Entertainment in London
London may be known for being notoriously expensive, but that doesn’t mean as a student you have to miss out. With so many free events, venues and places of interest scattered throughout the city, you’ll be stuck for choice on how to spend those rare study breaks.
Art & Culture
London is a prime hub for anything remotely artistic, and offers a wealth of educational resources to rejuvenate your creativity.
Among its top free museums are the British Museum, which encapsulates enough history, art and replicas to keep you immersed for up to a week. The National History Museum, meanwhile, is an entertaining journey into the wonders of the world, with ever-changing exhibitions covering everything from prehistory to marine, mammal and human biology.
Those loving a hands-on experience will love the Tate Modern, which runs interactive exhibitions via digital exhibitions and projects, and free guided tours every day. And the Science Museum is sure to enthrall you with its own interactive displays and special ‘Lates’ for over-18s, which continue till after-hours.
London’s prime musical hub has to be Camden town, where some of the biggest bands in history are said to have started out, including Jimi Hendrix, The Clash, Nirvana, Bob Dylan and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. If you’re paying it a visit, be sure to pop by Electric Ballroom, Underworld or Koko (where Britpop lives) to catch a glimpse of the latest upcoming talent.
Another musical hotspot not to be missed is Rough Trade Records East, one of the UK’s biggest independent record suppliers. Not only can you pick up some hotly anticipated independent music, you can also attend record signings with your favourite artists and catch acoustic performances from unexpected names.
Cinema & Theatre
London is a movie buff’s paradise, with several independent cinemas, outdoor screenings and free film events taking place at various locations throughout the year. Be sure to check out E4’S Slackers Club in Hoxton, which offers free screenings to members at Playhouse cinemas across the land) and the Classic Cinema Club for some unbeatable deals at exciting places. The Rooftop Film Club, meanwhile, takes movie-watching to another level with its director chair-style seating; rooftop bar and barbecue, blankets and wireless headphones.
While catching a West End show might seem like a natural choice for the London-bound, a student budget doesn’t always make that possible. Luckily, students can still get their fix of theatre thanks to the Royal Opera House’s Student Standby scheme; English National Opera’s Access All Arias, and the Barbican Centre’s ticket allocation scheme. Check out our Student Deals page for more info.
Out & About
When you first arrive in London, it could be a good idea to take a guided tour of the city so you can get your bearings and learn some useful landmarks. However, there are also a bunch of themed tours in London which make soaking up the city all the more fun. Harry Potter fans will love the Harry Potter Bus Tour, for example, which takes you on a three-hour whirl around the city’s film locations including King’s Cross Station, 12 Grimmauld Place and the Leaky Cauldron.
For a bit of self-indulgence without breaking the bank, London has a collection of different street markets, each with their own taste and vibe. Try Spitalfield’s Market for some vintage clothing, art and books, along with some delectable street food. Camden Market is great for punk, goth and alternative finds, while Hatton Garden offers a bit of luxury as the city’s main jewellery quarter.
If you’re looking for something inspiring, why not book yourself onto one of London’s regular TEDx talks? These are very often free and can be a fantastic way to branch out and expand your knowledge. At the same time, Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park provides the ideal opportunity to listen to a new motivational talk every Sunday, with plenty of debate involved. Named to promote the right to free speech, the Corner allows anybody to get up and spout their viewpoint on any topic, and it’s said that historical greats like Marx, Orwell and the Suffragettes used it to launch their own ideas.