So after a recent conversation with a friend of mine, I realised that there’s a massive section my blog is missing – cheap things to do in London. Living on a student budget has made me weary of the dreaded price tag on things, but this has also meant that looking for a more affordable alternative has become second nature to me as of late. So allow me to share what I know with you -if anything, this will help you save some pennies whilst still having a good time in the Big Smoke.
Before I begin with individual reviews, there are 5 important rules to saving on entertainment in London –
1. Get Twitter
If you want to be in the know of free give-aways and special deals, the quickest and most direct way of keeping on top of things is following your favourite places/brands on Twitter. In most cases, a lot of promotions become available at the last minute (e.g. free cinema screenings) so Twitter is the quickest way of finding out what’s on.
2. Don’t be afraid to try something new
The West End isn’t the only place for Theatre, nor are the best cinemas necessarily the ones part of a big chain. You’d be surprised how many wonderful things the rest of London has to offer – there is life outside of Zone 1, and given the location, it comes at a very friendly price. From Brixton to Kilburn, London is full of quaint flower markets and small cafes, retro cinemas and hideaway pubs with fantastic live performers – you just need to branch out a bit. And for goodness’ sake, give new bands a try – the fact that you’ve never heard of them before is not enough reason to not even bother with their music. Go to a random gig at your local pub; you might even enjoy yourself.
3. Patience is a virtue
Although I’m a bit of a hypocrite when I say this, but patiently sifting through money saving websites and forums will get you the biggest savings. Unfortunately I don’t have the perseverance to put up with lengthy message threads in order to get free theatre tickets – but please don’t let this dissuade you, as you’ll be surprised with what you’ll find.
4. Read more
Seriously though, if you put more in, you’ll get more out of life. From the bog standard culture reviews in national newspapers, to TimeOut (which is now FREE, y’all) and online bloggers like myself (or dare I say, more specialised ones) – all of the above are all portals BURSTING with information for you to take advantage of. Don’t know where to start? Well aren’t you lucky you’re living in the 21st century? One word: Google.
5. Timing is everything
If this is something you haven’t already picked up on, then you officially have the global awareness of an underground mole. Compiling an A-Z to successful saving would be too time consuming (especially when no one is awarding me for my efforts) so I will just start you off with the obvious.
1. Theatre tickets get cheaper before they get more expensive. There is a couple of weeks/month gap when a show first comes to the big stage – the preview season. Snap up tickets then, before they shoot up to an extortionate price (£50/£60 equivalent when it comes to West End shows).
2. Cinema tickets are cheapest during the middle of the day, typically on Monday or Tuesday, or otherwise on all weekdays. Various cinemas have their own special deals as well (e.g. the Coronet in Notting Hill on Mondays and Tuesdays).
3. If you want to have dinner in Covent Garden/Leicester Square etc., have it early. All restaurants in the area (or most, at least) will have set pre-theatre menus, normally 5-7.3opm but timing varies.
Right, that’s enough to get you thinking. Happy saving!