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Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh

5 fantastic group activities to spice up your weekends in Edinburgh…

Two students holding a bowling ball in front of a bowling alley
Reading Time: 6 minutes

…by Grace / from Malaysia / studying Law (LLB)

Whether you’re diving into your first year or cruising through as a seasoned university student, we all face that familiar question every week: What are we doing this weekend? Well, fear not, because as a third-year student, I’ve become somewhat of an expert in making weekend plans. Since my first year, my friends and I have been all about celebrating birthdays, but after the third dorm-room card and board game session, we knew it was time to level up and get creative. So, here are my top five picks for activities that guarantee unforgettable moments with both new and old friends!

Honourable Mention: Bowling

To kick things off, let’s talk about my honourable mention that didn’t quite make it into the top 5: Bowling. If you’re seeking an easy, low-key activity to enjoy with friends, then bowling is definitely worth a shot. Edinburgh boasts numerous bowling spots (our personal favourite being Tenpin Bowling at Fountain Park), where all you need to do is book, pay, slap on those funky tap-dancing shoes, and try your hand at scoring a strike.

Now, I’ll be honest, bowling can sometimes feel a bit repetitive. However, the joy of spending time with good friends and soaking up the positive vibes more than makes up for it. At Tenpin, there’s an added bonus—an arcade connected to the bowling alley. I highly recommend trying out a few games, especially the punching machine, where everyone competes for the title of the strongest person in the group and the racing simulator that makes you feel like you’re in a real F1 car seat.

Overall, bowling is a fun option for hanging out with friends or celebrating birthdays. However, it can be a bit pricey at times and may not offer the same level of excitement as some of the other activities on my list. But hey, sometimes a casual game of bowling is just what you need to unwind and enjoy some quality time with your pals!

1. Bouldering:

A student is bouldering on a climbing wall.

I am the first person to admit that I was apprehensive about trying out bouldering. 1. I have zero upper body strength, and 2. I’m a little scared of heights (actually a lot). But bouldering is really awesome as a way to bond with friends and literally conquer new heights together. Trying out a new workout is always a little intimidating but Edinburgh boasts a vibrant bouldering community who are all super friendly. It’s also a really accessible activity! If you’re a member of pleasance gym go check out their bouldering facilities, it’s easy to book through the university’s website and has a great mix of beginner-friendly and challenging routes. It’s another example of the great facilities open to students at our university. Or you could always check out one of the many bouldering gyms scattered across the city. A personal favourite for my friends and me is Alien Bloc. It is super easy to get to by bus (this is your friendly reminder to apply for your young Scots card if eligible!!) and always welcoming.

Bouldering isn’t just a physical workout; it’s also a mental challenge. Planning your route up the wall with friends requires strategy and coordination, all while giving your muscles a good stretch after a week of desk-bound studying. Despite my initial fear, I’m now hooked. I’ve even sought out bouldering gyms in other countries when I travel—it’s become a bit of an addiction!

2. Karaoke:

There are times when you just need to let it all out, but let’s be real, screaming in public isn’t exactly socially acceptable. However, when it comes to karaoke, the louder, the better, in my opinion! Whether you opt to host your own karaoke night or hit up one of Edinburgh’s karaoke rooms (we are partial to SuperCube on George St.), it’s guaranteed to be a night filled with laughter, music, and probably a few off-key covers of your favourite songs.

If you’re not keen on shelling out for a karaoke room, why not host a karaoke night at home? All you need is a device large enough for everyone to see (a laptop or tablet works great), queue up some karaoke videos on YouTube, and make sure everyone brings snacks and drinks! Feeling a bit competitive? Try adding a mini, low-pressure talent show into the mix. Encourage everyone to perform solos, then vote on the best performance of the night. And don’t forget to reward the winner with a small prize (chocolates or candy are always a hit)! As a fellow winner, I can attest that hanging out with friends at home is the best—it’s cosy, affordable, and super easy to put together!

3. Soccer at Peffermill Playing Fields:

The University of Edinburgh is brimming with resources, and one gem among them is Peffermill Playing Fields—a sporting ground that students can book at an incredibly low price. When my friend dropped a not-so-subtle hint that they wanted to celebrate their birthday with a soccer game, we jumped at the chance. Booking a small pitch at Peffermill, we grabbed a soccer ball and stocked up on ice-cold juices and sodas. Organizing a friendly match with friends was a breeze, and it provided the perfect opportunity to showcase our skills, enjoy the great outdoors, and maybe even score a few goals. Well, for most of us, anyway. In my case, it was more about highlighting my lack of coordination and fitness levels! But despite my lack of soccer skills, running around carefree with my friends made for a wonderfully low-stress birthday bash, thanks to the University’s easy booking system. It was also a nice chance to take my mind off of my studies and upcoming exams at the time!

Since we hosted this birthday bash in fall/winter, the chilly weather was a minor concern. But with a bit of bundling up and a strict warm-up routine, we were soon warmed up and filled with happy endorphins as we dashed across the field. And to top it all off, nothing beats treating yourself to steaming hot cocoa after the game from the BEST cocoa stand in Edinburgh—the charming little cart on the Meadows!

4. Picnic on the Meadows:

When you find yourself in Edinburgh, it’s practically inevitable that you’ll spend plenty of time at the Meadows. And let me tell you, one of my absolute favourite things to do there is to organise potluck picnics! Picture this: everyone agrees to bring a little something to share—whether it’s food or drinks—and then we all gather together, soaking in the fresh air and unwinding from our studies. Surrounded by such lush, open green space, it’s hard not to feel a sense of peace and relaxation. And if you’re a dog lover like me, it’s even better! The scent of our picnic spread always seems to attract adorable pups, making for some adorable photo ops with our new fluffy friends.

If you need picnic essentials like cutlery, plates, or cups, your nearest Poundland or cheap party shop has got you covered. Here’s a little hack of mine: those plastic party table covers? They double perfectly as something to sit on! After our picnic, just give them a quick dust-off, fold them into a small square, and pack them away for your next hangout on the Meadows.

Now, don’t stress about what to bring. If cooking is your love language, there are plenty of options to consider. Freshly prepared sandwiches—like BLTs or tuna-sweetcorn—always hit the spot. A pasta salad, a selection of charcuterie, cut-up fruits and other finger foods are easy to clean up and won’t spoil too quickly. And if you’re short on time, grabbing a takeaway pizza is a simple yet delicious contribution. Just swing by your favourite pizza joint (mine’s Civerinos), and you’re all set!

Pro tip: Bring along a frisbee or a pack of cards for when you’re on the verge of entering your food coma—it’s the perfect way to keep the fun going!

5. All You Can Eat Hot Pot:

When it comes to dining out with friends, finding a balance between satisfying your hunger and sticking to a budget can be a bit of a challenge. But fear not, because I’ve got the perfect solution for you: all-you-can-eat hot pot!

Food on a table with a hot potIf you’re not familiar, hot pot is a Chinese meal where you choose a soup base and then cook your choice of ingredients right in the hot broth. And let me tell you, Edinburgh is home to a bunch of fantastic all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurants. Personally, my friends and I are huge fans of ‘Happy Hot Pot’ on Newington. For just £20, you can feast on an array of fresh ingredients and customize your meal to your heart’s content. Now, here’s where the fun begins. We’ve celebrated a few birthdays at ‘Happy Hot Pot’, and every single time, we manage to stack our boxes of meat so high that they’re taller than I am! But if meat isn’t your thing, don’t worry—there are a ton of different fresh vegetables to choose from, like bok choy, spinach, and mushrooms. Pair that with some thick, slurpy udon noodles and silky, soft tofu, and you’ve got yourself the perfect meal. What’s great about hot pot is that it’s incredibly customizable. You can even choose a few different soup bases so that you and your friends can try a variety of flavours all in the same meal. Personally, I love getting a tomato soup base because it’s a little sweet, sour, and salty—absolutely delicious when my noodles soak up all that flavour!

Hot pot is definitely a winter-time favourite for us—it’s the perfect way to warm up from the inside out. And the best part? It requires very little planning other than making a reservation, and it can accommodate pretty large groups. Plus, some hot pot restaurants even offer karaoke experiences simultaneously, where you can rent out a large room for your group and sing your heart out while enjoying great food. It’s the ultimate dining and entertainment experience rolled into one!

So there you have it, folks! Five fantastic group activities guaranteed to add some excitement to your weekends in Edinburgh. Whether you’re scaling walls, singing your heart out, or indulging in a hot pot feast, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So gather your friends, make some memories, and let the good times roll!

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