The Old West or Wild West has been a popular theme in entertainment for decades, and even in fashion: people certainly seek out care guides for Western boots. Still, the main area that keeps interested in the time period of North America is film and television. At the end of 2022, the six-part mini-series The English dazzled critics and audiences alike, getting a somewhat rarely coherent Rotten Tomatoes score of 82 per cent from critics and 80 per cent from viewers.

The Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer-led show doesn’t look set to get a second series in 2023 or beyond, but it has certainly helped to inspire a renewed increase in intrigue in the Old West. Luckily, you don’t need to travel all of the way to the other side of the US to get a Western experience, with options ranging from themed entertainment to world-class movies, and even in-person experiences.

Gaming in the old saloon

Western Style Saloon Bar

Easily one of the most instantly-identifiable and iconic images of the Old West is the saloon. A place where weary travellers would come to relax, play cards, and sometimes brawl, the saloon and its swinging doors will always be a key part of a Wild West experience. Many of these are still run in the US, and you can get yourself into the theme with a pair of unique cowboy boots, but it’s not essential to leave the house to go to the saloon.

For a live, real-time experience of the saloon with other people, alongside some card gaming, Dead or Alive: Saloon at the live casino could be the answer. You’ll be beamed to a saloon with a human croupier donning the attire of the Wild West days – possibly some of those cowboy boots we mentioned earlier. The card game itself has you bet on specific cards, suites, values, or all cards, as well as play the Bounty Hunt for multipliers when bonus cards come out.

Immersive Old West experience

If you’re one who’s happy to venture out in search of adventure, then you need not go further than London. You could visit the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel’s lounge first, and then make your way to the Aldgate tube station. From there, you’re just a short walk from to immersive theatre and mixology experience, Moonshine Saloon.

You need to book ahead to go to this Wild West experience, but once you’re through those swinging doors, you’ll be fully set for an evening of action. Upon arrival, the local tailor fits you with authentic attire so that you blend in, and then you’ll take a seat to get served and see the action unfold within the underground venue. You’ll get to choose a unique character and join the old bootlegger gang, playing the part for an hour and 45 minutes.

Get into a cowboy shootout

It’s too early to say, but based on the gains made over the last couple of years, 2023 looks to be the year that virtual reality tech truly makes it into the mainstream. Powering the effort will be PlayStation and its PSVR2 set, which is said to boast several fully-fledged games at launch, as well as Meta’s desire to get everyone in a Meta Quest (formerly Oculus Quest) headset to delve into the Metaverse.

For now, there’s plenty for Wild West fans to dig into – especially if you enjoy the suspense and thrills of the draw. One of the biggest VR experiences going is Rec Room, and in August 2022, they added a Western-themed shootout. Better still, it’s not just one-vs-one, with the Sarsaparilla Springs-set game catering to a three-vs-three shootout experience. If Rec Room’s not for you, though, you could try to £3.99 cowboy shooting challenge experience, Gunslinger, on the Meta headsets. With 24 levels, you’ll be an ace with the six-shooter by the end!

Sit back and watch the stories of the Old West unfold

The classic way to scratch that Wild West itch is, of course, to sit back and put on a classic flick. As mentioned, The English is a great show to watch for its take on the theme. Still, if you want a more historically accurate viewing experience, your best options would be Little Big Man (1970), Young Guns (1988) or Ride with the Devil (1999).

If you’re after more modern Western movies that do less for historical accuracy and more for entertainment value, you still have plenty of picks. Meek’s Cutoff (2010), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), The Homesman (2014), Bone Tomahawk (2018), and Django Unchained (2012) are all well worth adding to the list for the calibre of acting showcased, let alone the excitement from the Western themes.

Even on the eastern side of the pond, you can immerse yourself in the Old West in many ways from home or at some specialist venues in the UK.