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16 January 2015

5 Ways to Get Free Tickets in London ● by Jess

London is a great place for entertainment and there is literally always something happening. That being said, it is also an INSANELY expensive city. When people told us that we'd be paying about 50% more than NYC, I didn't believe it.... But *oh* how I believe them now. When I think about the cost of rent on our tiny studio flat, a little bit of me dies inside. 

Because it is so expensive, we zealously pinch pennies so that we can travel. It doesn't leave much for enjoying all that London has to offer entertainment wise. Here are a few ways Jon and I have made the most of... well, nothing!

1) Be In the BBC Audience

It's no secret that tv stations will often recruit people to sit the audience for their shows, but the BBC is AMAZING when it comes to this, because BBC doesn't just do tv, they also record a lot of music (most for radio but also for televised concert productions). If you check their Be In The Audience page regularly, you can often find a great show to attend. I generally just look for the orchestral recordings, but their are some great live tv programs you can also attend. The other day, my friends at work got tickets to a comedy show and Jon and I just got tickets for symphony, and the best part is, it was free!

[Please note: When you sign up, BBC will email you the tickets, but that doesn't guarantee you a seat. You still have to arrive a little early, as they send out more tickets than they have room for to ensure a packed house.]

2) Evensong

If you've tried going to one of the large cathedrals here in London, during the week, you'll know that they charge you an arm, a leg, and probably your first born child just to walk in the door (except for Westminster Abbey, which lets you in free if you have a CitySave card). The fabulous loophole is that worship services are always free, and they aren't just on Sundays (though Sunday is a lovely time to go).

I don't think their are words enough in the English language to convey the caliber of the choirs in some of these cathedrals. Going to Choral Evensong (Evening Prayer) services have been among the most beautiful, transcendent experiences I've had-- in my LIFE! I highly recommend attending. There are few musical experiences that I think can compare. 

Here are the times of some of my favourite services:

Mon-Sat 5:00pm-5:45, Sun 3:15pm-4:00pm

Check website link above as there are several different types of Choral services, depending on the date. 

Sundays 5:30pm

Other churches worth checking out (I've not attended services at any of these, though I imagine they are lovely):

3) Twitter

One of the few things I really find twitter to be great for is finding tickets. Just type in key words like "London Free Ticket" or "Events Free Soho" and you usually get several solid hits. These are mainly for gallery openings, fashion shows, or conferences, but I've seen other shows as well. Definitely a place to check if your looking for freebies. 

4) Volunteer

Working and volunteering with non-profits, does require a little extra work, but it seriously pays off-- not just in feeling good because you are helping people, but also because you often get invited to cool events and places for free.

Jon and I have done this several times, and it always ends up being fabulous. Last Christmas, we helped at an event where all we had to do was serve mince pies and we got to sit in the second row of an amazing celebrity studded concert. It was fab.

5) Write Your MP

This one is probably the best piece of advice I have to share today. 

Did you know there are places you can go in London, like up inside of Big Ben or a secret Key Ceremony at the Tower of London for FREE???! All you have to do is write your MP (for my non-British readers, this is basically like writing to your Congressman), ask for permission, and go through the (often painfully long and bureaucratic) process of getting a ticket.

Jon and I finally managed to get tickets for Big Ben (technically the Elizabeth Tower, as Big Ben is just the bell inside the tower) for May, but it did take three months to finally get a date settled. Hopefully others will not find this as I had the unfortunate timing of dealing with a new parliament coming in, which probably doubled the amount of time it took.

The only caveat to this (at least for Big Ben, not sure about Tower of London) is that you have to actually live here. No tourists on this one I'm afraid. 

Hopefully, these ideas have been helpful for you! If you have any other ideas, please do share in the comments. I'd love to hear any crazy or creative ways people are having fun for free!

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