Ludotheque, United Kingdom

London, enjoyment at an affordable cost

Although one of the most expensive capital cities in the world, London offers a huge variety of activities to entertain adults and youngsters alike, without having to spend a single penny.

Ane Bores

A few days of living in the English capital is enough to realise that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world.  The affluent living standards here of qualified professionals, bankers and businessmen ensure that prices of products and services stay constantly inflated.

The ones who are affected are the humble, marginalised inhabitants of society, those who simply cannot afford to participate in this side of this Cosmopolitan city.

Out of more than thirty million visitors who go to the city each year coming from all corners of the world, most are aware of the undeniable fact that they are already suffering from the devaluation of their currency against the pound and as a result have to pay much higher prices for exactly the same types of products and services that they enjoy in their home country.

As a result of this, in many cases, most are obliged to give up on enjoyable cultural activities as prices can turn out to be excessive.

However, despite being Londoners, very few are aware that the aesthetic enjoyment should not be sacrificed for the sake of having a lack of money because now the city of the Thames offers a wide variety of activities for people from all walks of life which are completely free such as music concerts, shows, fairground attractions, artistic events and outdoor activities just to name a few.

As the Curtain Rises

Roxy Bar and Screen in Southwark offer many screenings from film noir classics to futuristic fantasy where film lovers from all over the world can enjoy an innovative programme.  In most cases entry is completely free of charge except in premieres where the cost is around £3.00.

In addition film festivals like the Portobello Film Festival and the London Film Festival which take place throughout the year are also a good alternative to see films without any cost involved.

Lastly, the amphitheatre The Scoop, the Horniman Museum and Garden and the Royal Opera House also offer outdoor screenings.

The same thing goes for the theatre:- In the heart of the city there are enormous illuminated posters announcing the arrival of the seasons theatrical performances, where the cheapest seat is no less than £10.00 – £15.00.  Fortunately there are small theatres outside the so-called “West End”, where the high quality of performances is maintained and prices are very affordable.  In fact the Arcola Theatre offers a limited number of tickets every Tuesday night at a reasonable cost.

Those under 26 are able to gain free entry through the program “A Night Less Ordinary”, in which some of the capital’s high class theatres participate, some of these being the Lyric Hammersmith, the Soho Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse.

Children can also benefit every summer during Kids Week, an event organised by the Society of London Theatre whereby a child’s ticket comes free with every adult ticket purchased.

A stroll through history

Something which highlights the city of London is that it is one of the few European capitals that offers free access to culture.
Although being home to some of the most spectacular museums and art galleries admired by the whole world, since 2001 entry has been completely free for everyone.

Lovers of art and history therefore are able to go to galleries and museums without having to pay.

In fact they can do so in the British Museum, the Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern and /or the National Gallery, as well as many others.

Music to My Ear

Music is one of the most important things this city has to offer, with concerts and musicals being in high demand.

Fortunately, in London without any deliberation you can enjoy a wide range of concerts.  For example, the National Theatre offers free sessions of “Djanogly Concert Pitch” in its main hall.

The times are Monday to Friday at 17.45, Saturday at 13:00 and 17:45 and occasionally, on Sundays at 13:45.

The Southbank Centre also offers free concerts every Friday night, and musical events every Friday and Sunday during lunch hours at the Central Bar of the Royal Festival Hall.

In the National Portrait Gallery (also every Friday) there are concerts from 18:30.  Some of the most popular bands in the world also tend to have in-store performances of their latest songs and albums at Oxford Street’s HMV flagship store. In Covent Garden often to light up your shopping trip, you will find street performers.

Outdoor amusement

Plans to spend time outdoors are a good way of relaxing without needing a big budget.

Those who feel very active have the opportunity to join more than 5,000 skaters, who every Friday skate through the streets of the English capital in the event known as the Friday Night Skate. The starting point is always at Wellington Arch, at 8pm.
On the other hand, for those who prefer something different, thanks to Sandemans New London Tours, one can enjoy a tour of the city lasting up to three hours visiting attractions such as the Houses of Parliament, St James’ Park and Buckingham Palace.  This tour operates daily at 11:00 and 13:00 hours also from Wellington Arch.
Another opportunity to experience absolute tranquillity is in the parks of London, a visit being especially recommended at weekends because they cover hundreds and hundreds of hectares all over the city and one’s chance to sunbathe with a small picnic is complete.

The views from Alexandra Palace or the Royal Observatory Hill in Greenwich Park are without a doubt the most popular, but something nature lovers will also find of a great interest are London’s Royal Parks, where experts give guided tours free of charge.

To participate in one of these tours, be sure to book your place in advance via phone or email. For additional information, visit the website at www.royalparks.gov.uk.

Comedy nights

Comedy shows are also a great choice of leisure and entertainment, and have already started guaranteeing the best laughs helping people to escape even for a few hours from their daily problems.

In most cases entry to this type of show is usually free or at a very small cost.
On Wednesday nights you can go to the Grafton Arms’ ‘Warren Street Comedy Therapy’ or ‘Scabby Tabby’ at The Red Lion in Soho, whereas Sunday’s bring an improvised comedy show called ‘Off the Cuff ‘ at the Rosemary Branch in Islington.

In addition, every Monday and the last Sunday of the month, the Theatre Royal Stratford East organizes free comedy nights. In Hackney Empire, this happens every Wednesday at the Comedy Café and every Monday at The Marie Lloyd Comedy Box both starting at 8pm.

A child’s paradise

There is a long list of free leisure and entertainment activities available to infants and adolescents alike.  To name a few, the Science Museum, National History Museum and the Museum of Childhood are just some of the many options available.  HMS Belfast offers free entrance to children under the age of 16 along with activities for the whole family taking place in the last week of each month.

Somerset House offers free access to those under the age of 18 and on the first Saturday of each month, the Royal Institution offers activities related to Science for the whole family.  The National Portrait Gallery provides the Young People’s Programme which includes workshops and art classes free to youngsters between the age of 14 and 21 years old whereas at The National Gallery, one can spend their Sundays taking part in art workshops and storytelling.

(Translated by Amanda Flanaghan – Email: aflanaghan@hotmail.com)

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