It's Christmas, the drinks are flowing and that means it's time for the heroes of the oche to step up to take centre stage.

The PDC World Darts Championship gets under way at London's Alexandra Palace on December 13.

Not only does the event give countless stag dos and office parties the chance to dress up, sink a few jars and occasionally pay attention to the sporting action, but it can also have a positive impact on business for UK pubs.

The tournament will be shown live on Sky Sports, right up until the final itself on New Year's Day.

For many it may feel like a new era is beginning with 16-time world champion Phil Taylor not in the draw. He decided to retire after his defeat in last year's final to newcomer Rob Cross. One thing that hasn't changed, though, is that darts can provide great entertainment in the pub.

David Vaira, Sky Sports marketing controller, says: "The atmosphere of watching darts live from the Ally Pally can be replicated in the pub, giving licensees the perfect opportunity to make their businesses the next best spot to watch the competition.

 

Get your game on

"A bit of planning, preparation and creative thinking can really bring the tournament to life in a venue. Encourage customers to don fancy dress or wear a Christmas jumper and hand out prizes to the best dressed — perhaps making the prize something that encourages a repeat visit in January, traditionally a quiet time in the trade."

He adds that foam fingers and placards for customers to scribble messages on will further enhance the feel of actually of being at Ally Pally — as will deals on lager pitchers, hot dogs and burgers.

Promotional assets to help pubs let customers know about the darts both in venue and on social media are available to Sky customers at MySkySports.com.

The PDC isn't the only show in town. Darts purists will know that the BDO tournament is coming up too.

The Lakeside-based event has seen champions such as Taylor, Eric Bristow and Jocky Wilson rise to prominence over the years and it still retains a special place in the public's affections. The event will run from January 5 to 13 and will be broadcast on Eurosport.

Of course, the pull of darts in the pub goes way beyond being a TV sport.

Pubs across the UK rely on darts teams to bring in that important early to mid-week trade. In fact, darts has also followed the same path as beer and tattoos by being "hipsterised" by a new generation of fan.

 

Arrers for all

The bar chain Flight Club, which has multiple venues in London and Manchester, has brought the game to a new audience by creating darts experiences and team-building events alongside its beer and food offer. For example, its Brunch Social features Prosecco on arrival, bottomless pizza, a DJ and a little bit of social darts thrown in for good measure.

Meanwhile, traditional venues, such as The Crown in Seaford, East Sussex, create trade by welcoming their home side and their opponents for fixtures.

Nick Marchant (below), licensee at the free-of-tie, wet-led pub, says darts plays an important role at the venue.

 

 

"We have two teams and we run the Seaford League out of here and on Thursdays we have the Newhaven, Peacehaven and Seaford League," he says.

"There are various games and you get nine home players and the same for away. They drink a fair bit and it is the main thing that keeps me going in the week."

He compares it to Champions League football for the way it can drive trade on those quieter nights, which shows the value a couple of dartboards can bring to a community business that is reliant on drink sales.

 

Landlords and their boards

The link between pubs and darts goes way beyond a few locals chucking the tungsten. Here are a few pros who have had a hand in the trade.

Eric Bristow
One of the game's most colourful characters died in April. He won five world titles and was mentor to Phil Taylor. The pair met at Bristow's Stoke pub, The Crafty Cockney.

Gary Anderson
The back-to-back world champion used to run The Wellington Arms in Rooksbridge, Somerset.

Scott Waites
Scotty "Too Hotty" (below) won the BDO title back in 2016. But when he turned up to play for his pub, The Commercial in Golcar, West Yorkshire, the very next day, he found he hadn't been selected.

 

 

Phil Taylor
The legend of darts learned the game in the pub and he went on to buy his own, The Cricketers in Stoke-on-Trent.