far between, therefore I hope this post has given you ideas for places to go in Milton Keynes at night to enjoy MK nightlife. It will be interesting to see how the nightlife in Milton Keynes evolves over the years to come, particularly as club culture seems to have declined somewhat up and down the country with headline acts and DJs now more likely to appear at festivals rather than club events and increasing pressure on clubs with noise restrictions due to new-build developments. Sadly, The Stables where I have enjoyed great nights seeing David Bowie tributes is the latest venue under threat and we all need to do what we can to preserve the little nightlife we have in Milton Keynes, as well as support smaller independents in Milton Keynes. So, there you have it! A recap of my favourite nightclubs in Milton Keynes from the past and a lowdown of the best bars and clubs in Milton Keynes now! Check out my MK nightlife photos below! Where do you like to go for a night out in Milton Keynes? Let me know in the comments!
Inspired to find new places to eat in Milton Keynes?
Looking for the best pubs in Milton Keynes or inspiration for somewhere new to dine in and around Milton Keynes? I’ve got you covered – Check out my other Milton Keynes Food Reviews or click sample links below: