Getting Cheap Theatre Tickets in London

Getting Cheap Theatre Tickets in London

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New York City has Broadway, and London has the West End. It’s an area of the city where you can see top-rated musicals and plays. London can be expensive, but there are a ways to get cheap theatre tickets in London.

A Tale of Two Trips

The first time I went to London was back in 2008. I was younger and more naive when it came to travel. I just wanted to see a show on the West End, and I had a particular musical in mind (Avenue Q, which is no longer running). I bought a ticket in advance at full price. I don’t remember how much I spent, but I’m sure it was at least £60 (about $100CAD).

This time I went and saw two shows for a combined total of £30 ($50). Here’s what I did differently from my previous trip.

The Shows I Saw in London

I saw two shows in London. First was a play called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It’s based on a book of the same name by Mark Haddon and adapted for the stage by Simon Stephens. I also saw a revival of the musical Funny Girl. It originally debuted on Broadway in 1964, and later became a movie with Barbra Streisand.

I’d read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time before and was curious (haha) to see how it translated as a play. It was fantastic The way they integrate the set into the show was brilliant. The acting was amazing. Without spoiling the ending, I will say you’ll want to stay after the curtain call.

A poster for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time outside the Gielgud Theatre. Yes, it is a long title, but it’s a great show.

Funny Girl was a musical I’d never seen, but I knew songs like “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “People.” It starred Sheridan Smith, who is an English actress. I wasn’t familiar with her work, but she was great, as was the rest of the cast. This is a classic romantic-comedy musical with lots of singing and dancing. While it had some serious moments, it was a pretty fun musical.

How to Save on Theatre Tickets in London

To get these cheap theatre tickets I bought stall or day tickets. These are last-minute tickets that you buy at the box office on the day of the show. With stall tickets, your seats will be right in the stall section of the theatre. These seats are usually right down on the main floor, often in the first rows.

Funny Girl Marquee. I got to the box office a few hours after it opened, so I got a seat further back in the theatre. If you’re going to the show with a group of people, get to the box office early to try to get seats together.

Important Information  About Stall Tickets

Not every show will have stall tickets. Check the show’s website to see if stall tickets are still available.

Your best bet to get stall tickets is to show up at the box office when it opens in the morning. If you wait until later they may not have any stall tickets at the discounted price.

The seats may have an obstructed view. Make sure to ask the box office attendant if this will affect your experience with the show. I had a partially blocked view of Funny Girl from the overhang of the balcony. Luckily for that show, I could still see all the performers on stage.

A front-row seat might seem ideal, but know the stage is up higher than you’re sitting. Chances are you’ll have to crane your neck a bit to see the show. This is what happened to me when watching The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. There was also a lot of movement that was on the ground level for that play. A significant upside was an intense scene between two of the characters played out mere inches in front of me.

You’ll need cash or credit card to buy the tickets. You’ll also need to give your name and phone number (your number back home works fine) to get the tickets.

Theatres in London are older and may not be accessible to everyone. Talk to the box office attendant if you need an accessible seat before buying your ticket.

Other Options For Cheap Theatre Tickets in London

If stall tickets are not available, there are few other options for cheap theatre tickets in London.

The Lottery

Some shows will have a lottery, where you show up at the box office and write your name down to win tickets to the show. If you win, you can buy a reduced ticket (usually around £15) for the show. Not every show has a lottery and how you enter may vary, so make sure to check the show’s website for more information. With a lottery, you will need to pay in cash, and you can usually only win two tickets. You’re not guaranteed to win, so you have to decide if you want to take that chance.

Discount Tickets from TKTS

In Leicester Square is a TKTS Booth. It has discounted tickets for various shows in London. Their website will tell you what shows are available, but this can change daily. TKTS charges a small service fee of £3 on top of the discounted ticket price. They are a not-for-profit organization, and this fee goes to promoting the arts.

The TKTS booth at Leicester Square. Lines for TKTS can be quite long. If you get there early, you’ll have a better chance of getting a ticket for the show you want to see.

Newspapers and Online

Newspapers or website like Time Out London or London Theatre may list shows that have discounted tickets available. Be sure to check the website for the theatre or show itself. A matinee ticket might be available for a lower price than what you’d pay on a Friday night.

See Something Off-West End

London is a huge city, and there’s a variety of great theatres everywhere. You don’t have to see a big West End show to see the theatre in London. There are smaller venues Off-West End and Fringe Venues that have shows as well, and prices are much more reasonable than a West-End ticket.

Get The Today Tix App

Today Tix is an app available for iOS or Android that a co-worker recommended I download for my trip. On Today Tix you can get cheap tickets for shows in several cities (including London). You sign up for an account, which is free, and select the city you want tickets for. Then you can see what discounted tickets are available. If there’s a show you want to see you can use your credit card to pay for your ticket. You’ll be given an email confirmation number, which you’ll show to the attendant at the box office for your ticket. Today Tix even lets you enter show lotteries, without having to queue outside before the show. It’s the easiest way to get cheap tickets in London and many other cities like New York, Toronto, and Los Angeles.

Use the Code JGZYL to save £10 (or $10) on your first order with Today Tix.

Things To Know
Both of these shows that I saw in London have now closed (such is the life of theatre). If there is a revival or tour of Funny Girl or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time coming to your area I’d highly recommend both shows.
The theatre tips mentioned in this article can still be used for other shows on the West End. Except for Hamilton. Chances are it’s probably sold out, and you will need to pray to the theatre gods to get a ticket for that show. There is a lottery you can enter for Hamilton through the official app (no other lottery entry is possible).
While in London I stayed at the YHA St. Pancras Hostel. Located within a two-minute walk of the St. Pancras/Kings Cross station, this was an affordable accommodation option for budget travellers. Of course if you aren’t on a budget there are plenty of great hotels in London you can book here.

Have you seen any shows in London?

10 thoughts on “Getting Cheap Theatre Tickets in London”

  1. These are great tips to getting some good deals on some first rate shows, I wanted to do this when I was in London, but never got a chance to see the ones that were on my list unfortunately. I’ll have to take another trip to London to have this experience some day.

  2. Great tips. Love a show but London is one pricey town. We’ve used TKTS in New York too and it never disappoints for a great discount.

  3. Ohh I love the theater! I live in Melbourne now, where the discount ticket booths haven’t quite caught on yet – but I do get emails with discount tickets for shows that are a few weeks from closing! You do have a lot more choice of shows in London though – with lots of theaters compared to Melbourne’s 4!
    And – back to your closing question and to which shows I have seen in London: Phantom of the Opera & the Lion King (at least 10 years ago); Rock of Ages (2 years ago) and Wicked (2 weeks ago!). Did I mention I love the Theater 🙂

  4. I live about 1.5hours of London so I haven’t had a chance to see a show yet. I’ve heard these last minute deals are really quite good. I might go up for a day and try my luck!

  5. These are some cool tips! I had heard about rocking up to the box office on the day can work, but the lottery is something new to me! I saw The Lion King at West End when it first came out. Life changing experience!

  6. Will be sure to check out TKTS next time I’m there! and good to know The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was great, I also read the book but didn’t get to watch the play- last time I was there it was choosing between Curious Incident of the Dog and Lion King and we went for Lion King 😉 but now I know which to choose!

  7. This post should be required reading for anyone going to London. I’m a huge fan of TKTS because of their location and how friendly the staff are – but I had no idea that they were non-profit – even nicer! I’d also suggest that people not get too hung up on sitting with their friends. There are often excellent seats available as singles but good quality sets of 2 or 4 are rare and pricey at the last minute. You can talk during the intermission!

  8. I love the theatre!!! Reminds me of my awesome time in dramatic class on high school but I cringe when I see that conversion … £60 (about $100CAD) when I was in London I had to constantly remind myself the the price is double in Canadian dollars.

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