The West End! Oliver! Mamma Mia! The Lion King! What’s not to love?
Oh yeah – the prices. Especially those in London as the pound is quite up there on the currency exchange chart.
Tickets to some of the top shows can be enough to break a backpacker’s budget for the country before she’s even begun.
Fear not, however, as we have some top tips to make sure you can get the best prices possible in London. The show shall go on!
Rock the Student Card
Student discounts can go a long way. Bring your school’s official ID, or invest in an International Student Identity Card, which are universally accepted.
Standing for Shakespeare
See Shakespeare as the Elizabethans did – by standing in the Globe Theatre’s yard. Each performance sells 700 standing tickets for just £5 a pop.
London-based actress Angharad Price recommends signing up for the National Theatre Entry Pass. A free scheme for anyone aged 16-25, membership means that you can buy tickets for any National Theatre production for £5, bring a friend for £7.50 and enjoy a 10% discount in the National Theatre bookshop, restaurant and bar to boot!
If you’re over 25, don’t sweat it – Travelex has joined forces with the National Theatre to put on Travelex £15 shows – simply register online then buy your cheap tickets for the shows highlighted.
Don’t Forget your Passport
If you’ve got your heart set on a big show, the London Theatre Passport might be the way to go. For £25, you can enjoy a significant discount (often up to 50%) on a performance of your choice from a list of current West End shows.
Often the ticket prices listed on the theatre website itself won’t be the only ones out there, so do some internet sleuthing. Check out and compare prices on various theatre sites – Viator in particular operate a low price promise, meaning that theoretically at least, the prices there should be the cheapest about. Check out the special offers on Official London Theatre for impressive low prices and discounts. And don’t forget that meal and hotel packages can sometimes offer the best value of all, taking into account the entire evening.
Head to Leicester Square
There you’ll find TKTS, the city’s official discount theatre ticket shop. Originally opened as the Half Price Ticket Booth 1908, and operated by the Society of London Theatre on behalf of the industry, here you can buy tickets at up to half of their original price, both on the day and up to a week in advance.
The Royal Court Theatre in Chelsea’s fancy Sloane Square is surprisingly purse-friendly. They offer four standing tickets for each performance for a bargain 10p for those willing to arrive at the show one hour early and try their chances; run £10 Mondays, with half of the tickets going on sale in advance and the other half being released at 9am on the day of the show; and £8 tickets for patrons under 26.
Take your Chances
If you haven’t booked any shows in advance, don’t sweat it – you can still try your luck on the door. Some theatres (the National Theatre among them) keep tickets back until the day itself, while a limited number of returned tickets often become available around 90 minutes before a show begins. Ask the theatre beforehand how likely this is before trekking to the box office though.
Time it Right
Certain times of the year will mean budget-friendly theatre in abundance – the Get Into London Theatre annual promotion, for example, sees the release of thousands of £10 seats, Kid’s Week means children can enjoy West End shows for free for a fortnight, and LIFT brings the stage out into the streets.
If you have any more London theatre tips or show recommendation, please share them below.