90s Reloaded Butlin’s Big Weekender – Review
By Richard Jones, December 2023
You can tell you’ve nailed a fancy dress costume when people queue up to have their picture taken with you.
It was Saturday evening at Butlin’s Skegness Resort and the four of us were about to party the night away dressed as four different Freddie Mercurys.
And as soon as we entered the Skyline Pavilion, dozens of heads turned and camera phones emerged to take photos. For a split second, we felt like real-life rock stars.
Butlin’s legendary seaside resorts have been a go-to destination for British families for the best part of 90 years, and they are now the place to be for fun-seeking adults.
“For adults who want it all”
There are dozens of Big Weekenders per year, ranging from decade breaks like Ultimate 80s and 90s Reloaded, which the four of us were attending, and the multi-era Replay weekends. Outside of the school holidays, Butlin’s is free of kids, so their facilities are being put to good use entertaining the grown-ups.
Big Weekenders are for adults who Want It All (pardon the first but not the last of the Queen puns), whether that means meeting up with their friends, letting their hair down, or enjoying world-class live entertainment.
Throw in pool parties and silent discos, all included in the price (less from £79 per person for three nights), and you’ll be pushed to find a more affordable and convenient adult break on the market. It’s cheaper than most festivals, and there isn’t a tent or taxi in sight.
“Range of accommodation”
Jonathan, Martin, Leigh and I arrived in Skegness for our pre-Christmas get together on a cold Friday night in early December, and the beer and Prosecco was already flowing, with stag, hen and birthday groups braving the winter chill to enjoy the happy holiday vibe.
Our base was a comfortable Seaside Apartment, close to the beach, with a good-sized kitchen and living area.
There is a large range of accommodation options to choose from around the Skeggy site and, in 2024, Butlin’s are opening 128 brand-new premium lodges in the Lincolnshire resort which will be available for both family breaks and adult-only Big Weekenders.
After unpacking, we thought it wise to line our stomachs. Our booking included Premium Dining, meaning we could get our fill during breakfast and evening meal times at The Deck and The Yacht Club. There was plenty of choice, with live cooking and grill stations serving fresh stir fries, roasts, pies and burgers in the evenings, and sausages, eggs, hash browns and pastries in the mornings.
After our tea, we donned our festive Hawaiian shirts and made a beeline for the Skyline Pavilion, where Betty Boo was Doin’ the Do on the Centre Stage.
Then it was onto our favourite bar, Reds, where the Symphonic Ibiza orchestra were turning the dance floor into a bouncing sea of Santa hats and tinsel.
“Partying the night away”
During the night, we drifted between venues, partying the night away at Club de Fromage in the Centre Stage club and watching tribute act Bein Adams from the Sky Bar.
The next morning, we predictably felt worse for wear. But the Show Must Go On, and we were booked in for a two-hour bottomless brunch in The Diner at 11.30am.
Priced at just £32.50pp, it’s another bargain, as our friendly server Arthur plied us with unlimited beer, cider, Prosecco and strawberry woo woos, as well as juicy, made-to-order burgers, fried chicken and dirty fries.
Leaving The Diner with our alcohol levels topped up, we continued with a few in Hotshots sports bar and Reds, watching Bobby Davro’s stand-up set.
For those wanting to ease off the booze in the afternoon, there is go-karting, archery, target shooting, adventure golf, ten-pin bowling and pool parties at Splash.
Saturday was the big night of our Big Weekender and just getting ready was hilarious. In the weeks leading up to the break, we pooled our ideas and eventually agreed on a fancy dress One Vision – going as four Freddies. Between us, we procured a robe, crown, white vests, a yellow jacket, and even a leather mini-skirt and a vacuum cleaner. We even grew and dyed our moustaches jet black to look like the legendary Queen frontman.
If you are sceptical about dressing up for a Big Weekender, you needn’t be, at least 90 per cent of the revellers are in costume on the middle night.
We saw people dressed up as WWE wrestlers, Ancient Romans, Disney princesses, I’m a Celeb Jungle contestants, and everything in between. Saturday night is also when the biggest acts appear, and we watched Pat Sharp and B*Witched in Studio 36, as well as Jamiroquai tribute act Space Cowboy in Reds and DJ Luck n MC Neat on the Centre Stage.
Following Saturday’s all-day drinking, Sunday was understandably much more sedate, with a few guests who’d not been able to get out of Monday’s shift at work bailing when the booze had wore off.
“Relieve your youth”
For those who stuck around, there was Snap! and Dick and Dom on Centre Stage and Chesney Hawkes proving he is still the One And Only in Reds.
Now firmly in my mid-40s, my wife keeps reminding me that I’m “not a kid anymore”. And waking up after three days in Skeggy with one helluva hangover, she probably has a point.
But to steal a question from one of Queen’s album tracks, Was It All Worth It? You bet.
During Butlin’s Big Weekenders, you can do as little or as much as you want. If you Want To Break Free from the norm, relive your youth, and put a smile on your face, These Are The Days you’ll remember when you do get old.
The four of us can’t wait to embrace the Big Weekender spirit again. It’s A Kind Of Magic.
Butlin’s offers a three-night 90s Reloaded Big Weekenders in Skegness, exclusively for adults, in February, June, September or November 2024, from just £118pp. Price is based on a one-bedroom Silver Room that sleeps two and includes access to live music venues featuring headline acts including Five, 911, Vengaboys, Boyzlife, East 17, Heather Small and Artful Dodger, plus activities like pool parties and silent discos. Dining packages start from £12.65 per adult, per day. To find out more about Butlin’s Big Weekenders in Skegness, Minehead and Bognor Regis, go to butlins.com or bigweekends.com