Cheap entertainment, cheap food, free restaurant meals and special, one-off deals are all available to anyone who knows where to look. Budget cuts may be biting, but there are still lots of ways of having fun for less. You don’t need to stop living and enjoying life – just check out our list of the best ways to have fun for less money and the best entertainment you can provide without spending anything at all!
- City fun
- Themed breaks
- Spa treats and getaways
- Music, theatre and film
- Something for the kids
- Outdoor fun
- Home entertainment
- Fun to be had absolutely free!
As the price of travelling to work in any major city keeps rising, there’s usually little money left for a good time after clocking out. That’s where we come in.
For the truly bargain-savvy city goers there’s Groupon.co.uk. A brilliant site that ferrets out all the best possible deals for you on a daily basis in the city you live or work in. Go to Groupon.co.uk where you can register and choose your most-visited city to get vouchers for fabulous deals across your location.
Reductions are anything from 50% to up to 90% off, where a spa day or hotel room worth £75 can be offered with Groupon.co.uk for less than £10! The system works by inviting Groupon.co.uk members to purchase the deal of the day, and once enough people sign up for the offer it goes ahead. If too few people sign up, the deal doesn’t go ahead and no one loses any money. Groupon.co.uk offers unbeatable hotel rates and holiday excursions; even prescription glasses discounts and photo development for less. Dining out in the city can be guaranteed if you get friends involved registering on the site, so make the most of the nearby cafes and restaurants by keeping an eye out for new offers.
Also online is OpenTable for restaurant bargains. Here you can earn reward points by registering and after booking 10 times get one meal absolutely free! 5pm.co.uk works on the same points system, so there’s plenty of choice for a great working lunch. Also try Lastminute.com where you’ll find all kinds of dinner-and-show deals to suit your budget.
Got a secret passion for motor racing, mountain biking or deep sea diving? Do you need an extreme break to keep you going through the winter? There are plenty of offers to get an active break if you know where to look. Be a real daredevil and try Virgin Experience Days for a breath of fresh air. You can abseil, bungee jump or skydive and there are often great discounts.
Red Letter Days is also great for unforgettable experiences and they always have a selection of special offers. They have everything from afternoon tea and spa days to falconry and hot air ballooning.
- Learn to sail by joining a local sailing club like Aquarius Sailing Club. An annual membership costs just £55.
- Go rock climbing! Climbing is one of the UK’s fastest-growing sports, and you can start at any age or level. Centres in Nottingham and Bristol have the best reputation for great teaching.
- Go Paintballing! If you really need to let go of your frustrations at work, what about paintball in a group with those from the office? The Paintball Guide UK has a really comprehensive list of paintball venues. You can find the prices on the site before you book.
Groupon.co.uk also regularly has experience day vouchers. For example, in the past they have offered £12.50 instead of £66 for a whole year’s access to the Streetcar fleet and £8 for £20 worth of food at Rodizio Preto Brazilian restaurants in London.
Pampering and calm luxury more your sort of thing? Treat yourself to a day at a health spa with Lastminute.com and Groupon.co.uk, which will always find a great deal on a spa day or treatment centre near you.
If your budget won’t allow for any spending at all, you can receive bath-time luxuries by racking up Boots Advantage Card points if you shop at Treat Street. Waterstones.com and the Apple store among many others can help you collect Boots points, so get a treat back from your shopping by checking online first.
If one day isn’t enough then stay in a hotel to get away from it all. Laterooms.com has some fantastic deals where you can save up to 70% off B&Bs, hotels and even castles!
Get a free holiday by swapping your house for somebody else’s for a clean break from the daily grind. House-swapping sites such as HomeExchange.com and HomeForExchange.com are two of the best. You can select a destination and read through each house owner’s offers and descriptions on their facilities and accommodation. A brilliant getaway deal as no money is exchanged!
Enjoy a tastier takeaway from a local chef with Housebites.com. This site allows you to order fast food made by an experienced passionate cook near you – it’s great value and the quality will be much higher than at your local kebab shop. Or perhaps you’re a dab hand in the kitchen yourself and you’d like to sell your culinary creations? Then check out Housebites.com where you can register as one of their chefs. You’ll need a food hygiene certificate, but Housebites.com can help you get one.
The best of all UK freebies and deals are listed on Free-events.co.uk, which includes free festivals, parades and carnivals. If you have a small spending allowance and love music or theatre, Groupon.co.uk will have unmissable offers on great shows across all major cities.
Sign up to See Film First and you may get the chance to view films for free even before they are released. Momentum Pictures and Freecinematickets also offer preview screenings. You can save money on cinema tickets by keeping track of Vue cinema offers, such as 2-for-1 Orange Wednesdays, Super Saver Tuesday and Kids AM (tickets from only £1.75 for under 13s on weekend mornings).
For concert tickets, Seatwave.com lets you browse through any region and artist before you book. So you can check how many tickets are available for each concert and always be sure of a great deal. Music fanatics can make the most of free gigs with AllGigs.co.uk, where there’s also an under £10 and under £5 section. Sites such as ClashMusic and NME’s music news section provide updates on free gigs and discounts for students.
Sign up to work for Oxfam.org.uk and you can look forward to great entertainment with all the latest bands in a summer of free music festivals. Registering to work requires you to place a security deposit but you claim it back on arrival. Oxfam.org.uk workers work shift hours through each festival but you are given free access to the concerts.
Lastminute.com and Groupon.co.uk offer deals on central London’s most famous playhouses, so there’s an opportunity for everyone to spend a glamorous night out.
If you have kids in tow, a day of rollercoaster rides and ghost trains will satisfy their need for adventure and it’s a is a great way to get some fun for the family without spending too much. You can get an independent guide to all the best UK theme parks here. Also Lastminute.com include great offers for Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and zoo visits across Britain. Remember that you can use your supermarket loyalty points from Tesco.com and Sainsbury’s.co.uk plus Avios to get great offers on theme park tickets.
Kids.co.uk has a great range of free activities to keep kids of all ages busy before the new school term starts.
Does your child have a Blue Peter badge? They can get one by sending in pictures and stories to Blue Peter and, with the badge, kids can get free and discounted access to over 200 attractions in the UK! If you’re stuck indoors get sending those pictures!
Go to the CBeebies website and you can download lots of free pictures featuring popular characters to print off for colouring in on a rainy day.
Visit English Heritage to find your nearest event. It’s great for ideas to see listed buildings and the treasured smaller museums of our countryside. You might be able to visit Sir John Soane’s museum in London, Charleston House in Sussex or even Hampton Court Palace for less, so take a look.
Go for a walk. Never underestimate the glorious feeling of a long walk in the countryside, or even through the parks of central London. Walking gives you time to think and time for yourself and your body all at once. Great exercise and no public transport to aggravate your pockets! Countryside walks can be found in a range of popular literature on the subject, the newest of which are Perfect Days Out, and Great British Walks, both from the Countryfile team at the BBC.
If you’re on the Isle of Wight there’s Tennyson walk where a trek up the cliff-top rewards you with a breathtaking view, reported as the spot where Tennyson wrote In Memoriam.
If you live in London and fancy exploring a different side to the capital try one of the innovative audio guides from Soundmap which are narrated by local experts and feature music, history and interviews.
Best British Beaches lists all the best away days in Britain, and some beaches are not just recommended for the summer months. Beaches have a wealth of things to discover and learn for children, Take along a local tourist guidebook for the town and you will be bound to see beautiful ruins or cliff faces steeped in British history.
A potluck supper is a dinner party at your house for those on a budget. Each guest brings along a dish to contribute to the dinner. It’s a great way to share time with friends and talk without the pressure of giving a full dinner party on your own, and a whole lot more economical!
Swap shop parties
Clothes exchanging is back in fashion in the credit squeeze! Most of us have loads of items we never seem to wear, so why not hold a party where you can swap them for a friend’s unwanted clothing? Swap shops can be clothes, books, children’s toys, outgrown baby paraphernalia – whatever you want!
Head to Read It Swap It, where you can get free books by swapping the ones you’ve already read with other second-hand books. When you finish a book you can register it with Read It Swap It and others can request to swap. You then search through a library of books online to choose the one you want to exchange yours for. A brilliant way to share costs if you don’t fancy the local library.
Get paid to party
With The Body Shop at Home you can get pampering at home for free by hosting a products party at your house. A representative will turn up at your house to give products that need to be bought and tested, so invite your friends round for a massage and makeover party for a bit of low-cost fun at home.
For fun nights in with friends plus a great way to make money, become an Ann Summers party planner – you could earn over £2,750 in just three months by hosting three parties a week.
Go to the BBC website and apply for free tickets to your favourite TV shows. You can get tour, live event, game show, chat show and discussion programme tickets. Lost In TV includes programmes from other networks such as The Cube and the Paul O’Grady show. Add yourself to the mailing list for ApplauseStore for shows like The X Factor and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. It’s a great way to have a day out and see how a live TV programme is broadcast.
Other sites include SRO Audiences and TVRecordings.
Museums and Galleries
Don’t forget that some of this country’s most beautiful and treasured places and possessions can all be viewed and enjoyed for free in each city’s national collections and the many free art galleries of Britain. Visit Britain list all the major galleries and their entry prices, however most are free, or free for students,children and concessions. The best thing about museums and great art is that you can spend limitless, peaceful and free time in front of whatever collection takes your fancy.
You can learn everything there is to know about the progression of modern science in London’s Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert, all of which sit in walking distance from each other in London. Also free in London are modern collections at the Tate and the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
The National Portrait galleries of London and Scotland hold collections of faces from all times in modern history, so even if you only like popular music, football heroes and modern icons there’s something to be seen.