Aged 16-25? London's best culture hacks
EDITOR'S PICK: We’ve lined up the best ways to hack into London’s culture so that you can experience free art in London and gain access to heavily discounted theatre tickets.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the pursuit of London culture can rack up a tremendously large bill. Trips to galleries, theatres, gigs and restaurants leave you unable to afford your favourite Pret sandwich.
Statistics from the ONS show that 2014’s 16-25 year olds could be the most voracious culture consumers in history. The same findings also show that the numbers anxious about their own finances remains higher than in the past.
Yet an enjoyment of cultural life need not ruin you financially. We’ve lined up the best ways to hack into London’s culture so that you can experience free art in London and gain access to heavily discounted theatre tickets. Some of these tips are only relevant if you’re under 26. BUT it’s not all doom and gloom if you’re pushing into older wiser years. Many of our hacks are available to all.
Reduced Price Tickets for Art Exhibitions
1. Young Friend (ages 16-25), Royal Academy – £45 per year
One of London’s most prestigious venues, this friendship is worth drinking the elixir of eternal youth for. Entry to the keepers house (an exquisite arty oasis for you to secrete yourself away with a book in the heart of Mayfair), access to friends previews and the quarterly RA mag delivered straight to your doorstep. Of course - unlimited free art exhibitions for you and a guest come as standard. What’s more, you’ll get a limited edition Grayson Perry art manifesto napkin for your personal exhibition space (pocket, wall, shelf or other…)
2. National Art Pass (under 26) – £22.50 per year via direct debit
This cultural passport ensures easy passage to art galleries, in London and beyond. Not only do you get 50% off all major exhibitions, from Celts to Goya to Boticelli.Your money goes to Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art who’ve been supporting museums and galleries and enabling them to buy works of art for over 110 years. Plus you even get to choose your own membership card design.
Cheap London Theatre Tickets for Under 26s
3. Entry Pass, National Theatre (ages 16-25) – free to join!
Entry pass is free for all between the ages of 16-25, and it’s incredibly easy to sign up to. For every, single performance at the National Theatre there’s an opportunity to get a £5 theatre ticket, and because it’s no fun going to the theatre alone - you can take a friend (youthful companions of a similar age bracket only) for £7.50. You’ll also get access to exclusive workshops and free talks. Tried and tested by the Culture Whisper team - these are fascinating for theatre buffs and novices alike. With entry pass, you can also grab a discounted drink at the bar afterwards… what’s not to like!
4. £5 Almeida Mondays (ages 13-26) – £15 to join
Pay £15 in exchange for £5 Happy Monday tickets at the Almeida theatre, one of the most exciting off-West-End theatres around (plus you’ll be invited to follow-up discussions with the creative team). With Oresteia & 1984 both making West End transfers this year, this is the best way to see some of London’s coolest plays before their critical success sends them spiralling into the West End where tickets can average up to £50.
Plus, the Bush Theatre, Young Vic Theatre and Tricycle Theatre all offer discounted tickets if you’re under 26, ranging between £5-£12.
5. PwC 25, The Old Vic, (25 and under) – free to join!
You may still be in shock after Kevin Spacey’s departure as artistic director, but after buzz around Kristen Scott Thomas’ Electra, The Old Vic is certainly not losing face. In partnership with PwC they reduce 100 £12 seats across across the auditorium for every performance. Now you can see the plays that everyone’s talking about for a snip of the usual price. Booking is simple and doesn’t require a sign up, just the code “PWC 25” - don’t forget your proof of age when you collect your tickets.
6. Royal Shakespeare Company, The RSC Key – free to join!
As a holder of an RSC Key, you are able to buy tickets to productions in both London and Stratford-upon-Avon for just £5. With productions at a number of venues across the capital, the RSC Key not only guarantees great theatre, but also a chance to get to a variety of locations around London.
Cheap Cinema Tickets, London
7. Young Barbican, Barbican (ages 16-25) – free to join!
The Barbican’s young person’s scheme is free to join, and they invite you to bring a companion for the same price. Young Barbican offer tickets across the varied art forms that their venue notoriously plays host to (gigs, film, music, theatre and dance) for just £5, £10 or £15. PLUS, it’s our favourite secret haunt for cheap cinema tickets, London - you can see new releases in their cinemas for just £5 Monday to Thursday.
8. ICA Concessions Membership, ICA (Under 26) – £10 membership
The ICA on London’s Mall is a forward-thinking arts centre dedicated to the avant-garde. Its membership offers innumerable benefits including £3 Cinema tickets on Tuesdays, 10% discount on all books and at the ICA Café Bar as well as 12 free Members’ Screenings and many, many more! A full list of membership boons is available via their website.
Cheap Classical Music Tickets, London
9. Young Friend, Royal Opera House – £54 to join
The best way to get cheap tickets at the ROH is to be at the very front of the queue, and this applies to everyone. If you’re under 25, and still a student their offering is fantastic with tickets ranging between £1 - £25 and discounts in their bars. Alternatively, you can become a Young Friend for £54 to ensure you get access to priority booking.
10. Glyndebourne, Under 30s – free to join!
Opera in the South Downs demands that you leave the city and bring your picnic. It’s the biggest event in opera’s calendar and if you’re aged 16-29 you can take advantage of £30 tickets to the Festival, discounts for concerts, dining and more. Some performances are even reserved exclusively for Glyndebourne under-30s. We recommend signing up early as this really is too good to miss.
11. Wigmore Hall, Under 35s – £5 tickets
Firmly established as one of the world's pre-eminent chamber music venues, Wigmore Hall is able to offer a number of £5 tickets to under 35s. Available at most concerts, this is an opportunity to hear the best ensembles from around the world at a tiny cost. Tickets are subject to availability so make sure you book early to avoid disappointment.
12. ENO, Access All Arias – free to join!
This free to join scheme allows you to enjoy world-class productions at a greatly reduced price. The scheme allows members to bring a plus 1 at a discounted price too. Other perks include half-price programmes and email updates on last minute ticket offers and upcoming bookings.
The Ultimate Culture Hack:
13. Culture Whisper Membership – £32.50 for under 26s
The secret to securing any cheap ticket is booking in advance. This is where Culture Whisper is your key, we’ll keep you up to date and remind you when to book for all of the best London events. You’ll get personalised recommendations so you know what’s hot as well as suggestions for where to eat nearby so you can make the most of London. PLUS, we organise a selection of curated exclusives every month across pop-up restaurants, theatres and galleries with an ambition to offer you at least £100 worth of savings every year. With 50% off annual membership for under 26’s, you can find the London you’ll love for just £32.50 – that’s £2.70 per month, the equivalent of a coffee. To gain an exclusive voucher code email: [email protected].
Another hack is to make some money with mystery shopper