Cheap things to do in Nottingham: Arts, Culture and Literature

A picture of the art gallery Nottingham Contemporary
Lydia Copson

The cost-of-living crisis has launched many of us into a place of minimal room for leisure or luxuries, but luckily there are lots of cheap (or free!) ways to experience art, culture and literature around Nottingham. So, if you’re interested in art exhibitions, films, music, theatre, nature, or history, this is the place to be. 

Nottingham Contemporary 

Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm

Sunday 11am-5pm 

Accessibility – lift access, ear defenders, overlays, magnifiers, hearing loops, communication cards, easy read versions and translations of exhibition notes, guide dogs and hearing dogs welcomed, portable stools available, wheelchair available. 

The Nottingham Contemporary is an impressive art gallery which features a fantastic range of exhibitions, events and learning programmes, most of which are free! These experiences often centre around themes of contemporary issues in society, with an aim to spur conversation, thought and reflection about what truly matters. The vision of the gallery is to bring people together through art, culture and education, promoting values of openness, hopefulness and resourcefulness, with an ultimate focus on diversity and accessibility within the arts. The Nottingham Contemporary has many exhibitions running currently, or starting shortly, that reflect such values. 

A great place to visit if you wish to see beautiful exhibitions

For example, Abbas Zahedi: Holding a Heart in Artifice, is an upcoming free exhibition surrounding ideas of the philosophy of care and grief, how important support systems are, and how art and the public are interconnected by such support systems. To encourage these ideas, Zahedi, alongside medical professionals, will also look at the experiences and effects of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) treatment on its patients. 

Fancy attending a free session focused on literature? Khaya Job is a local artist and founder of Femme Fatale Gals, an empowering annual magazine which highlights issues surrounding mental health, race and feminism. She will be hosting 1525: Food for thought, a reading session on excerpts of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, aimed at 15-25-year-olds. Discussions will surround cultivating curiosity and overcoming fears, and how this can lead to living life creatively. Texts will be available, and snacks too! The environment will be relaxed, sociable and welcoming, and a great place to make friends with the same interests as you. 

As a registered artistic and educational charity, the Nottingham Contemporary is therefore a great place to visit if you wish to see beautiful exhibitions, expand your mind, and engage in the most vital of discussions. 

Lakeside Arts

Lakeside Arts is the University of Nottingham’s public art programme. They host shows, exhibitions and workshops. Luckily for us, they have student pricing available! For most of their live shows, there will be a limited number of £5 student tickets available to purchase in advance. Don’t worry if you miss them – 2 and a 1/2 hours before the show, there are also £5 tickets available at the door for any unsold seats, also available to purchase over the phone (0115 846 7777). 


If you fancy something a bit more hands-on, there are also experiences such as SÉANCE, a live session with a medium, who will be looking into the psychology of a group of people- this one isn’t for the faint-hearted! £5 student tickets are available.

Wollaton Hall & Deer Park

  • Hall & Museum opening times: 11am-4pm
  • Accessibility: induction loop access, assistance dogs welcome, lift access, wheelchair-accessible cafés, autism-friendly sessions. Click here for more information!

Wollaton Hall & Deer Park is definitely worth a visit for its beautiful greenery, architecture and resident deer. There are 500 acres of parkland to explore, including a picturesque lake, which is perfect for spotting birds such as jay, sparrowhawk, nuthatch and ring-necked parakeets. There are over 200 wild deer roaming the grounds year-round, a truly breathtaking sight against the stunning woodland areas they reside in. 

Full of gorgeous sights

Wollaton Hall, an Elizabethan, Grade I listed building, is open to the public for free, featuring Natural History Collections, the Bird, Fish room and The Long Gallery, The Great Hall and Salon. The Natural History Museum, located within Wollaton Hall, has a vast array of remarkable items, including fossils, ‘spirit-animals’, and taxidermy – amongst 750,000 pieces! Batman fanatics might recognise Wollaton Hall from the 2012 film ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, as it was portrayed in the film as ‘Wayne Manor’, Batman’s family mansion. 

So, if you fancy a lovely walk, full of gorgeous sights, wandering wildlife, and the chance to dive into some history and culture (for free!), Wollaton Hall & Deer Park is perfect for you. 

Savoy Cinemas

  • Showtimes 
  • Accessibility: Screens 2, 3 & 4 have a designated wheelchair bay, assistance dogs welcome in all screens. 

If you’re a fan of the silver screen, you may be interested in the Savoy Cinema’s student tickets, priced at £5! The Savoy Cinema in Lenton, Nottingham has lots of history, having first opened in November 1935. It boasts an art-deco design and curved front, thanks to architect Reginald Cooper, and so is a real cultural gem. Inside, some screens (2, 3 &4) feature old-fashioned red seats, guaranteed to put a vintage twist on your visit. 

The Savoy also screen theatre, ballet and opera productions, with both live and pre-recorded options available, so if you can’t make a live production but really want to see it, you have got to check these screenings out! Feature-length documentaries covering arts, music and sport are also shown, meaning there really is something for everybody to enjoy. Student concessions are available on these screenings too, but may be a little more expensive than the general film screenings. 

Lydia Copson

Featured image courtesy of Martyn Cooling via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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