Monday, 6 August 2012

The Skint Londoner on... Entertainment

If, like me, your money never seems to stretch far enough and you're always counting down the days till payday (25...) then living in London can be pretty miserable. I love living here, but it is so bloody expensive. With this in mind, I've gathered up a few tips on how to get first class entertainment at second class prices.

Theatre / Opera

  1.  Yes, you can turn up to the theatre box office on the day and hope they have some seats left. Alternatively, you can get yourself an Entry Pass membership (free), from the National Theatre ( and get tickets to certain shows for £5, and £7.50 for a friend. Of course there's a catch: you have to be under 26 years old, but if you are, it's a great deal. 
  2. The English National Opera has a similar scheme, called Access All Arias with tickets starting from £10 ( AND this is for all students and anyone under 30.
  3. Fancy a bit of Shakespeare? Then the Globe Theatre, on the South Bank, offers 700 £5 standing tickets for every performance. Yes, the performances can last a couple of hours. Yes, you might get wet. But for £5, who's complaining?
  4. Go to see smaller plays and / or at smaller theatres. Yesterday, there were £2.50 tickets to Cesario at the National Theatre's pop-up workshop (available at the same address as above). Shows of unknown plays or with new actors are often much, much cheaper than the big West End musicals, and usually just as good. Also try checking out local theatres, such as the Arcola Theatre in Dalston ( and the Hackney Empire in, you guessed, it Hackney ( I watched 100% London there last month for the princely sum of £10. And it was awesome.
  1. There are free comedy nights in abundance in London; I've been to an evening at the Camden Head. The acts somewhat varied in quality, but they are usually pretty short and sweet so if you really do hate someone, it will be over soon!
  2. Try getting tickets to rehearsals of a comedian's tour: I've had £5 tickets to watch Michael McIntyre test out his material before, and £10 tickets for a rehearsal of Stand up for the Week. Ticketweb ( and We Got Tickets ( are where I find mine. Subscribe to stay up to date of the best offers, although be warned, they do seem to send a lot of emails.
  1. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of open mic nights (or karaoke, if you count that as music) offering music and / or gigs for free. I'm not a big music fan to be truthful and so I'm probably not the best person for suggestions. However, if you are into something a little bit different, the Vortex Jazz Bar ( usually has tickets from about £8. It looks a little scary outside, but inside it's fine and the bar is relatively cheap.
  2. Also look for cultural performances - the Royal Opera House is running musical performances among other events for Africa Ignite at the end of August - and some tickets are free!  (
If anyone is a big Opera fan by the way, this guardian article has some excellent suggestions for getting cheap tickets

That's all for this post, if anyone has any other suggestions, please do share. Coming up soon will be posts on eating on the cheap and a round up of the best galleries and museums.

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