Click HERE for theatre locations, telephone numbers and website links.
Click HERE for reviews of current West End shows.
**SCROLL DOWN for special offers**
is so much theatre in London that, unlike in other cities, you don't
have to buy tickets months in advance. With one or two exceptions each
season, you can usually get good seats on the day you want to see a
can buy tickets through ticket brokers online, by mail or phone, or in
many hotels and storefront offices, but even the most honest will
charge you about 25% over the ticket cost, in most cases just for
phoning the theatre for you.
It is almost always better to deal with the theatre box office directly. You can buy tickets in person at the theatre, paying only the base price, or book tickets online or by phone with a credit card, for a service charge (normally one or two pounds, but in extreme cases as much as twelve, so be sure to ask).
If you do choose to use a broker, it is helpful to know that they are required by law to give you the following information before asking for money or credit card details: the exact location of your tickets (part of the theatre, row and seat numbers), the base price (what you'd pay at the theatre), their commission or other charges, and the total price. If they don't volunteer this information before asking for money, end the transaction and shop elsewhere.
Day Seats Many West End shows have adopted the National Theatre's long-held policy of holding back a block of cheap seats (often the front row, for some reason unpopular with full-paying audiences) for sale on the day of performance. Ask about Day Seats at the box office, who will also tell you whether you need to begin queuing early.
Half Price Those on a budget will want to visit the Society of London Theatres' half-price "tkts" booth in Leicester Square, where tickets to many shows are sold at deep discounts up to seven days in advance. You have to buy in person (no phone orders), selecting from the list of what's available, but in practice all but a very few sold-out hits are available most days. Discounts vary, but are generally close to half-price, and the booth also sells full-price tickets (with no commission) for the few shows without discounts, so you can make it a one-stop shopping centre for all your theatre buying.
(Be sure to use the official "tkts" booth, which is a free-standing building in Leicester Square itself, not the many storefront brokers on the side streets that all call themselves the "official" half-price booth but somehow run out of discounts just as you get there, and have been known to sell balcony seats at stalls prices.)
Groups If you bought every seat in the house, you would expect a discount. But in fact most shows will give you a discount for groups as small as 6. Ring the theatre and ask about group rates.
Standby Students and senior citizens can get the best deal with standby tickets. Most theatres will sell you the best remaining seats for the next performance, for about the price of the cheapest. In most cases standby tickets aren't available until about an hour before the show, though some theatres will sell them earlier in the day, or even a day in advance. Phone or visit the theatre and ask if they're likely to have standby -- they'll give you an honest answer.
Beat the Critics Most new shows have a week or more of preview performances before the official Opening Night. While sometimes there are last-minute script changes or technical glitches, 95% of the time you'll see the same show as everyone else later on. If you don't need critics to tell you whether you'll like it, you can save up to 50% on ticket prices during previews.
If you come to London by train (intercity or commuter, but not underground), you can get two-for-one tickets to STOMP, THIRTY-NINE STEPS, THRILLER, WOMAN IN BLACK and WE WILL ROCK YOU, along with other London attractions.CLICK HERE for details.
**OYSTER CARD OFFERS**
At the moment, there are no two-for-one offers for Oyster Card holders. When a new batch are announced, we will provide a link from this page.
CHEAP TICKETS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE**
Theatrefix, a project of the Society of London Theatres, offers discounted tickets to West End and Fringe shows to 16-26 year olds. CLICK HERE for details.
Mousetrap Theatre Projects is a charity (funded in part by the profits of the eternally-running whodunit) that encourages young people's involvement in theatre. Among their programmes are one that offers 15-18 year olds West End tickets for as little as £5, and another providing £10 tickets to 19-23 year olds. CLICK HERE for details.
For a limited time, young theatregoers between 15 and 19 can join the National Theatre's free Entry Pass system enabling them to buy tickets to NT shows for £5. CLICK HERE for details.
The Old Vic offers £12 tickets to those under 25. CLICK HERE for details.
The Royal Court Theatre offers tickets for £8 to those under 26. CLICK HERE for details.
Most Off-West End and Fringe theatres have special concessionary discounts for students, seniors and the unemployed.
Also see the notes above about Student Standby tickets to West End shows..
**OTHER SPECIAL DEALS**
From time to time individual shows run test ads in a single newspaper or magazine, offering a special deal, just to see how the ad pulls. And the Society of London Theatres offers deals to their limited Official London Theatre mailing list. We'll keep you informed of all we find. In each case, phone or visit the theatre directly, and ask for 'the Metro offer,' 'the Official London Theatre offer,' etc. Note that phone bookings may incur a service charge and that in some cases reductions may be limited to weeknights.
BURN THE FLOOR - Shaftsbury Theatre. Top seats £25. To May 31. Ask for Evening Standard offer. Or top seats £29.50. To June 30. Ask for Official London Theatre offer.
A CHORUS LINE - Palladium. Mid-price seats £25. To June 28. Ask for Metro offer.
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG - Pinter Theatre. Top seats £25. To June 1. Ask for Evening Standard offer.
ONE MAN TWO GOVNORS - Haymarket Theatre. Top seats £39.50. To June 26 if booked by May 31. Ask for Official London Theatre offer.
PASSION PLAY - Duke of York's Theatre. Top seats £35. To May 23. Ask for Official London Theatre 'Passionate' offer
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN - Palace Theatre. Top seats £40. To June 5 if booked by May 27. Ask for Official London Theatre offer.
SPAMALOT - Playhouse Theatre. Top seats half-price. To June 30. Ask for Official London Theatre 'Bonnie' offer.
STOMP - Ambassadors Theatre. Top seats half-price. Ask for Where Magazine offer.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK - Fortune Theatre. Top seats half-price. Ask for London Planner offer.
Though we remain convinced that you are almost always better off dealing directly with the theatre, sometimes the larger ticket brokers do get special deals that enable them to sell tickets at discount prices. These are often the least desirable seats in each price range (i.e. rear stalls or side circle) and you can't always choose and must take what they give you, but you may find the discount worth it. Our friends at Theatremonkey.com have a complete list of current offers, along with dinner+theatre and hotel+theatre deals.
OTHER MONEY-SAVING HINTS
For expert, impartial advice on saving money on everything from sightseeing to telephone calls, we recommend MoneysavingLondon.com.
Unlike in France, you're not expected to tip your usher. But unlike America, you don't get a free programme book. If you want one, you have to buy it from the usher - currently the most common price is £3. Typically a programme has cast and author biographies and some magazine-style articles. The National Theatre, the Royal Court and some Off-West End and Fringe theatres give out free one-page cast lists if that's all you want.
For this you'll really have to check daily papers or ring the theatres, since there are no constants. Most shows have performances Monday through Saturday evenings, with matinees Saturday and one weekday, possibly Tuesday, more likely Wednesday or Thursday. But a few shows have a Sunday performance in place of Monday, and a couple have two performances on Friday.
Evening performances may start anytime between 7:00 and 8:30, with 7:30 and 8:00 the most common, so be sure to check when you buy your ticket. Matinees are most likely to be 2:30 or 3:00.
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