Officer Tips: Cultural Spots

London is famous for its art and music scene. The following guide covers some tips on discounts to access these spaces for lower costs and some options for galleries and museums, cinemas, theatres and live music.

 

London is famous for its art and music scene. The following guide covers some tips on discounts to access these spaces for lower costs and some options for galleries and museums, cinemas, theatres and live music. This by no means covers all of what is available but do explore and we hope you find enriching and enjoyable places to visit!  

Discounted Galleries 

London is brilliant for museums and galleries, most are free entry! General admission is always free at the major sites: Tate, The National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, The British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, V&A among many others. However temporary exhibitions often have an additional cost. Almost always a student discount will exist and your student eligibility for the discount will not be affected by age. However, often there are additional discounts and schemes for young people, older populations and carers, that often mean tickets are cheaper than with a standard student discount. Here are some options for student discounts and age-based concessions:  

An additional discount card for galleries and museums specifically: 

ArtFund (National Art Pass) Student- at £5 for an annual membership, the price is hard to beat. It gives discounts on exhibitions at many galleries and museums across the UK, sometimes even free entry. It’s worth the £5 if you’re likely to visit a lot of different types of galleries and museums, especially not the major London ones. For instance, this pass can provide free entry to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is a brilliant collection of sculpture in a peaceful countryside setting in the North of England. You may find you mainly use this card for exhibitions outside London as there are so many schemes that already provide a great discount.  

When you go to buy tickets online, always check the concession page and assess which discounts you’re entitled to, to find the cheapest price as you may meet the criteria for different discounts. This is because with a student card and ArtFund, you’re likely to be eligible for different types of discounts. 

For example, on the Hayward Gallery website, it lists the standard ticket price first, with an option to view concession tickets. This is a prime example of where there is a heavier discount for younger people than the general ‘student’ ticket. It’s worth viewing all the options and seeing which is the best price, for instance you may be a UAL student over the age of 30, but a resident of Lambeth borough, or have an Art Fund pass, all of which are cheaper options than the student ticket. Graphical user interface, table

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Tate Galleries: sign up to Tate Collective for free if you are aged 16-25! £5 entry for all paid- for exhibitions across Tate Modern, Britain, Liverpool and St Ives. 

Barbican: sign up to Young Barbican for free if you are under 25! £5 entry to many exhibitions, performances and cinema showings but not every single event will be eligible for this discount.  

Royal Academy of Art, London: Student discount exists but far cheaper with ArtFund. The Royal Academy is one of the most expensive galleries in London, the main shows are big but even with a student discount, prices often reach £18 for one show! They do however offer a scheme for art and design students to be able to obtain free tickets that get emailed out on a newsletter service, which is a brilliant way of seeing these expensive exhibitions totally free, but these are limited so if you miss the email, you’ll likely find the tickets are all sold out, good luck! 

Most galleries and museums also have memberships which can be great if you visit a particular institution frequently.  

 

Discounted Cinema

The most expensive cinemas in London tend to be in the West End of the city in the Piccadilly, Leister Square and Soho areas. Sometimes there is very little price difference between cinema chains and independent cinemas in London, as chains have different prices for all their cinemas depending on location. Vue tends to be the cheaper option for chain cinemas, however some of the independent cinemas offer great prices!  

BFI: £3 tickets for most showings when you sign up to their 25 and under scheme! And these cheap tickets can be booked in advance, online. You will need to book an individual ‘membership’ each time you wish to book a £3 ticket online. The BFI often shows old films, special re-releases, invite panels and host Q&A discussions in their cinemas, as well as playing some new releases. They offer the cheapest tickets in London but sadly this won’t benefit anyone over age 25. 

Barbican: £5 tickets are offered for cinema showings which are part of their Young Barbican 14-25 discount programme. You must be signed in to your YB account and book via the Young Barbican page on their website. Like the BFI, the Barbican won’t show all the newest releases in the cinema, but both often screen independent cinema, films not in the English language and rare and restores films. 

Peckhamplex: A low cost cinema with tickets for only £4.99! And yes, that includes the blockbusters. Tickets are this price without a student discount. A great option for people living in South London.  

ArtHouse Crouch End: independent cinema offering £5 student tickets on Mondays. Not quite as good as some of the other deals, but a good option for those based in North London. 

Odeon Limitless: a cinema clubcard for around £14.99 a month where you can visit your local Odeon to watch films as many times as you like in that month. This price is not a student discount.  

 

Discounted Theatre 

National Theatre: £5 tickets for 16-18 year olds and £10 tickets for 19-25 year olds. No sign-up is required.  

Young Vic: offers £10 tickets for people aged 25 and under and full-time students, so mature students in full-time education can benefit too! They also have other cheap ticket options   

Mousetrap Go Live: a club sign-up to access cheap theatre tickets and exclusive events.  

Shakespeare’s Globe: £5 standing tickets, great in the summer but it is open air which means you can get rained on! It’s a unique experience and a fascinating venue, not the most accessible but it’s well worth a fiver if you fancy something different. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse also offers £5 standing tickets. These are not student prices and are open for anyone to book, if they are able to.  

There are many more options here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/cheap-theatre-tickets/ and Student Beans offers a range of discounts for West End productions https://www.studentbeans.com/student-discount/uk/cats/theatre  

 

 

Cheap and Free Live Music 

There aren’t generally student discounts for live music but not all gigs will set you back £100. Most of the cheap (or free!) places to see live music are in pubs that usually have a separate room for live music. These venues are usually 18+ and probably won’t attract household name musicians, but are often great choices to discover new music or hear lesser-known bands perform. Here are a list of some of them: 

Banquet Records in-store and local venue gigs, Kingston-Upon-Thames. Most gigs will only cost around £13 because they are often shorter sets (45 minutes) where a band or artist may do a warm-up gig before going on tour. Gigs are usually either in-store or at the local Kingston nightclub Pryzm.  

Rough Trade: a record store company who often bring in bands to perform in their stores for the release of an artists’ new album, tickets are cheap and can be bought via their website.  

Lafayette: this new intimate venue in Kings Cross attracts a range of musicians and bands, usually for tickets around £15-20.  

Pizza Express Live: a few locations around London which have a live music room attached to Pizza Express restaurants! 

Plus many pubs across London host cheap or even free music nights! Famous locations include: Windmill Brixton, The Dublin Castle, The Shacklewell Arms, The Lexington, Boston Music Room, The Camden Assembly Pub, The Camden Club, Fidler’s Elbow, The Old Blue Last, The Water Rats, Piano Works Farringdon, Sebright Arms, The Boogaloo, The Blues Kitchen among many others! 

 

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