London on a Budget: Scoring Cheap Theatre Tickets
Enjoy the theatre experience without breaking the bank
· 3 min read
London's West End is known worldwide for its incredible theatre scene, attracting millions of audiences every year. Watching a musical or play at West End is an experience that is on the agenda for most travelers to London. On top of tickets being hard to get, it also has a reputation of being expensive. But don't worry, there are ways to enjoy the best of London theatre without breaking the bank.
Day Seats and Rush Tickets
Many West End theatres offer day seats and/or “rush” tickets. Day tickets are sold at a discounted price on the day of the show, while rush tickets could be released earlier at fixed timings in the week. As availability for these tickets are limited, there is usually a cap to the number of tickets each person can purchase.
How to purchase these tickets vary from show to show, but generally, you will be able to purchase them online or at the box office. While some shows have their own sites for getting tickets, rush tickets for most shows can be purchased using the Todaytix app. Check the official website for the shows that you are planning to watch to get more information of where and when to purchase these tickets. Keep in mind that popular shows tend to sell out so you might want to head to the box office earlier to queue, or to join the virtual online queue as soon as it opens.
If you're feeling lucky, you can try your chances with lottery tickets. Some West End shows offer lottery tickets — it is free to enter the lottery, and winners will be given the chance to purchase tickets at a discounted price. Most lottery tickets are released using the Todaytix app. The draw periods for lottery tickets vary from show to show, with some shows accepting lotteries only on the day of the show while others have draws for shows 1 to 2 weeks later. Be sure to check out the submission and draw periods for the show that you want to watch so that you don’t miss the timeline for submission! Take note that some of the draws close only a couple hours before the show, so you might have to be flexible with your timings if you are planning to try your luck with a lottery.
Visit the TKTS Booth
Located in Leicester Square, the TKTS booth offers discounted tickets to a variety of West End shows. Discounted tickets can be for same-day shows, or for shows up to a week in advance, and prices can be discounted as much as 50% off. There are many other ticket offices around the square, but the TKTS is the only one that is run by the Society of London Theatre. So if you are looking for a bargain, definitely do check out TKTS — and you can rest assured that it’s definitely reliable. Keep in mind that the selection may be limited, so it's best to arrive early.
If you don't mind standing for the duration of the show, this could be an option to consider! Not all shows offer standing tickets, but for those that do, these tickets are usually at a much lower price than seated tickets. Some theatres have designated standing areas, while others require standing ticket holders to stand at the back of the theatre or in the aisles. Watching a play while standing is definitely an unique experience, but it could be tiring and uncomfortable, so it's important to consider whether this option is right for you.
If you wanted to experience watching a play standing, then you should most definitely want to catch one at Shakespeare’s Globe. At the Globe, you will get to experience the classic London experience of a ‘groundling’ (standing in a pit), and unlike most other theatres, standing tickets at The Globe actually gives you the best views while at a bargain.
Matinee and Weeknight Shows
Matinee (daytime shows) and weeknight performances are another great option for those looking to save money on theatre tickets in London. Not all shows offer matinee performances, and some shows have the same price structure for all their shows, but these options generally can be less expensive than attending a show on the weekends or in the evenings. It's definitely worth checking out the schedules and prices of matinee and weeknight shows to see if it fits into your itinerary.