Blackpool, Newcastle, Riga. ancient Sparta?
It's not an obvious stag weekend destination, admittedly, but, aside from the need to invent a time machine, go to war against Athens and wear very little in the way of clothing, ancient Sparta really should be seen in the same light as it's more modern rivals as a stag party destination. Why? Because that's where the concept of stag nights began some 2,500 years ago - a soldier's toast to a friend about to get married.
Things have changed a bit, of course. The ancient Spartans were handier with a spear than a paintball gun, were rubbish at quad biking and tended to invade cities as a kind of national pastime. Don't try that on your stag night. It takes ages and you'll need to back in work on Monday.
So if you don't want the Spartan version of a damn good kegger then what sort of things should you be considering when putting together your stag weekend?
1. Friends (re)united
The first rule of an effective stag party is that they're pants if you do them on your own. So who's coming? Really close friends? That larger outer circle of people you call friends when the mood takes you (or when you want something)? Vague and casual acquaintances? Or will you just be inviting anyone from off the street?
The point is the more people you invite, and the less you know them, the more out on a limb you are in making your choice of activities, food, club, hotel etc. The bigger the stag party the bigger the logistical nightmare (unless you just hand the whole thing over to an experienced stag weekend organiser - something you should seriously consider (see below)).
Your stag party can be whatever size you like - but it's advisable to stick to your closer friends - the ones about whom you have a good grasp of their likes and dislikes. That way you can arrange something that most people will love and no-one will spend their time wishing they were somewhere else.
2a. Location, location, location
The order in which you handle the activities and location are down to you and will change depending on you and your friends' situations.
If you're on a tight budget and all live in the same area then you may wish to pick the prime stag weekend location that's nearest to you and opt for the activities that are on offer there.
Alternatively your mates may be spread far and wide and the sensible option would be to pick the most central location for you all.
You may wish to tackle a particular stag weekend activity that is only available at a single resort or location - in which case your choice is effectively made for you.
You might want to get away from it all - immerse yourself in the full-on stag experience by getting some real distance between your stag party and home. In which case you could look for a fantastic stag party experience in another country. It's an increasingly popular option and one that could make your stag weekend especially memorable.
2b. Do stuff
Abraham Lincoln once said: "You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time." If he'd ever tried to arrange his own stag night he would have added ".but if you cock up the activities then you're on your own."
When considering activities take some time to consider the people who'll be taking part in them. You wouldn't, for example, book a game of dodgeball paintball when everyone in your party was a bit on the lardy side. For one thing the running about will kill them; for another they'll be dead easy to hit - particularly when they're laid on the ground gasping their last breath.
Similarly you're best to check on the driving capabilities of your stag party before you book a rally driving session, and make sure they're not prone to motion sickness before you launch them into a free fall flight simulator.
Make the activity appropriate to the likes, abilities and fitness levels of those taking part.
3. The point of it all: the stag night.
With all the activities now on offer it can be increasingly easy to forget that the point of all of this is to do what the ancient Spartans did all those centuries ago: celebrate the end of a friend's bachelor days.
That means your planning shouldn't stop when the paintballing does. Where are you going to eat, drink, sleep? Leave it to chance and you risk not being able to get into the pubs and clubs of your choice, tolerating a dodgy meal in a dodgy restaurant and finding the only available accommodation is as far away from the city centre as a Ryanair airport.
Some of the better stag party organisers offer things like restaurants, limo hire and nightlife passes to ensure that the stag night goes as well as the stag day did. If you think you can get by without an organiser though, make sure that you've planned the evening as much as you can. .
Check on dress codes of the venues you want to visit.
Do some research on the best restaurants around and book ahead if you can.
Enquire ahead of the stag night about discount entry or vip admissions to your chosen clubs - the earlier the better.
Have a plan to get there and back safely. Book a taxi in advance or splash out and opt for a limo!
Book your accommodation in advance. Don't find yourself wandering the streets at 4.00am looking for somewhere to crash.
4. You're not alone.
If all of this sounds more than a little daunting then don't worry. As stag nights have expanded to become stag weekends so a whole industry has arisen with the sole aim of taking your wishes and sorting the logistics for you.
One of the leading stag and hen party organisers helped 30,000 people last year enjoy their hen and stag nights - so clearly if you do find yourself needing a bit of a hand, or if you simply don't have the time to put it all together, then you're definitely not alone.
Choosing a stag weekend organiser can be tricky - there's so many of them and not all are reputable. The most trustworthy ones should have the following: .
A professional, appealing website.
The opportunity to talk to a human being, not a machine.
A range of positive testimonials. . A host of locations and activities from which to choose.
A freephone number - not only does it cost you nothing to call them, it also assures you that the company you're with is a serious player.
One final thing: this isn't just another night out. This is serious. The ancient Spartans didn't invent stag nights just so you and your mates could share a pack of dry roasted down the local. Make your stag weekend a weekend to remember.
Become a legend of all conquering partydom.
Make it the biggest party of your life!
After all, you owe it to Sparta.