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Best Camden Bars for Bands and Booze
Oct 2nd 2013 | Written by TownFish Team

Best Camden Bars for Bands and Booze

Everyone knows that Camden isn’t lacking in primo boozers. In fact, the choice among Camden bars might be slightly overwhelming; how do you know which ones are the good ones? Which have the best gigs? What about if you actually, for once, want a quiet pint? We’ve selected some favourites for you to put at the top of your list.

Camden Head

As much as it’s nice to have a bit of novelty on a night out, sometimes the best times are had in your local, no-nonsense pub. So if you are after a late-night tipple at the weekend, the Camden Head is one venue that will cater to your needs.

The Camden Head features all you need: the usual drinks selection, a pool table and two seriously comfy couches. Here, things are in full swing at ten minutes to the close and none of the bouncers over-rush their clientele.

The Camden Head is perfect for late-night revelry at the weekend, but a word of warning: this pub can easily reach maximum capacity by 1am, so don’t leave it too late. Oh, and definitely don’t get your hopes up on a seat.

The Lock Tavern

If you like your indie with a healthy pinch of beats then mosey on down to the Lock Tavern any Thursday – Sunday.  An average night could see country, blues and Americana or funk-tinged hip-hop and the Lock has a tendency to showcase obscure and up and coming bands whose wave inevitably breaks on the shore of success months or years later.  The Lock Tavern also has that most enviable of spaces in London – a roof terrace – and it’s a pleasant place to dance the night away under the stars or medicate your hangover with a Sunday roast and hair of the dog.  Entry most nights is free but watch out for the queues at the weekends, as they can be savage.  Information on listings can be found on the website.

Crowd in the Lock Tavern

The Wheelbarrow

Just when you thought Camden didn’t need another live music venue, up pops The Wheelbarrow (used to be Tommy Flynn’s) slap bang in the middle of Camden High Street.

With its established crew, the Wheelbarrow is essentially the reincarnation of the Flowerpot, a free live music venue which was located in nearby Kentish Town. With such a background, The Wheelbarrow is set to be a big-name puller.

If you don’t fancy listening to the bands, there’s also a cosy corner with couches – an ideal spot to relax and take advantage of their free Wi-Fi on an afternoon. Drinks are reasonably priced and the bar staff are easily one of the friendliest bunches around. Could we really ask for more?

The Dublin Castle

Whilst the inside of the Dublin Castle may not be the most salubrious of surroundings, that doesn’t stop this legendary Camden boozer from being a stalwart name on the indie pub scene in London.  None of your fancy beats and cocktails here, The Dublin Castle hosts events with names like ‘A Night of Dirty Rock.’  The tiny stage in the pub’s backroom has been the jumping off point for many a music name – Madness started out here and Cast and Travis (but don’t hold that against them) and Blur have all graced the stage at some point in their careers.  The Castle is a true indie pub that often puts unknowns on the bill to follow in the footsteps of those that have become great – sometimes the choices are inspired and sometimes you’ll need a whisky chaser just to get through the set. Ticket prices vary but you can expect to pay between £5 and £10.  For more information on line-ups see the Dublin Castle Facebook group

Promo picture of the Dublin Castle one of Camden's bars


The Enterprise

This Enterprise has some serious roots as there’s been a pub on the site opposite the Roundhouse for more than 80 years.  The Mighty Boosh first locked eyes over a beer here during a comedy night and the venue has hosted the likes of Kate Nash, Plan B, Willy Nelson and even Queens of the Stone Age.  It’s become the kind of place you can catch small but high profile gigs (if you can get a ticket) so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the line-ups.  Ticket prices vary but tend to start around £3 and you won’t normally pay more than £8.  For full listings check the pub’s website.


The Hawley Arms

Another pub with a fabulous rooftop and an excellent jukebox, the Hawley Arms has been recently refurbished after it was badly damaged in the Camden Market fire in 2008.  Probably best known as one of Amy Winehouse’s favourite haunts, the pub has a fairly low key music policy, made up of monthly music nights hosted by different promoters, as well as acoustic Sunday sessions for up and coming talent.  Entrance is generally free so you can save your money for one of their famous oven baked Pieminster pies instead.  See the pub’s listings page for more information on what’s coming up.

An acoustic set by Louise Hull and Laura Marling at the Hawley Arms