Best Deals for Under 25 Culture Buffs Living in London

Living in London as a young person is amazing. You might not be able to make or save too much money but there are plenty of wallet rescuing offers the city offers. If you’re culture crazy then you can’t help loving London, it’s a city that looks after its young ones and for that, I love it even more.

London is a microcosm of global culture and there is always something going on. There is history, theatre, art, comedy, great food and so much else going on literally all the time. This is the one city where you cannot run out of things to do. I was lucky enough to be Under 25 and living in London and definitely made the most of it. Here are some of my all-time favourite deals:

National Theatre- Entry Pass: The Entry Pass is basically a free membership to the National Theatre if you’re between the age of 16 to 25. It lets you watch shows for £5 and you can also take a buddy along for £7.50 (provided they are under 25). A couple of seats for every performance are reserved under this scheme and you just have to book early enough. Nearly every show I watched at the National (and there must have been at least 50 of them) was with my Entry Pass. I was able to see some phenomenal performances for all of  £5 and that for me is brilliant in itself. A lot of the NT Productions recently have been making it to West End where the tickets go up to over  £80. If you’re a Theatre nutter like me this membership is one of the best out there (and it’s free, so really what have you got to lose?). Oh, and they also host a free outdoor theatre festival every year called Inside Out: the quality of performers at this festival is brilliant and NT makes it all free for everyone- under 25 or not.
The National Theatre Entry Pass ensures a full and affordable cultural calendar for under 25s

 The Barbican- FreeB: The Barbican is much more than a Theatre, it’s a creative space for all kinds of art. It’s a venue for concerts, theatre, circus acts, art installations, dance, talks, cinema and so much more. A few years ago they were home to Random International’s most ambitious art project to date “The Rain Room”. An interactive installation that was free to visit and that let you experience what it might be like to control rain. Not just for its quality and diversity but also for its fantastic customer service and flexibility The Barbican is one of the top venues in London. They have a FreeB scheme for 16 to 25-year-olds where you can get discounts as well as free tickets to tonnes of events.

The FreeB scheme at the Barbican, London ensures everyone can make the most of all that they showcase

Old Vic Theatre- PwC’s Under 25 Club: This used to be the Aditya Mittal’s Under 25 scheme until 2011 and now it’s sponsored by PwC. With this scheme, anyone under 25 gets to watch the Old Vic’s legendary performances for under £12. One of my London theatre highlights was watching Kevin Spacey as Richard III directed by Sam Mendes from the first row. People around me had paid so much money for the tickets and there I was paying only £12. Thanks to schemes like this being young doesn’t mean not being able to afford quality experiences…in fact, it almost becomes a privilege.

National Trust- Young Person Membership: If you love old buildings, historic castles, natural parks and the countryside then this membership is for you. I love all of those things as well as hiking/camping and this membership was of great use to me.

With my Y.P Membership, I could stay in the National Trust countryside bothies and campsites, use their parking lots as well as visit all the properties under their care for free. The National Trust does a lot of great work and contributes a lot when it comes to preserving the heritage and history of the U.K. Any support they get is always helpful and for only £28 for an entire year this card is definitely worth the money. I’d signed up for it on an impulse on a camping trip to Lake District but you don’t have to trek all the way there, just do it online. That said – on a slightly related note- Lake District is beautiful and it won’t be such a bad thing if you went up there and signed up for a membership.

A National Trust, UK membership allows you free access to some stunning locations
National Rail- 16-25 Railcard: Another one for the travellers… the fact that you have to pay £30 annually to get the discounts might be a bit deterring at first. However, all you need to take is two or maybe three train trips and you would’ve saved more than £30 already. Especially handy if you’re one who makes last minute plans because this card can help you save a fair bit of money. The system is a bit outdated though and you need to carry both bits of the card for the discount to be applicable. One has your picture and the other has the expiry date on it. Don’t ask me why they can’t put both on the same paper. This also means if you get on the train without one-half of your Railcard there is no way for them to check on their system if you’re telling the truth. You’re just going to have to pay a penalty fair or go through a very lengthy process to “prove your innocence”. I’d support this a lot more wholeheartedly if the system was just a bit better organised. Hopefully, they’ll come around to improving it. National Express also offers a similar 16-26 scheme for Coach Travel if that’s more up your alley.
More London Cheap Deals:
 
Shakespeare’s Globe on Southbank has £5 standing tickets which is the way the “rabble” in Shakespeare’s day watched theatre. It is so much fun being part of the rabblement: during performances, lots of lines are directed at you, it’s okay to lean on the stage and stand, the actors move around you and you end up feeling like you’re part of the play in so many ways. Then there is the Arcola Theatre with its Pay What You Can Tuesdays. The quality of the performances here isn’t always top notch but it’s definitely more hits than misses.  Another one of my favourite theatres that does cheap deals is The Royal Court Theatre with its £10 Monday offers . These tickets, however, sell out extremely quickly so you’re better off booking in advance. Also, you don’t even have to be under 25 to avail these offers.
The Globe Theatre, London: An age-old icon in the city
 Lastly if “booking in advance” is not your thing then most London theatres including the ones on West End sell a select amount of day tickets for £10. All you have to do is queue up early in the morning on the day you want to watch the show. I stood in the queue for The Audience starring Helen Mirren at 8:00 A.M  and there were already at least 20 people or more ahead of me. Luckily I managed to get a standing ticket for £10, a very small price to pay to watch the Dame herself perform. I did the same thing for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and managed to score front row stall tickets for £10.
And some London Freebies:
Other than all of the above, there are also a lot of freebies London offers. As you probably know there are a whole host of free museums in London. Where else can you see the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Rembrandt without paying a single penny? What you might not know is that nearly each museum hosts a monthly Museum Night. These are free fun nights for adults when the museums are open late. There is usually a pop-up bar and some really cool events and activities are involved. The V&A Museum Nights and the Science Museum Lates are really entertaining because they always have a theme of sorts and go out of their way to plan a memorable night out for their visitors.
Most people stop their museum-going at the Tate and National Galleries. Don’t forget London’s tinier museums which are worth a visit too.  For instance, Geffryes Museum in Hoxton is quite unique and of course, free. The museum showcases the evolution of gardens and living rooms through the ages. Pretty cool right? It’s kind of like a historic IKEA Catalogue. The entire museum is set in 18th-century almshouses and there is a restored almshouse on the property which is open to visitors on certain days.They also have the most sweet smelling little herb garden at the back of the museum which is a great space to hang out with a book for a couple of hours.
The picturesque Geffrye’s Museum, London should be on every museum goers “To See” list
Next, the city and the different boroughs are always holding a bunch of free festivals (mostly in the summer). One of the best ones is the City of London Festival which conducts concerts, shows and performances of all sorts in the City of London Borough. In case you’re wondering what boroughs are, they’re the various administrative districts in the city. Sometimes if you live in a particular borough you are entitled to certain discounts. For instance: I lived in the Tower Hamlets borough and could see the Tower of London for £1. Check your council website to see what freebies and/or discounts you’re entitled to.
Bicycle Ballet as part of the City of London Festival
Another one of my top “free” things to do as a broke student in London was to go the Borough Market and try out all the free samples. There is fresh grub from everywhere and you get to learn so much about world foods and culture just by wandering its crowded lanes. Once I got my first job I made it a point to go back to the market and buy goodies from my favourite vendors who’d so kindly spared generous samples for a broke student’s belly. My absolute favourites are the lovely Pate Moi folk and their mushroom pate which is the best thing you’ll take back home with you from Borough Market. It’s easy to see that it’s made with a whole lot of love.
The sights and smells of Borough Market every Fri & Sat soon become familiar and comforting despite the crowds
Going to Borough Market, London is a complete sensory experience
Volunteer for Supper Clubs: If you live in London and you’re a foodie, you have to experience the Supper Club culture. They’re basically dinners hosted by amateur chefs (and sometimes professional chefs too) who are passionate about food.  Supper Clubs are quite low key and are often held in the homes of the hosts themselves. Once you sign up to an event you’re then emailed the location a day or two before the dinner. They normally involve a couple of courses and can be quite expensive if you’re a student or just a young person trying to survive in London. A good way to still be a part of one is to volunteer to help. Supper Club hosts are always looking for people to help them out and in return for your help on one evening, you get treated to a scrumptious multi-course meal. I think that’s a pretty fair deal. It would be a bit unethical of me to give out email addresses and other contact details as most hosts would not appreciate that. If you’re interested, however, a simple Google search will serve you well.
Of course if you’re a full-time student then there are discounts for pretty much everything in London : clothing stores, festivals, concerts, restaurants, theatre etc etc etc etc. Just carry your student card with you at all times and always ask if there is a student discount because chances are there is one even if it is not always advertised.
I love London and these little things made my time in the city so much sweeter. Yes, the city can be expensive but like I said earlier they do cater for the younger generation and there are a lot of free, cheap and discounted deals floating around. These are just some of them and I hope they make your London experience even better. Happy Exploring!

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