The Student’s Guide to Enjoying Art and Theatre in London

Art can be expensive. Theatre can be expensive. London can also be expensive. Add a broke student into the mix and it sounds like a recipe for disaster.


For undergraduate art lovers (myself included) desperate to see the latest South American ‘Radical Geometry’ or Malevich exhibition, forking out for tickets every month gets pricey. Especially when you’re forced to survive on Pot Noodles (results may vary depending on levels of dedication from the art enthusiast). Here are some handy money-saving ideas to get you to all sorts of art frolics for a fraction of the normal cost.

The king of all arts savings: the National Art Pass. For £57 (hold on, I know it sounds expensive), you can get yourself to exhibitions at the Design Museum, the National Gallery and the Whitechapel Gallery (among many more) for half the price. You can attend the Virginia Woolf exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery for £3.15 instead of £6.50 – and card holders also get free entry to 29 museums and galleries across London. It feels like Christmas.

Many galleries across our amazing capital also have student concessions (provided you have your ID to hand and it’s not lying somewhere on a Shoreditch nightclub floor), which saves a few quid when booking your tickets. You know the Tesco motto.

Websites like Skint London are student heaven: full of the best under-a-tenner food offers, clothing discounts and 2-for-1 happy hours, this site has it covered – and is also great for free arts-related events. Things they recently tweeted include a free art exhibition at The White Cube, a pop-up vintage fair at Old Spitalfields and a free retro gaming night. Follow them on Twitter here for the latest info on where to pick up everything from a free Pret smoothie to half-price breakfasts.

Tuning your student brain to pick up on free events can take some time (especially when you’ve been living out of student digs for the summer), so Time Out has kindly done it for us in an archive of free art shows here – and a whole list of free festivals, comedy and outdoor theatre events. For QM’s budding actors, actresses and theatre-lovers? London Theatre Tickets has some really useful tips for buying show tickets on their website, including an amazing scheme for students allowing us to go to National Theatre shows for £5 each. Not too shabby – and five pounds can also buy you a standing ticket for a Shakespeare production at the Globe.

Perfect for an afternoon perusal and cup of tea with a friend, markets are a great way to spend time. And the best part is that they’re free. Visit London has a great selection of antique and craft markets on their website here – highlights are Covent Garden and Greenwich Market, which are both home to stalls selling crafts and art prints. Spitalfields Art Market is also ideal for getting inspiration from original artworks, photography and a variety of prints.

This is good news all round: your art and theatre habit isn’t eating up your student loan – and now you can afford more cocktails.


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