With 24% of the population being students, and floods of tourists, Oxford can feel like a vibrant place with plenty to do, but that doesn't necessarily make it feel like somewhere interesting for a teenager. If you are living in Oxford, visiting for a summer school or a day, you might want to find ways to enjoy yourself that aren't the usual tourist or student experience. Here are just three suggestions.
Prices vary by the kind of skate you want to do, but membership deals are available to help keep the costs more reasonable. It's right opposite Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, so if you're a student there, this is a great place to roll into after college is over for the day.
The entrance is down the side of the building, which isn't immediately obvious. There isn't great parking, but it's convenient for the buses and train alike. There are several cafes and pubs a short distance away for a post-skate (soft drink) relax!
Oxford boasts not one but two independent art house cinemas, which both offer a great night out, and are very different to each other. Over in Jericho, the Phoenix has two screens and a bar. Set in the midst of lots of cafes and bars, there's somewhere to grab supper before heading in for an evening out of the cold dark gloomth which seems to envelope Oxford in winter.
Tickets are reasonably expensive (around £9.50 for adults), but membership deals will bring the cost down a bit, if you fancy going regularly.
On the other side of town, the Ultimate Picture Palace functions on a much more low-key basis. You buy a cloakroom ticket style stub from a little booth outside, before heading into the building's single hall space. There's a bar in the left hand corner which sells alcohol, but also a great range of hot and cold soft drinks, and even homemade cake. You can take your snack to your (comfortable) seat and settle down to the viewing, knowing that everyone in the building is there for the same time and show. 108 seats, no adverts, and a glorious art deco environment - this is what cinema was supposed to be like. Prices vary, but are all £8 or less, which offers good value for money.
Membership offers you two free tickets for the year, and a discount on further shows, as well as a weekly email giving you film timings for the week. They show a good range of popular and art house films, so you can guarantee a good cinematic education. Located in the fun Cowley Road area, there are plenty of places to eat, drink or dance before and after a film.
Skating in the park
Off Iffley Road, down Jackdaw Lane and onto Meadow Lane is a green space and children's park. A lone table tennis table suggests that the local council has tried to cater for teenagers, and failed.
Look harder though, and in the back corner you'll find a skate park. I was expecting the usual simple curved ramp, and was blown away by how much is on offer. An Italian teenager I spoke to said he'd never seen anything like it. A whole urban landscape of ramps and obstacles has been set up in a defined area.
Known as the Oxford Wheels Project, this skate park has attracted funding from a wide range of courses, making it an awesome resource for teenagers in Oxford. Graffiti is allowed, within limits. Lessons help you build up confidence and skills.
Arguably the best park of its kind in the country, the present ramps have been open since May 2013, and it's worth visiting to watch the amazing escapades, even if you're not interested in skating yourself. You never know what you might learn (or who you might meet)!