Brighton best city for a night out

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Seaside scenes: Brighton crowned most vibrant late night city (credit: Getty/ Pavel Babic)
Seaside scenes: Brighton crowned most vibrant late night city (credit: Getty/ Pavel Babic)

Related tags Brighton Property

Brighton has topped lists as the UK’s best place for a night out, but more than half (54%) of cities have seen nightlife go downhill over the past decade.

 ​The Night Out Index​ measured the number of licensed bars, restaurants, and clubs per 10,000 people. It analysed the state of the night time economy across more than 100 major towns and cities in England and Wales. 

The research released today (10 May) by policy consultancy Public First reveals the state of the UK’s night-time economy amid huge pressures on the sector, including high energy bills, reduced footfall and changing consumer habits. 

Just under half (46%) of major towns and cities have seen an improvement in nightlife over the past decade, while 54% have seen a deterioration. 

Since 2012, the number of pubs and bars in the UK has plummeted by 10% while the number of licensed clubs declined by 28%.  

In total, this represented a decline of around 7,000 establishments across the country. However, the number of licensed restaurants rose by 30%, amounting to 8,700 new options for eating out. 

Levelling up

Public First found the vibrancy of nightlife varies across the country. Brighton topped the list, with a night out index score of 24.6, followed by Bath and York. Chester took fourth place, with Shrewsbury coming in at fifth. 

Bottom of the list is Slough, with a night out index score of 4.4. Bracknell, Basildon and Salford also round off the chart’s bottom five cities. 

According to Public First, the index suggested regional variations in nightlife vibrancy were more nuanced than a simplistic north-south divide, with towns around London, like Bracknell and High Wycombe, scoring relatively poorly on the index (110 and 97 place).  

Northern towns like Wakefield and Halifax, coming in at 19th​ and 13th​ place, score well in comparison. 

Public First data & modelling team director Scott Corfe said: “Our Night Out Index​ reveals big differences in the health of the night time economy in different parts of the country, as well as some major changes in the make-up of the night time economy with the shift towards restaurants.“ 

He said it was encouraging to see the night time economy contributing to ‘levelling up’ in the North of England. 

“However,” he added, “with the Night Out Index​ declining in over half of towns and cities over the past decade, much needs to be done to strengthen the night time economy elsewhere.” 

When looking at the change in the Night Out Index score over the decade between 2012 and 2022, Leeds, Liverpool and Halifax led the way with a circa 20% hike in the per capita number of night time establishments. 

Changing habits

Meanwhile, Rochdale, Mansfield and Dudley saw the biggest declines in the index over this period, plummeting by 29.3%, 28.3% and 27.8% respectively. 

Across the country, there has also been a big shift towards eating out rather than just drinking out at night. 

Public First director Mike Crowhurst added: “Our Night Out Index​ is a reminder ‘levelling up’ is about the quality of life people enjoy, as well as how they work, travel and learn. 

“Local leadership and investment in arts, culture and hospitality have helped make some of our Northern towns and cities much more attractive places to live, but others have fallen behind.” 

As the night-time economy evolves, Crowhurst said action was needed to arrest the growing divides between towns and cities and ensure people across the country had access to a great night out. 

Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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