As free sports and music events are announced as part of London's summer celebrations, adventure company director offers visitors some fun, budget-conscious ideas

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From expensive Olympic mascots to Jubilee weekend hotels, London – and much of the rest of the UK – is not looking like being a cheap holiday destination this summer. But, according to Steve Clark, director of UK adventure company Experience Mad, it doesn’t have to be a complete budget buster either

Mad Hatter's Tea at The Sanderson Hotel, London

The London Live Events announced comprise weeks of free music concerts, opportunities to try out different sports, large screens for watching Olympic events and, in Victoria Park, a 55-metere high observation wheel.

As BT London Live announce a programme of free sporting and music events in the capital’s parks, he looks at the options for those feeling enterprising – or adventurous.

“Like in many capital cities, you pay a premium for luxury or quality in London,” said Steve. “But the news that many average chain hotels were upping their prices by more than £200 a night during the Olympic period was met with resignation by people who are increasingly used to paying through the nose for mediocre service or quality. I want to prove to visitors that it doesn’t have to be this way – there are places to eat and sleep, and plenty of fun days out for adults, children and families, that won’t cost you your life savings.”

One woman made the headlines for offering up to eight Olympic fans a bed in a tent in her London garden (for a reasonable $24 a night, including breakfast) – and she is not the only one. Services such as Camp in my Garden, in which locals offer up their gardens as micro-campsites, are anticipating a busy July. There will also be five temporary, serviced, Camping and Caravanning Club campsites in Lee Valley, Romford, Gravesham and Windsor Great Park. And for those looking for something really unique, Experience Mad offers one- or two-night breaks in a converted London black cab!

With accommodation covered, entertainment, food and drink are next on the list. Brits love nothing more than a good cup of tea, so much so that afternoon tea is something of an art in many establishments. The Mad Hatter’s Tea at the 5* Sanderson hotel is an Alice in Wonderland themed gastronomic delight, but many places offer more traditional scones, jam and cream for a fraction of the price. “Afternoon tea is an incredibly popular day gift at, partly because we offer them at so many locations,” said Steve. Fancy relaxing on a Thames boat cruise? Want to refresh yourself after a hard morning’s shopping in Harrods? They complement many visitor attractions and offer a little slice of luxury without the big price tag usually attached to hotels and restaurants.”

That just leaves cheap entertainment, which is in plentiful supply in London. Entry to many of the city’s big museums and art galleries is free and, weather permitting, central London is an excellent place to explore on foot. Steve said: “The London Live events announced comprise weeks of free music concerts, opportunities to try out different sports, large screens for watching Olympic events and, in Victoria Park, a 55-metre high observation wheel. If you have kids, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. I also really rate classic markets such as Portobello, Borough and Colombia Road, which are perfect for browsers and foodies. Others, like the ones in Petticoat Lane, offer visitors a different, grittier side to London and these should not be missed either.”

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