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Cheap Things to Do in London This Summer

Cheap Things to Do in London This Summer main image

By Jenny Scott Russell – Local Leo

Being a student in London is intense, as you need to juggle university work, your social life and making the most of the amazing city on your doorstep. But thankfully, summer is here, meaning many students find themselves with a lot of free time on their hands. The opportunity to try new things in London are endless, from museums to carnivals, to park and lidos – no wonder it was rated the number one city for students in the QS Best Student Cities 2019 index.

However, there are some events and activities which I think students should prioritize while in London for the summer, to get a real feel for the city and what locals love to get up to in their free time. So, here are 10 cheap things to do in London this summer.

London Design Festival

The London Design Festival is an annual celebration of London’s creative industries, held to promote London as the design capital of the world. All over the city major installations are installed by designers and artists, special exhibitions open, projects, events and talks take place, the majority of which are completely free. This is a really awe-inspiring festival appealing to creatives and non-creatives alike. There is something for everyone and something everywhere to see.

Silent Disco at The Natural History Museum

Next in our look at cheap things to do in London this summer is a truly unique experience, partying under Hope, the enormous blue whale skeleton hanging from the roof of the Hintze Hall in the Natural History Museum. There are three music channels to choose from, with separate DJ’s competing to please the hundreds of people dancing. There’s also a full bar and super easy access to the night tube to continue your night after the disco closes at 1am. Tickets are cheap as chips at £22 per person.

The Serpentine Pavilion

Every year the Serpentine commissions a new pavilion and it’s a highly anticipated reveal with the likes of Frida Escobedo and Frank Gehry designing previous years. The structures are imaginative, pioneering and incredibly impressive, as are the other Serpentine Galleries. They present works across art, architecture, design, fashion and digital design with architecture at their core. The galleries are free and makes for an amazing, cultural day out in Hyde Park.

Notting Hill Carnival        

Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival, taking place every August bank holiday throughout West London (August 25/26 in 2019). The main party is centered around Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove and celebrates Caribbean culture and cultural diversity. It has an amazing and interesting history, the first event taking place in 1959. You can’t beat Notting Hill Carnival for a high intensity, fun filled bank holiday of partying.

Chihuly Nights at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a great place to visit all year round, but this summer they are holding Chihuly Nights, a chance to experience Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures illuminated at dusk. If you haven’t witnessed the American sculptures works before then this is a must. Tickets are £18 and the exhibition opens at 7.30pm. However, to make a real day of it, I recommend going earlier and exploring the botanical gardens too with over 50,000 plants and beautiful Victorian greenhouses to enjoy.

Hampstead Heath Ponds

It doesn’t get more British than this. There’s a long history of people swimming in Hampstead Heath ponds and sticking to tradition, the ladies and men’s ponds are still separated. However, there is now a mixed pond too so you can go with all of your friends! Hampstead Heath is one of London’s nicest parks and boasts a beautiful panoramic view over the city. Best of all, it only costs £2 to swim here and the ponds are open all summer.

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House

This open-air cinema, located in Somerset House Edmond J.Safra Fountain Courtyard, is London’s largest outdoor cinema. This year they're screening some cinema classics including The Matrix and Reservoir Dogs alongside DJ sets and BBQ’s every night. Ticket prices vary but you can get yourself some real bargains.

Open House London & Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

Every year, Open House London offers the opportunity for the public to step inside some of London’s most famous buildings which normally, you wouldn’t be able to enter. The list of buildings taking part this year hasn’t been released but last year some of the best included 10 Downing Street, St Paul’s Cathedral and The National Archives. It’s all free but some of the more popular events had to be pre-booked last year so you can expect to have to do the same in 2019.

Watch the Rugby World Cup in Boxpark

Last but not least in our look at cheap things to do in London in the summer, we have the Rugby World Cup. If you want to feel like a real local and get involved in proper British culture then you have to go to the pub to see a few games. My favorite place to watch big sporting events is Boxpark Shoreditch which is a popup food/drink hall. The vibe is young and relaxed, with indoor and outdoor seating, amazing food and big screens to enjoy the action on.

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Written by Jenny Scott Russell
The author of London-based travel blog LocalLeo.co.uk, Jenny travels the world while working full time in the UK fashion industry. She has a passion for vegan street food and outdoor sports and in 2015 moved to Austria on an Erasmus exchange. She has since graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Textile Design and has visited over 25 different countries.

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