Oxford Nightlife

While it’s hardly going to rival London for diversity or liveliness, Oxford’s nightlife is well equipped enough to cater for most tastes. Venues tend to cater for either locals or students (‘town or gown’, as the saying goes) but there’s always a fair amount going on. Check In Oxford (www.inoxfordmag.co.uk) for reliable info on what’s coming up.

Bars in Oxford

Head of the River

As its name suggests, the Head of the River occupies a prime spot on the banks of the Thames. It’s close enough to town to stroll to the main sights, and a mixed clientele usually makes the place feel busy. Can get crowded when rowing competitions are on.

Folly Bridge, St. Aldate’s, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 721 600.
The Eagle and Child

Actually owned by St John’s College, the Eagle and Child is one of Oxford's oldest pubs. It’s famous for being the meeting place of the Inklings literary group, which consisted of, among others, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and the poet and novelist Charles Williams. It has been variously nicknamed the ‘Bird and Baby’ and the ‘Fowl and Foetus’.

49 St Giles Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 302 925.
The Grand Café

A museum-piece of gold leaf and marble pillars, The Grand Café has legitimate claim to being the oldest coffee-house in England (the most incontrovertible evidence coming from no less than Samuel Pepys). For any visitors who like their fix of caffeine in stirring surrounds, it’s unmissable, and location on the High Street makes it easily accessible too. By night, it buzzes with folks keen to sample its cocktails.

84 The High Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 204 463.
Turf Tavern

A 13th century ale-house frequented by dons and tucked into a pleasingly central location, the Turf Tavern is the kind of place that hidden-away afternoons in the pub were designed for. There’s an outdoor area too.

4 Bath Place, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 243 235.

Clubs in Oxford


Raoul’s, in the Jericho area, is a great place for cocktails, with bars on two floors and knowledgeable bartenders mixing the drinks. It claims to stock one of the best ranges of spirits in the country, and has previously been recognised by a national newspaper as one of the 50 Best Bars in the UK.

32 Walton Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 553 732.
The Bridge

A classy nightclub over two floors that offers a relaxed atmosphere, a wide range of music and a programme of popular club nights that attract both students and locals.

6-9 Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 248 777.

Live Music in Oxford

O2 Academy

Formerly the much-loved Zodiac, this illustrious venue is where the bigger names from the rock and indie worlds tend to set up shop. It attracts a very strong calibre of touring acts, and has three separate performance spaces for live events.

190 Cowley Road, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 813 500.
The Jericho Tavern

Renowned as the place where Radiohead and Supergrass were discovered, the Jericho Tavern has in recent years been given a new lease of life as a place for live indie rock music after it fell into obscurity in the late 1990s – expect performances from both local and touring bands. The pub has a good selection of real ales.

56 Walton Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 311 775.
The Spin Jazz Club

Set in The Wheatsheaf opposite , the Spin Jazz Club enjoys a reputation as one of the country’s leading jazz venues (with the awards to show for it). The roster of those who have played here – from John Etheridge and Gilad Etzmon to Tim Garland and Art Themen – ensures it has a faithful following.

129 High Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: 07711 671 647.

Classical Music in Oxford

Sheldonian Theatre

Formed in 1965 with a view to laying on live classical music of a world-class standard, The City of Oxford Orchestra performs regularly in the city year round (unless on tour) and makes use of a number of the city’s most attractive historical buildings, in particular Sir Christopher Wren's Sheldonian Theatre.

Broad Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 277 299.

Theatre in Oxford

New Theatre Oxford

Formerly the Oxford Apollo, the New Theatre stages a broad variety of different productions throughout the year, from stand-up comedy and West End musicals to opera and ballet. There’s a 1,800-seat capacity, and the venue caters well for people with visual or hearing impairments.

George Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: 0844 871 7627.
The Oxford Playhouse

The main theatre in Oxford, and one of the most noted in Britain. It hosts a rich programme of drama, dance, music, music theatre and children's theatre. Its Burton Taylor Studio, just around the corner on Gloucester Street, is an intimate 50-seater studio theatre situated at the top of two flights of stairs, which during term-time plays host to a wide variety of student productions.

Beaumont Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
Telephone: (01865) 305 305.