This site is all about the various things that you can get up to in London for fun and entertainment, so it’s only right that there had to be a page in bingo sooner or later. Bingo is one of the oldest pastimes that we enjoy in the United Kingdom, with games played up and down the country. From church halls to specialised locations, bingo is something that people of all ages can enjoy. It used to be the case that it was mainly aimed at older people, but nowadays there are all sorts of ways of playing bingo that are specifically designed to engage a younger demographic.
As the capital of the country, London boasts a wealth of different bingo options for those that wish to play it. Unsurprisingly, there are a huge amount of chain bingo halls from the likes of Gala and Mecca, but there are many other types of bingo that you can play depending on what it is that you are after. That is great news for the bingo enthusiast that wants to experience many different ways of playing it, as well as those that are far more traditional in their bingo outlook. Whatever it is that you’re hoping for from a bingo game, there’s a good chance that London has got it.
The ‘Bog Standard’ Bingo
For those of you that prefer your bingo playing options to be as traditional as possible, there are a number of chains that dominate the London scene. That doesn’t mean that they’re boring, just that you will get a traditional style of playing much more readily than you’ll get new-fangled and weird bingo games. This is where the older bingo players tend to head, knowing exactly what they want and avoiding anywhere that might try to spring a surprise on them. Whilst the companies behind them might try occasional nights to bring in younger audiences, they mainly cater to those who know what they want.
Here is a look at the main chains that have more than a few bingo halls around London, along with what you can expect to enjoy from each of them if you were to head there for a night out:
Buzz Bingo (Formerly Gala Bingo)
Gala Bingo is, of course, still one of the biggest bingo chains in the UK, however, all of their physical bingo halls have now been rebranded to Buzz Bingo with Gala Bingo being solely online. With plenty of Buzz Bingo halls dotted throughout London, you can expect more of the same, with traditional bingo given a slightly youthful twist in order to try to appeal to any and all parties. If you head along at the right time then you’ll be able to enjoy some free bingo, which is ideal if this is an activity that is new to you. Because this is a chain, there is often a link to the other Buzz Bingos with the games, allowing for an impressive jackpot to be won if your numbers land.
Because all of the Buzz Bingo halls in London are located in former Mecca or Gala Bingo sites, the overall experience will largely be the same as one from these popular bingo brands. This might not sound like a bad thing to some of you, given how well those two companies have got their bingo experiences dialled in, but for those of you hoping for something a little bit different, it is unlikely that you’re going to experience it with Buzz Bingo. The good news is that there is still plenty of fun bingo to be played here if traditional works for you. Each day offers something different for the bingo crowd, but the reality is that you’re still going to get to play the traditional form of bingo exactly as your nan might expect it to be played. What tends to be different is the prize, as well as the cost of the game, so you can pick and choose one that you think will be most suitable to how you want to play.
If there is a chain that can take the fight to Buzz Bingo in terms of popularity, then it is probably Mecca Bingo. Again, you’ll be offered the traditional forms of bingo that everyone is used to, with decent prizes on offer, but there will also be a number of different events that take place on a regular basis to try to entice people in who might not otherwise consider playing bingo. There are Mecca’s Big Money Weekends, for example, in which there are great value games played alongside the chance to win large prizes. Half price Monday evenings also aren’t unheard of.
Alongside the bingo, Mecca Bingo halls usually also allow you to play some slots and to get some food and drink. Given the company’s extensive internet presence, there is, of course, an app that you can download to link your account to your in-person play, which is one of many considerations made for the younger people who want to enjoy their bingo. Generally speaking, though, this is a company that knows which way its bread is buttered and organisers everything accordingly. That doesn’t mean you won’t be welcome if you’re a new player, of course.
Non-Traditional Bingo Options
Traditional bingo is great fun. If it wasn’t, there is no way that it would’ve lasted as long as it has as one of Britain’s favourite pastimes. For some people, though, it will never escape from the idea of being aimed at old ladies with purple rinse in their hair. For that reason, a new generation of bingo sprang up around the country, promising something entirely different to what you’ve been used to before. As the nation’s capital, London has a heap of these for you to choose from. In fact, there are so many that we’ll almost certainly miss some off from our list here.
Hopefully the following will give you a taste of the sort of bingo game that you can expect to play, depending on where you go and what it is that they offer. This list is far from exhaustive, but will give you some notion of the kinds of things that are happening in the new generation of bingo.
Seen as one of the originals in the new vogue of modern bingo aimed at younger people, Bongo’s Bingo mixes traditional bingo with raves, dance-offs and audience participation. This is about as mad as its possible for bingo to get, offering people the chance to win prizes that range from mobility scooters to pink unicorns via Henry Hoovers and karaoke machines. There really is nothing else like it, so don’t be expecting some polite, gentile game in which you’ll be given plenty of time to double-check your bingo card. This is a party and the bingo is somewhat incidental.
This is seen as a look into the future of bingo, being an adrenaline-fulled bingo experience that is as much about the cocktails and the shots as it is about the bingo calls. Video and motion graphics are used from the floor to the ceiling to announce the games and call the numbers, with each game promising a new chance to win big. The more popular this has become, the more experimental they’ve become over the games that are played. At the time of writing, you can choose from the Future of Bingo or the 80s Power Trip, with the latter being all about the retro nature of things.
If you think of bingo, you’d be forgiven for thinking of people that need a new hip. What you probably wouldn’t think about is hip hop, but that is exactly what the creators of Blingo decided to do. New York local Grandma Flash and her 87-year-old lover & DJ, Harry Spelvin host the event, which mixes bingo with beats and bling for a brilliantly mad night. A non-stop party driven along by the excellent tunes, Blingo is a chaotic show that is as much about the comedy as it is about the balls being drawn. Obviously there are some wild prizes up for grabs too.
No, this isn’t a bingo night in which the cast of Cats sing out the numbers. In fact, there are no numbers to speak of. Instead, you’ll have a bingo card with songs written on it, so you’ll have to mark them off every time one of them is played by the DJ. The more songs you’re able to tick off on your bingo card, the higher the chance of being able to win a prize. This is an interactive club night, pushing the boundaries of what you might expect from a ‘normal’ night out on the town. There are even themed nights based on the likes of decades or A Night At The Movies.
Selling itself as ‘not your granny’s bingo’, Dabbers Bingo lays its stall out nice and early. You can expect the likes of lip-sync battles, brilliant prizes and fun hosts who engage everyone thanks to the tunes being played and the dance-offs being encouraged. There are all sorts of different themed-nights at Dabbers Bingo, but the theme remains the same for all of them: fun and games whilst trying to mark off the numbers as they’re called. If you’re interested in doing an alternative bingo night but aren’t quite sure where to start, this would be a good jumping-off point.
If you think that ‘Bogan’ is an Australian word then you’d be right, with Bogan Bingo being an Aussie-themed bingo night in which two lovable Aussie hosts with mullets and air guitars on show. The songs are tunes from the 80s and 90s, making it part rock show and part bingo. It is, to put it mildly, chaotic and you’d do well to follow what’s going on at the best of times. It is immersive in the best possible sense of the word and you’re just as liable to laugh so much you can’t breathe as actually hear any of the numbers being called out, which all adds to the fun.
Lady Gala Bingo
When it comes to the modern version of bingo, there is no better caller than a drag queen. That is what you get at Lady Gala Bingo, which is glitzy and glamorous in a way that only drag queens know how to do. You are just as likely to jump up and start dancing to some of the brilliant tunes as you are to remember to mark off your card and shout ‘bingo!’ It is a raucous night, camp and entertaining in equal measure. It promises something for everyone, so it is well worth getting down to one of the bingo nights hosted by Lady Gala if you get the chance to do so.