24 Cheap Ways For Young People To See Culture In London

24 Cheap Ways For Young People To See Culture In London
Couple looking at art in Tate Modern
Photo: Maria Teneva

London is expensive, and that's especially true if you're young.

You're less likely to be earning, and even if you are earning, it's probably less than your elder colleagues — thanks to both a lack of experience and a lower minimum wage. So it can be hard to access the myriad of incredible culture the city has on offer.

Cultural institutions have woken up to this fact, many introducing young people's tickets. These aren't concessions for students, but ticket prices decided by age*. These schemes are fantastic, although lots of venues aren't particularly talented at advertising them. So we've rounded up the best deals for young people to see London's culture, affordably.

*A word of warning. Nearly all the schemes on this list require valid ID to verify your age. We wouldn't recommend trying anything like this, in search of a discount.

Barbican Centre
Photo: Stuart Frisby

Museums and galleries

BARBICAN: The Barbican has the gold standard of affordable ticket schemes. Perhaps this is because of the institution's links to the City of London corporation, which is swimming in cash. Whatever the reason, you need to take advantage. Sign up for free to Young Barbican, which has massively discounted tickets for all major art shows — usually just £5. On top of that there's Young Barbican Nights, which are essentially Young Barbican exclusive museum lates, but with an extra dose of classy merriment. 14-25 year olds.

TATE: Considering its status as the capital's leading modern art institution, it's only right that Tate has a young person's ticket. Enter Tate Collective, a scheme that offers £5 tickets to all of Tate's exhibitions. Considering one of the gallery's blockbuster shows costs £18, that's quite the reduction. There's also a 20% discount at all of Tate's cafes and restaurants, and a 10% discount at the bountiful number of Tate shops. 16-25 year olds.

Dulwich Picture Gallery outdoor pavilion
The Colour Palace at Dulwich Picture Gallery

DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY: The fancy facade of Dulwich Picture Gallery might make you think you need to pay a whopping entry fee to see the latest exhibition. Fear not, young people. All exhibitions are just £5 if you're still blessed with youth. In fact, this scheme is rather more generous than some of its competitors, bequeathing a discount to all those under 30, instead of just those in their early 20s. Under 30s.

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY: What are you doing on Friday? We only ask because that's the day young people get discounted tickets to the National Portrait Gallery. Exhibitions cost £5 less than a third of what they would be otherwise — and there's no feeling quite like kicking off the weekend with an absolute bargain. Under 25s.

INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ARTS: The ICA's young person's scheme operates a little differently to others. There's a one time payment of £15 for an annual Blue Membership. With that comes free entry to all the galleries exhibitions and discounted tickets to everything else on offer (scroll down to the bottom of the article for more on that). If this isn't for you, there is free entry available to all, as long as you visit on a Tuesday. Under 26s.

Buddha statue in British Museum
Photo: Nicole Baster

THE POSTAL MUSEUM: One of London's newest museums, The Postal Museum offered a young person's ticket right out of the gate. It's not the biggest discount (just £5 off regular prices) but every little helps. Also did we mention how awesome Mail Rail is? 16-24 year olds.

THE BRITISH MUSEUM: Another case where you have to buy a membership to then get free entry to the British Museum. It's the priciest option on this list: £44, which is a £20 saving compared to a normal membership. However considering the average ticket price for an exhibition here is £20, you don't need to make many visits for your membership to come good. Under 26.

NATIONAL ART PASS: Art Fund's National Art Pass is a steal. You pay for one membership, which then goes on to grant you free entry to a myriad of galleries and museums across London. And if it doesn't get you free entry somewhere, it probably gets you half price. Usually the Art Pass costs £70 per year, but if you're under 30, it's just £45. Under 30s.

On stage/screen

NATIONAL THEATRE: The South Bank's brutalist masterpiece (sod off, non-believers) has a scheme called Entry Pass, which gives young people access to £7.50 tickets to all National Theatre productions. And if you've got a friend who's also 16-25, you can get them in for £10 too. 16-25 year olds.

National Theatre
Photo: Simone Hutsch

YOUNG VIC: Little sibling to the Old Vic, the Young Vic is the superior theatre in our eyes. Not only does it produce cutting edge shows, it's also the one with a ticket deal for young people (although the Old Vic does have the PwC £10 previews available for all). The Young Vic holds a number of £10 tickets for under 25s for every performance. Oh, and it has a much better bar than the theatre down the road. Under 25s.

ROYAL COURT: Sloane Square's Royal Court hosts some of the edgiest shows in London, perhaps not what you'd expect to find in Chelsea. The affordable Young Court Friend tickets are also seemingly not very Chelsea — it's free to join the scheme, which gives you access to a select number of £15 tickets for all performances. Under 26s.

DONMAR WAREHOUSE: Covent Garden's Donmar Warehouse takes a slightly randomised approach to giving young people tickets. Its scheme Young+Free operates on a ballot. The downside of this is that you're not guaranteed to get cheap tickets. The upside is that if you do get them, they're not just cheap, they're free. And these aren't as rare as one of Willy Wonka's golden tickets either — thousands are given away each year. 16-25 year olds.

Royal Court Theatre
Photo: Check-in London

ALMEIDA THEATRE: Tucked away off Upper Street in Angel, the Almeida Theatre consistently produces some of the best drama in a medium-sized theatre in London; it isn't unusual to see its productions transferred to the West End. It also consistently offers young people £5 tickets on select performance dates. 25 and under.

PARK THEATRE: This gem of a theatre, nestled behind Finsbury Park station, has a free membership scheme for young people. It offers £10 tickets for shows during the first week of performances, and on the day £5 rush tickets. There's also a 10% discount for the cafe bar, which — although not substantial — is yet another reason to hang out in one of the loveliest theatre bars in London. 16-26 year olds.

THE YARD: No Empty Seats is The Yard in Hackney Wick's attempt to get more young people attending theatre. They're in the same venue every Friday and Saturday night, when it transforms into a club. So it shouldn't be too hard to get them to come for some drama. If you show up on the day of the performance, young people can nab it for a fiver. 25 and under.

HAMPSTEAD THEATRE: This poorly-named yet excellent theatre (it's more in Swiss Cottage than Hampstead) offers a limited number of £10 tickets to under 30s for every show. They go fast, so be sure to book ahead. Under 30s.

Bridge Theatre

BRIDGE THEATRE: London Bridge's new(ish) riverfront theatre, has a scheme called Young Bridge that's free to join. It means you can purchase £15 tickets for every performance. If you add your date of birth to your account, you'll then be able to purchase £7.50 tickets for select performances. We're not quite sure why there's a need for the two separate schemes, but hey, cheap tickets! 16-25 year olds.

REGENTS PARK OPEN AIR THEATRE: This is one of those slightly annoying pay to join young people membership schemes. It's £10 to become a Breeze member. This grants you two £10 Band B tickets to main-house productions. Those tickets cost regular folk £48, so paying that one-off fee immediately makes sense. 18-25 year olds.

BUSH THEATRE: This theatre in the heart of Shepherd's Bush was revamped into a proper modern beaut a few years back. If you're under 26 you can get in there for a little bit cheaper than proper adults. Bush Connect grants you £5 off tickets in the main Holloway Theatre, and £2.50 off for shows in the studio, along with special offers and 10% off at the bar. A cosy exposed brick bar that we love to pop into even if we're not seeing a production. Under 26.

Photo: Bush Theatre

KILN THEATRE: Kilburn's Kiln Theatre makes it simple for the young folks. Just click the under 26 concession option when booking, then go wild with the £10 theatre and £5 cinema tickets. Also if you get in touch, there are special invitations reserved to the theatre's Q&As for young people too. Under 26s.

ORANGE THEATRE: Out in Richmond, this bastion of independent drama offers £15 tickets to all those under 30, for its productions. This is one of those rare discounts that you can use on the best seats in the house too. Under 30s.

BFI: Shifting from stage to screen we come to the BFI, which offers ridiculously cheap £3 tickets to those 25 and under. That means you can watch stone cold classics, forgotten gems and the latest blockbusters for the same price as a box of popcorn. And there are specific talks and events held for young people at the cinema too. 25 and under.

BARBICAN: We went over how amazing Young Barbican is up top, but this is just a reminder that the cultural centre hosts more than just art exhibitions. The discounts extend to its theatre productions, musical concerts, and cinema tickets. Look, if you're a young London culture vulture you just have to be signed up. It's a must. 25 and under.

INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ARTS: Another one we covered in the museums/galleries section but the ICA doubles as a cinema dedicated to showing the freshest filmmaking out there. If you buy a Blue Membership not only do you get discounted tickets to the cinema, but there are also monthly free member's screenings to attend. 26 and under.


Know of any we've missed out? Email us here, or drop a comment down below.

Last Updated 09 January 2020