A guide to cheap deals for students in Glasgow and Edinburgh
A quick guide on where to go for cheap films, music, travel, tech and more
The upsurge in movie piracy has led to a cinema industry eager to please punters, which is good news for you lot. Edinburgh’s Cameo and Filmhouse cinemas and Glasgow Film Theatre all offer membership deals, which offer discount ticket prices as well as various additional perks (priority booking, special screenings, etc). The multiplexes have their own equivalents – Vue cinemas give you money-off coupons with every ticket you buy, while Cineworld offers unlimited movies for £14.99 a month with their Unlimited Card. If you don’t have an Orange phone, it’s well worth splashing out on a bog-standard pay-as-you-go handset – buddy up with an Unlimited Cardholder on Orange Wednesdays and you both get in free.
Even with these discounts, it can still be expensive to visit the cinema too often, so it’s worth checking out some of the online services available. Netflix.com and Lovefilm.com are the two biggies – we’d recommend the former for their wide range of streaming TV boxsets, and the latter for their extensive DVD film selection. Keep an eye out for smaller online operations as well – Blinkbox.com, for example, has a decent selection of free-to-view movies alongside its pay-per-view content, and YouTube have recently added a similar equivalent (youtube.com/movies).
Putting a neat spin on it, Mubi.com offer a selection of curated, streamed thematically-linked ‘film festivals’; they also offer a forum for aspiring filmmakers to share and contribute to each others’ projects. Most of these sites have a free trial period, so you can always enjoy a week or two of freebies before opting out.
Both Edinburgh and Glasgow have a fine network of bars, clubs and straight-out venues that allow music-lovers to indulge their ears on the cheap. In G-Town, Bloc hosts frequent gigs that are free before midnight and only £2 after; they also run Blochestra, an all-embracing orchestra-of-the-people that practises every Monday. The 13th Note and Stairway lean towards the rockier end of the musical spectrum, with tickets typically priced at £4 and £5-£6 respectively. Nice’n’Sleazy tastes span the breadth of rock and electronica genres for about £5 a pop, with the odd open mic night thrown in for free. For something a bit more unusual, try Tchai-Ovna, where the fee for a variety of world, folk, jazz, blues and spoken word events is usually a suggested donation of £2.
Edinburgh’s Bloc equivalent is Whistlebinkies, which offers free entry Sunday-Thursday and pre-midnight on Friday & Saturday, and showcases 4-6 bands a night. Henry’s Cellar Bar and Bannerman’s favour rock, punk and metal acts, and typically put on multi-band bills for £4-£5 a ticket. Wee Red Bar at the art college (non-art students are allowed in too) works in the same price range of £4-£5, and does a nice line in indie, electronica, folk and art-rock, as you might expect.
Finally, Sneaky Pete’s is possibly the finest small venue in the city – gig tickets usually cost £5-£6, although these occasionally jump up a few quid when slightly larger touring acts swing through.
Stop smirking, you mucky pups – this is not a guide to inexpensive sexytime. Rather, some handy tips and tricks to getting around your new home town. For example, did you know that both First and Lothian Buses offer four-week student travel passes for £38 and £40 respectively? Or that you can register as a student with CityLink to get 20% off longer journeys? Handy, eh?
Another option is to make an early investment and get a bike to transport yourself around town. They’re reasonably cheap if you buy from second-hand shops (or departing graduates) and, unlike buses, you don’t have to wait around for them and they’ll drop you at your door. The Bike Station and Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op are good ports of call if you fancy getting a brand new set of wheels, or if you just need a tune-up or advice. Trainwise, a First Scotrail 16–25 Railcard costs £28 for a year, and gets you a third off all ticket prices. It’s also worth remembering that, if you’re travelling in a party of three or four people, there are Group tickets available to split the cost between you.
Finally, if you really must get a taxi after a night out (which is expensive, so you’ll probably want to avoid doing it too often), it’s cheaper to phone ahead and avoid automatic charges. Remember to use your common sense: only ever hail a licensed taxi with a clearly numbered licence plate, and make sure you driver has a visible ID tag.
Universities have come a long way from pens and notepads, with styluses and iPads just as common an occurrence in the lecture theatre. Unfortunately, owning the right tech nowadays can be an expensive necessity for students. This means that while shopping around for the best deal may take a bit more time, your wallet will thank you for it. Trade and exchange shops such as Cash Converters and CEX can be a great place to pick up a bargain piece of kit, just make sure you know that it works before you leave the shop. As most savvy shoppers know, however, the best value for money is usually found online. Sites like Gumtree offer some great tech going cheap, and you can usually pick up a TV or microwave at no cost at all from Freecycle, as long as you can collect it. Specifically for students, Studentphones.co.uk sells exactly what you’d expect, as well as giving great general advice on the best tariffs, broadband providers and whatnot. Wealthystudent.co.uk takes a long view, giving you deals and vouchers to help you out in the meantime, while providing perspective on savings and post-graduation employment. Finally, don’t forget that your beloved student discount also usually applies to software, with providers like Microsoft and official partners like Software4students.co.uk offering packages at knocked-down prices. Apple also offer discounts to students in participating colleges and universities on Macbooks and iPads, although it’s best to double check the Apple website to see if you qualify.
Cheap Theatre and Comedy
The good news is that Edinburgh and Glasgow are hives of cultural activity, with live theatre and comedy hosting big names and new talent every day. The really good news is that it doesn’t have to cost the earth to take in a show, especially not for students, who can take advantage of concession and discount tickets.
Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre showcases a packed programme and offers preview tickets for £7.50, as well as offering concessions for students on full-price shows. If exciting new talent is what you fancy then Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre have tickets for as little as £6. The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow also offers early-bird tickets for the tiny price of 50p from 10am on the morning of selected performances. As well as this, Tuesdays are cheap at the Citz, with all tickets only £12. For details of how selected performances are affected by these offers, head to the your selected theatre’s individual website.
For opera fans, Scottish Opera offers under 26s tickets for just £10. These tickets are available from the box office of Scottish Opera’s host theatres, the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh and the Theatre Royal in Glasgow. If bargain comedy is what you’re after, then Red Raw at The Stand costs just £2 a ticket. Hosted every Monday in Edinburgh and every Tuesday in Glasgow, the night introduces the rising stars of comedy and, if you’re lucky, established acts might turn up to try out new material, so it’s definitely worth a visit.