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When I talk to outsiders about Milton Keynes, I’m often met with comments about the lack of nightlife and the flat cultural scene. This perception is of course not true. Over the years, Milton Keynes has lots of some of its central clubs and bars, but as the demographic of the city evolves, it paves the way for new venues to bring something new.
MK11 is a recognisable name for many in Milton Keynes. Owned by two local brothers, Marc and Simon, MK11 is one of the area’s pure and true independents. Not only does it champion local music and great food, but they are fiercely passionate about making sure that MK does not become a carbon copy of other cities in the UK, but somewhere that is truly unique thanks to its independent scene.
In this blog post, find out more about MK11’s story and their newest night out, Friday Night Live.
MK11 is a live music venue and sports bar in Kiln Farm. The venue is as historic as Milton Keynes itself, cementing MK11’s status as one of the true local gems. Formerly cowsheds and barns, the site was redeveloped by Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC) back in the early 1970s when MK was under construction. It later became a purpose-built sport and social club and squash courts for employees of MKDC.
Fast-forward to 2008, Giles, who runs The White Hart in Sherington decided to take on Kiln Farm Club as a side-venture. He refurbished the space and opened the venue as a pub. Marc and Simon, the current owners, came on board working in the bar and kitchen and after some years, they became business partners and MK11 was left in their hands as Giles went on to focus on his pub which is still going strong today.
Marc and Simon re-connected with local sound and lighting engineers Dave Wilkie and Pete Knight, who both previously worked at The Pitz on Woughton Campus. Jon Ellams, a local musician and promoter, was brought in to help put on music shows. Together, they formulated a plan to launch MK11 as a live music venue and it began to take shape as the space we know and love today.
A true independent
MK11 has been absolutely key in contributing to and enhancing the cultural scene in MK. They provide a platform for local artists to play to as many people as possible, and the team continues to support grassroots music. In the process, MK11 remains unashamedly unique and thoroughly independent in both its ownership and approach. If you can jam along to it, you’ll find it at MK11. From George Michael tribute nights to Bad Manners, I don’t think you’ll find a more diverse space in terms of music – It’s quite fantastic really, and something I really respect.
As well as live music events, MK11 also hosts many of the big sports fixtures. Dan spent most of June watching the Euros there!
Introducing Friday Night Live at MK11
I truly am very excited to introduce you to MK11’s Friday Night Live. This is a weekly event hosted on – you guessed it – Fridays, which is great for anyone looking for a night out.
Each week, there is a different theme and there really is something to suit everyone. Friday Night Live at MK11 is on a rotating schedule: Bandeoke, Local Band Showcase, Request Night Live and Acoustic Nights. Entry is totally free, there’s 2 for £10 on cocktails, they serve fishbowls and food is available until 10pm.
At Bandeoke, you can sing along to karaoke classics performed by a live band; At Local Band Showcase, artists from Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas perform and Acoustic Nights offer something a bit more chilled and relaxed.
We headed to MK11 for the Request Night Live, which is like a live jukebox. You simply write your music requests on a slip of paper, pass it to the band and they play the song if they can! It was great fun, and the band put their own spin on every song rather than playing it as a carbon copy. The atmosphere at Friday Night Live remains pretty relaxed all things considered so if you aren’t up for booming music and strobe lights, this is definitely the night out for you.
Food and drinks
If you head to MK11 for Friday Night Live, make sure you go hungry. The kitchen is open until 10pm serving their signature wings and smash burgers and heck, they are excellent. We had the Cluck Norris and Obee burgers which were both awesome. Great textures, stacked patties and incredibly tasty. The Chilli Cheese Loaded Fries are brilliant too and of course, the wings, which MK11 are quite famous for. In fact, they were smashing out good wings before lots of other places cropped up in MK and they remain some of the best. There’s some great vegan and vegetarian options on the menu too.
Dan professes that MK11 has one of the best (and most reasonably priced) range of beers in Milton Keynes. I am not a beer drinker, but I will take his word for it. They have lagers, IPAs, wheat beers on tap as well as bottles and cans. They also have an impressive gin selection as well as wines and spirits for those who don’t drink beer.
For Friday Night Live, there’s a 2 for £10 on cocktails offer as well as fishbowls if you’re feeling nostalgic.
If you’re looking for a decent night out with friends or perhaps you’re looking for somewhere for a work night out in the lead up to Christmas, I definitely recommend heading to MK11 and checking out Friday Night Live. In addition to this new offering, there are still loads of great music acts lined up. You can buy tickets and see a full schedule on their website.
MK11 Live Music Venue & Sports Bar is located in Kiln Farm. Friday Night Live is on every Friday night. To see a full list of what’s on at MK11 and the Friday Night Live schedule, head to www.mk11kilnfarm.com. MK11’s current opening times are Tuesdays 4:30pm – 12am, Wednesdays 4:30pm – 11pm, Fridays 4:30pm – late. Saturday 12pm – late. Sunday 12pm – 6pm.
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