25 Cheap Ways For Young People To See Culture In London

Last Updated 27 March 2024

25 Cheap Ways For Young People To See Culture In London
Couple looking at art in Tate Modern
Young people can see world class art exhibitions for as little as £5 in London. 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, 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 culture the city has on offer.

Cultural institutions are waking up to this fact. Many have introduced young people's tickets. These aren't concessions for students, but ticket prices decided by age*. These schemes can save you a packet, although they're not always well advertised. To help, we've rounded up the best deals that help young people to see London's culture, affordably.

*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
The Barbican has the gold standard of affordable ticket schemes. 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 blockbuster shows here can cost upwards of £20, 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 plethora of Tate shops. 16-25 year olds.

Dulwich Picture Gallery outdoor pavilion
Dulwich Picture Gallery offers £5 tickets for young people.

DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY: The fancy facade of Dulwich Picture Gallery might hint at a whopping entry fee, but fear not. All exhibitions here 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 whacking great 50% discount to all those under 30. Under 30s.

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY: For some of its major exhibitions — including The Time Is Always Now (22 February-19 May 2024), the National Portrait Gallery offers £5 tickets for under 25s; when you go to book tickets online, make sure you you select that option — then take ID to the gallery. 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 £20 for an annual Blue Membership. With that comes free entry to all the galleries and 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, free entry is available to all when you visit on a Tuesday. Under 26s.

Buddha statue in British Museum
Pay less than £50 a year to see as many British Museum shows as you like. Photo: Nicole Baster

THE POSTAL MUSEUM: This Clerkenwell museum — which features the famous Mail Rail — offers a small discount (£5 off regular prices) if you fit the envelope of 24 or younger. 16-24 year olds.

THE BRITISH MUSEUM: Home to some of the juiciest blockbusters of the year, the British Museum offers discounted memberships for people under 26 (£49 for individual; £79 for a +1).) That may sound pricey, but after that, all your shows are free for the year — and considering the average ticket price for an exhibition is well north of £20, you don't need to visit much for that 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

Michael Sheen as Nye Bevan
Score NT tickets for as little as £5 or £10 depending on just how young you are. Image: National Theatre

NATIONAL THEATRE: The South Bank's brutalist masterpiece (sod off, non-believers) has heavily discounted tickets for 19-25s (£10) and 16-18s (£5), which is incredibly good value for some of the best theatre you'll see in London. Just browse tickets, and then select the young persons option. 16-25 year olds.

YOUNG VIC: Little sibling to the Old Vic, the Young Vic is where to go for cutting edge shows, and it's also the place 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 £12 tickets for under 25s (as well as all full-time students) for every performance. This theatre also has a pretty nifty bar. 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. It's also home to affordable tickets for those 27 and under — just £15 for specific performances throughout the season. Under 27s.

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 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
If you're under 27, you're in the running for cheap Royal Court seats. 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 in on the theatre action. Arrive 45 minutes before any show is due to start with proof of your age, and a £5 ticket could be yours. 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.

The Bridge Theatre has two schemes for cheap tickets. Image: Bridge Theatre.

BRIDGE THEATRE: This semi-immersive riverfront theatre, has a scheme called Young Bridge that's free to join. It means you can purchase discounted 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.

REGENT'S PARK OPEN AIR THEATRE: This is one of those slightly irritating, but probably-worth-it pay-to-join 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 £45, 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 30 you can get in there for a little bit cheaper than 'proper' adults. Bush Connect grants you £10 off tickets in the main Holloway Theatre, and £5 off for shows in the studio, along with special offers and 20% off at the bar. In fact we love to pop into this bar even if we're not seeing a production. Under 26.

ENO: The London Coliseum is one of the West Ends more opulent theatres, and you can also experience it for nada, should you take advantage of ENO's (English national Opera's) offers for young people. Under 35s can score discounted tickets, 16-21 year-olds get a free ticket, and 5-15 year-olds get TWO free tickets. 5-35

20% off at the bar is one of the perks at Bush Theatre. Photo: Bush Theatre

KILN THEATRE: Kilburn's Kiln Theatre makes it simple. 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.

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. The cinema also holds talks and events specifically for young people. AND there are £5 tickets for BFI festivals, too. 25 and under.

SADLER'S WELLS: London's home of dance does a free Barclays Dance Pass, which unlocks £10 tickets for both its main theatre in Angel, and its Holborn offshoot, the Peacock Theatre. 16-30

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, you get unlimited free tickets to Cinema 3, plus 50% off other cinema screenings. 26 and under.

Know of any deals we've missed out? Email [email protected] or drop a comment down below.

Updated February 2024 by Will Noble.