Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
Welcome to the third edition of Entertainment Magpie. In this blog we are focusing on the Autumn.
The Summer Holidays are over and Christmas is on the horizon. In between there’s half-term and Halloween. There are deals for those of you who like to get out and about dressed as a cute cat, an oversized pumpkin or a character from Five Nights at Freddy’s.
There’s also a round up and reminder of how to get to the cinema and the theatre on the cheap, as well as how to see your favourite TV shows being filmed. Lastly, we’ve included a section for those who prefer cosy time on the sofa (in full head to toe Halloween costumes, if that’s your thing).
In the last edition of Entertainment Magpie, we featured a selection of some of the amazing 2 for 1 days out you can have when you travel by train. If you click here you’ll see that these deals are still on. Perfect for getting out about all over the country over half-term. From The Royal Pavilion in Brighton all the way up the Loch Lomond Aquarium, there really is something for everyone. Remember booking is essential.
From 1st to 31st October Legoland is hosting the ultimate Family Halloween Party! Brick or Treat offers live shows, fantastic decorations and lots of monsters.
If you book in advance online you can save up to £30 off the price of an ‘on the day ticket’. For comparison, an average mid week day ticket costs £62, online it’s listed as £32. Legoland also accepts Tesco Clubcard vouchers.
Alton Towers Scarefest is on the 7th – 9th, 14th – 31st October 2022
The park will be open until 9pm during Scarefest so those of you who are brave enough can experience the rides in the dark. Other spooky treats include Wicker Man and the Alton Towers Dungeon.
Entry costs are from £42.00 per person in advance instead of the gate price of £65.00. You can also exchange your Tesco Clubcard vouchers for entry tickets which is good value for money.
Screamfest is on from 7th – 31st October 2022
For those of you with a stronger constitution, the National Forest Adventure Farm in Staffordshire is hosting Screamfest. Only for those aged 16 and above, Screamfest is sure to scare you silly with attractions called Insomnia, Hillbilly Joe’s Zombie Zoo and Love Hurts-Last Orders.
If screaming until you lose your voice is your idea of the perfect Halloween then tickets range from £14 (for which you can enjoy the atmosphere and the live entertainment, but not the scares) to £37 for fast track to all of the horror on offer.
If you want to get in over half-term or on Halloween itself then book now for discounted online tickets – saving you around £5 on the ticket price: BOOK EARLY
Northycote Farm in Wolverhampton is hosting a free Halloween Trail on Sunday October 30th. No need to book -just turn up – but there will be charity buckets around if you’d like to make a donation. There will also be a pumpkin carving competition. Dressing up is encouraged!
For something a bit different why not visit the Stourbridge Glass Museum on Saturday 22nd October to watch the pumpkins float on the mill pond at dusk. It really is a magical Halloween event and it’s completely free!
On Friday 28th October you can visit the Together Centre in Dukinfield for a spooky event. Entrance is free and families can enjoy trick or treat hunt, halloween crafts spooky games and much more.
We could all do with some entertainment right now, have a good giggle or get up close and personal with our pin ups (maybe not that close, you don’t want to get into trouble).
Studio places are always limited so get booking to avoid disappointment!
There are always deals to be found online to see West End Shows – here is a sample of what you could snap up and where:
Did you know that you can see the latest releases at your local cinema – for free? Free Movies UK is a not for profit organisation that works hard to getting members as many free cinema tickets as possible. It works as a forum based community where people share information, codes and swap tickets. There are no ads. No charges. And it’s really simple:
It’s always worth checking out any perks you might already have that came with your bank account or via your phone or broadband contract, for example. One of our team found they had 6 free Vue tickets with their Club Lloyds account that they’d forgotten about. (They had selected them as a perk in January!). It’s worth spending a bit of time going through your emails and seeing if you’ve missed or forgotten about any perks yourself…
Also, don’t forget that Tastecard* and Gourmet Society aren’t just for eating out! They can give you savings of up 40% on Vue, Showcase, Picturehouse, Odeon and Empire. Some independent cinemas are included in the deal too. Definitely worth checking out.
*You can get a Tastecard for free for 60 days and then it renews at £5.99 a month. Deals for eating out are usually 2 for 1 or 50% off food. Combine that with a trip to the cinema and you’re definitely going to make some massive savings!
Another great way to save on cinema tickets is to become a member. Most of us either have a cinema that we prefer (comfy seats are non-negotiable for some, others rate theirs according to the popcorn). Or there is a cinema that is closest or easiest to get to. Whichever it is, check out their membership deals:
Odeon’s membership schemes are called either myOdeon or myLimitless. Both give you savings on films, food and drink. MyOdeon is free and allows you to unlock Saver tickets but MyLimitless costs £14.99 a month. For that you’ll get money off all films and invites exclusive viewings. Check out the membership deals here.
Cineworld also offers unlimited cinema for around £9.99 a month (at some bigger cinemas, membership costs £15.99 a month). This allows you to see any film, any time, as many times as you like, as well as 10% off snacks and drinks. They are also currently offering a free tastecard which means you get even more money off deals included in the price.
Lastly, keep an eye on sites like Groupon. They regularly offer discounted cinema tickets. At the time of writing, they are offering 40% off Odeon tickets.
If Autumn for you means cosy nights in under a blanket, curtains closed and a warm drink in hand, then here a few ways to stay entertained for free.
Freeview isn’t new, but sometimes it helps to remember that it is a really good way to watch TV – a lot of TV – for FREE.
Freeview and FreeviewPlay give you access to over 40,000 hours of on demand entertainment for free. The platform has over 700 boxsets, around 70 standard channels, 15 HD channels and a good search function.
How to watch? Go to the website and it will take you through the steps you need to find out how to watch Freeview. Lots of TVs come with it preinstalled these days, but as long as you’ve got either a TV aerial or a wi-fi connection you should be good to go. Alternatively, you can download the app and also watch on your PC or laptop
If you’re like us, you’re beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of subscription services that are now available. It started with Netflix, then Amazon Prime, Disney+, Paramount, Hulu…. the list feels like it’s growing every day.
If you’re on a budget but can’t decide which service to choose, a great free website and app is JustWatch. On JustWatch you can search for your favourite movies and TV shows and find out where they are available. Ok, so it’s unlikely all of your faves will be on one channel or service, but you might find that the majority are on Hulu for example, so you’ll know not to waste your money on the others.
How often have you heard about a programme or film from a friend or read a review, but forgetten where to watch it? JustWatch can help! It will tell you where to go and even tell you where to find a film for free. It could be that Twister, that 90s classic, is available on Prime for £3.49 but actually it’s showing for free on Channel 5 in a week’s time.
Did you know that you can play games for free on the Netflix App? To get access you will need a subscription* but Netflix is branching out and offering more and different content.
At the moment they only offer 10 games but they say they want to build a library of games. There’s even a couple Stranger Things themed games!
To get to the games, open the app on your phone and scroll down the homepage. Look out for the row that’s dedicated to games. When you tap on the game you want to play, you’ll get some instructions, including a brief description of gameplay and a few screen shots.
*Talking of Netflix subscriptions, when was the last time you checked yours? Lots of us are paying unnecessarily for UHD and multiple screens. You can save £5 a month/£60 a year if you downgrade from the Premium to the Standard plan. And don’t forget, you can cancel your plan at any time if you feel you’re just not getting the use from it anymore.
Happy Autumn everyone. Whether a change in the weather makes you want to get out and kick leaves or leaves you wanting to hibernate, enjoy! We’ll back with more before Christmas.