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Top 21 things to do on your 21st birthday

Your 21st birthday is a milestone event and you owe it to yourself to well and truly celebrate it. Although the law lets you vote and buy beer from the age of 18, there is a long-standing cultural acceptance that 21 marks the start of "official" adulthood. There's a danger you'll wake the morning after with nothing more than a sore head and a hazy notion of the night before. Follow these top tips though and you'll make your special day distinctive and memorable -- a 21st you'll treasure forever.

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Celebrity celebration

Act like a celebrity for the day. Appoint a friend as your official photographer to record all your birthday doings, then publish the results on social media. Prince William gave an interview and issued a set of official photos on his 21st birthday. Why not do the same?

Theme park

Take a trip to a theme park for a day of rides and thrills. Food, drink and attractions are all laid-on, with plenty to do for all types and ages of people. It's an ideal way to combine a family event with a celebration involving your friends.

Cocktail challenge

Set your friends the task of creating a special cocktail in your honour. At the appointed hour, sample the different creations and let the inventors explain exactly how each drink is supposed to symbolise you. Give the winning recipe to your favourite bar, so they know exactly what to mix you next time you drop by.

Sky's the limit

Sky-diving, parascending, hang-gliding, a flying lesson or a hot air balloon ride are all popular choices for a memorable 21st birthday event. Do one of these for the first time and you'll never forget your big day. Get sponsored and raise some cash for your favourite charity to add to your sense of achievement.

Dance off

Hold a dance-off with your friends. You could take a line dancing, disco, ballroom or salsa class together. If you're short of cash, just use a dance mat. Award prizes for creativity, rhythm, individuality and skill. Or head for a public space -- the beach, a bar, the park -- to really let your hair down.

War party

Get together with a group of mates for laser tag or paintball, if you enjoy a bit of rough-and-tumble on your big day. Chase about the woods or an abandoned warehouse, dodging the incoming fire and splatting the opposition.

Sports day

Hold a five-a-side football match, volleyball tournament or other sports challenge if you, your friends and family are sporty types. Award a special trophy that bears your name to the winning team.

Day of dares

Get a large dish, some pencils, some notepads and call up your friends. Ask each friend to write a dare on bit of paper, screw the paper up and drop it into the dish. You and your friends take it in turns to draw a dare from the "dish of destiny," with party drinks as forfeits for any faint-hearts.

Make a splash

Scuba diving, canoeing, kite-boarding or surfing are popular choices for water-loving, outward-bound types. If this sounds like you and your mates, you could book a 21st birthday trip to a water park or a weekend away on the coast to catch some celebratory waves.

Pamper yourself

Visit a spa with your best friends for a day of pampering or beauty treatments. As it's your 21st, you're bound to find some kind soul who'll foot the bill. Whether its a manicure, pedicure, aroma therapy or massage session, you'll enter life as an adult glowing, relaxed and feeling refreshed.

Party on

Hold a traditional 21st birthday house party and invite your friends and family along. Go the whole hog: champagne, streamers, canapés and party entertainers. If you don't fancy celebrating at home, you could hold your bash at a favourite restaurant or sports club, a prestige venue such as a country house, or a fun venue such as a riverboat or swimming pool.

High roller

Cruise about town with your mates in a luxury stretch limo, sipping champagne and cocktails, before rounding off the evening at a club or casino. You only get to be 21 once, so make the most of your moment of luxury.

Fast lane

Visit a go-kart track for a race with your friends and family, or take a taster drive in a racing car, if you're a bit of a speed freak. You'll remember that birthday thrill for years to come.

Personal shopper

Hire a personal shopper to help you with a 21st birthday makeover. Top stores offer you the chance to relax in your own personal shopping suite, sipping your favourite drink, whilst you peruse the latest fashions with your very own style consultant.

Dinner party

Say goodbye to jelly and ice-cream and mark your arrival in the adult world with a stylish dinner party, for a select group of friends. It's the perfect excuse for posh invitations, smart suits and pretty cocktail frocks. You could even hire outside caterers, or hold your dinner at a flash restaurant.

Birthday gig

Go to a gig or festival and see the musicians you love performing live. As it's your 21st, treat your mates to a place in the mosh pit with you. Ever after, when you hear a track by that artist or that band, you'll remember your special day.

Camp out

Head off into the wilderness with your buddies for a birthday under canvass. Tell ghost stories or sing songs around the campfire, dance under the moon and sleep out beneath the stars, waking to watch the dawn come up. Alternatively, if it's summer in the UK, surviving the mud and rain will make you bond for ever.


Go bowling for a relaxed, informal get-together with friends. It's well-adapted to large groups and you don't need to be particularly sporty to take part and have a good time.

Body art

Get that tattoo or piercing you've been dreaming of, as a permanent reminder of your 21st birthday. Take a friend or two along to witness your rite of passage and be very sure about what you want, as your body art's going to stick with you.

Go clubbing

Party the night away at a club you've always wanted to visit. Do your homework and check events listings so you know you'll get the DJ and experience that will suit you and your friends.


Light up the sky with birthday fireworks. A good display will let the whole neighbourhood know you're celebrating. Consider hiring a professional firm to handle setting up and setting off the fireworks for you, so the whole thing goes with a bang.

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About the Author

British writer Martin Malcolm specializes in children's nonfiction. His books include "A Giant in Ancient Egypt" and "Poetry By Numbers." His schoolkids' campaign for the Red Cross won the 2008 Charity Award. A qualified teacher, he has written for the BBC and MTV. He holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of London.

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