London theatre information:
Booking tickets for London theatres
Buying cheap tickets
We all like to save money and considering the price of theatre tickets this is an important issue. If you are prepared to hold off buying your tickets till the last day and are prepared to take any seats available, then there are bargains to be had. You should also read our Tips on buying tickets.
Official Society of London Theatres' half-price "tkts" booth
You should visit the Official Society of London Theatres' half-price "tkts" booth in Leicester Square. You should be able to find half or 3/4 price tickets for most West End shows on the day. The booth is open every day. Click here for details.
Beware of expensive imitations
There are a number of stores and individuals who claim to be the "half-price" booth, but are not and at worst they are just touts selling tickets at inflated prices to the unwary.
Shortly before a show starts many theatres sell off their standby tickets cheaply. If you are in London for a few days or more then it could be worth checking these out and you might get lucky. At the National Theatre standby tickets are available two hours before performances at reduced prices. There may be restrictions on the sale of tickets though. You may be not be able to get more that two tickets, or even one per person in the queue. Some standby tickets may only be available to senior citizens or students. Call the theatre early in the day to find out if they're likely to have standby tickets. Theatres that have a policy of selling standby tickets cheaply include:
- Most West End theatres - Senior citizens get half price tickets in the stalls
- Royal National Theatre, English National Opera - Available to anyone, but only one or two tickets per person
- Royal Shakespeare Company - Senior citizens, students and under 19's. Limit of one ticket per person.
- Cottesloe- very limited number
Standby tickets are not bookable in advance, you must be there in person, and you may have to pay cash, so check with the theatre box office and have the cash and suitable identification ready when you go.
If you can get a posse together then you will benefit from greater discounts for advanced bookings. Theatres love groups and some even have special information for groups. Call the theatre box office and ask about their group reductions, offers and which performances qualify for group discounts. Generally groups are encouraged to go during the quieter performances Monday to Thursday.
Special offers in the press
Check the press for adverts selling tickets for shows at a discount, for example matieés or mid week performances which are not selling well. Be careful that it's not someone trying to pull a fast one and sell expensive tickets. If it's a reasonable size advert in a reputable publication the you should be OK and you can always check out the real price by calling the theatre box office.
Special offers from agencies
Sometimes agencies need to shift slow selling shows and put on offers such as half price or two for one offer. We must stress, again, that you check that the agency is legitimate and that half means half the face value and not half of any price they think of.
Avoid the rush
Theatres balance demand for the less popular midweek and matieé performances by offering these at discounted rates to encourage more people to buy tickets for these shows. You may be able to get discounted rates for matieé through agencies such as ticketmaster.
Theatre Clubs and mailing lists
There are numerous clubs who offer members discounted ticket offers. Some theatres charge a small fee to send you regular updates of shows and offers.
West end shows, it does happen in other theaters but mainly in the West End where the shows run for a long time, are performed in front of audiences before the opening night. These are basically full dress rehearsals in front of an audience. Producers and directors can fine tune a show and see how an audience reacts. Performances may not be as polished and changes and cancellations are always possible. Tickets to these previews are sold at heavily discounted rates. If you are not fussy then this is a good option.
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