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Dominic Cooper in promo for The Libertine, courtesy Official London Theatre

London on a Budget: Theatre Tickets

18 March 2016 Becca Johnson

London has some of the best theatres in the world (in our very valid opinion) but with so many fantastic shows to see, we’re always looking for ways to stretch our budget further. Here we bring you a list absolutely chockablock full of great tips and hints for saving money on theatre tickets!

25 And Under Tickets

If you’re lucky enough to still be aged 25 or under, a wealth of theatre can be experienced for less than the price of a double G&T. National Theatre Entry Pass offers seats for just £5, as does RSC Key. Young Barbican offers tickets for many plays for £10 and £15. Young Vic does £10 tickets for all plays, Royal Court has £12 tickets for matinees and previews, the Bush Theatre does £10 matinee and £12.50 evening tickets and the Tricycle provides £10 tickets to plays and £5 to workshops. Phew, with so much to choose from, the only downside is that you’re likely to spend your 26th birthday mourning the loss of your youthful ticket buying days!

 

Ticket Booths

The West End is dotted with ticket shops promising reduced prices for shows, however it's worth sticking to TKTS in Leicester Square, the official booth for Society of London Theatres. They provide tickets on the day of performance and a few days in advance, and you can often save 30-50% on top shows. The booth is open 10am-7pm Monday to Saturday, and it’s often best to arrive early to grab the real bargains. New tickets are added throughout the day, so it’s also worth checking back if nothing takes your fancy on the first visit.

 

Day Seats

If you don’t mind getting up early and standing outside, day seats are the way to get a great view for less. Many theatres will hold back from 10 to 30 seats, usually in the front row or stalls, to be sold from 10am on the day of performance.  The queues outside the box office tend to start from around 8:30 or 9:00am, although be prepared to arrive even earlier if it’s a very popular or sold out show. Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Hamlet at the Barbican famously had people arriving from 2am for one of the coveted £10 day seats! Theatres that offer them regularly include the Adelphi, Apollo Victoria, Gielgud, New London, Noel Coward, Phoenix, National Theatre, Barbican, Prince Edward and Wyndham’s, and it’s worth following #dayseats on Twitter to get up to date info.

 

Online Rush Tickets

Missed the booking window for a great show AND want to save money? Many theatres run schemes for people just like you! Donmar Warehouse sells their front row tickets 2 weeks in advance for £10 through the Barclay’s front row scheme. Royal Court offers their Monday seats for just £10 online on the day. Mondays are also a great deal with Jamie Lloyd Company at Trafalgar Studios, where all seats are sold for £15 a month ahead. National Theatre does Friday rush tickets every week, where they sell an allotment of £20 tickets for the next week’s shows.

 

Ticket Lotteries

If you’re feeling lucky, you may prefer to try one of the ticket lotteries to bag a great seat. The best is for the fiendishly popular Book of Mormon where 21 top priced tickets are available via a daily lottery two hours before curtain up. Aim to arrive by 5pm to submit your name, and remember to bring ID. If you’d rather not dash down to a theatre at 5pm, online ticket lotteries for a range of ever changing shows are also held through the Todaytix app, simply download and the app will remind you when entries open!

 

Restricted View

West End theatres, while beautiful, do tend to feature rather blocky Victorian architecture and oddly shaped auditoriums. However, the plus side is that any seat with a less than perfect view of the stage is sold for cheaper! These ‘restricted view’ seats tend to include those far back, off to one side, and anything behind a conductor’s stand, lighting desk or safety railing. It’s useful to go to the seat viewing site seatplan to check your view beforehand, but it’s usually worth it for the price!

 

Standing Tickets

Think having a seat is overrated? You can save loads by standing for a show. The absolute best place to experience this is at Shakespeare’s Globe, where all ‘groundling' tickets are just £5 and tend to give you the best view of the show (as well as the most authentic experience). The Royal Opera House is the best for a saving, where standing tickets can go for as little at £2 and £4! For a last minute bargain, Donmar Warehouse sells their row of standing tickets on the day of the performance for just £7.50.

 

Previews

All new shows tend to have previews, a test period for the actors to warm up and the director to make any changes. Of course, you’ll still get a top-notch performance, and you can usually get it at a discounted rate! Most West End theatres take at least £10 off the ticket prices during previews, the Young Vic and Soho Theatre have great rates for the first few shows and the Old Vic sells half their seats for the first 5 previews for just £10. The best deal of them all is the Lyric Hammersmith, where all seats during the previews are priced at just £15.

 

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