how to get cheap theatre tickets in London

After realising that my most read article has been a how-to piece, and shockingly not my bitchy post about Spain, I figured I should probably write more useful stuff about my time in London.

One of my favourite things here has been the absolute multitude of shows. There’s no waiting around for six months for a decent play to open up, only to then to have crappy tickets be ridiculously expensive. Here you can go to the theatre almost every night of the week, and despite what you may think of London prices, it doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune to do so.

I’ve been to more plays in this past year and a half than I have in my entire life, and I grew up in a town where musical theatre was the main form of entertainment. Plus for a film and TV nerd like myself, it’s also given me a chance to see some of my favourite actors and actresses live on stage – including the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Wanamaker, Anthony Head, Matt Smith and Derek Jacoby, just to name a few.

So what’s the deal with cheap theatre tickets then? Basically the cheapest you’ll get to most shows will be between £15-25. Keep in mind these seats are cheap for a reason, and there will usually be a slight view impairment or be quite high up, so you need to be quite relaxed about your seating requirements.

Here’s some tips:

  • Go during the week. Usually Tuesday or Wednesday nights will have more cheap options than Fridays and weekends. Same goes for matinees.
  • If you go on your own the chances of getting a seat upgrade are pretty high – it’s happened to me about 30% of the times I’ve been to a show.
  • Shop around. Some of the discount websites are great, but often going direct to the theatre’s website will score you cheaper seats.
  • Be flexible. Some websites will offer no booking fee if you book several months in advance, and the odds of finding cheaper seats are higher if you are happy to wait a little bit longer.
  • Sign up to theatre newsletters. Some do special weekly offers, for example the Donmar Warehouse offers a limited amount of £10 front row tickets every Monday; and if you want to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child they release 40 tickets every Friday at lunchtime here.
  • Embrace smaller venues. Places like The Vaults Theatre under Waterloo station, and the King’s Head Theatre, as well as many others, will often have great up and coming productions at more affordable prices (however lacking the A-listers).

Some of my favourite websites are:

  • Love Theatre – this is my first go to for shows I want, definitely sign up to their newsletter. They will have about 90% of the shows on in London on their website, so it’s a great way to gauge prices before you book anything.
  • National Theatre – probably the most well known collection of theatres in London. They do a £15 front row special for most of their bigger shows.
  • Time Out – this is a no-brainer for last minute deals to pretty much anything.
  • Shakespeare’s Globe – £5 groundling tickets? Done. Just make sure you find a spot against the stage because standing in the sun for three hours gets old fast.

I’ve never used the ticket stands in Leicester Square, so I can’t vouch for any of them, but always check the prices online before you use any of the stalls. Also if all else fails try the box office or returns line at a sold out show for last minute tickets.

Good luck!







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