It's a question that has been asked a thousand times - 'What's the best and easiest way to book cheap West End theatre tickets in London?' What's the answer? Well, it can be a little complicated, but it's not impossible........
The West End is home to some of the greatest theatre shows, plays and musicals in the world and the most popular productions such as Hamilton, The Lion King, Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera can be very expensive with tickets selling at sometimes over £200 each! So if you are on a limited budget, how exactly to you manage to source out and find well priced theatre tickets to the top London shows?
We have compiled here a list of answers to some of your most FAQ's about booking theatre tickets in London which will hopefully give you an insight as how this industry works and how to source out the best deals to suit your needs.
Absolutely! West End theatre is just like any other business and is fuelled by supply and demand so always look at the dates and try to book midweek, Monday to Thursday when there is usually better availability. There are many shows in London that are constantly booked out or selling at full price plus booking fee during the weekends but do still have regular and attractive discounts for weekday performances. A prime example of this would be a show like Wicked The Musical at the Apollo Victoria Theatre which is a huge venue and regularly discounts both stalls ands circle tickets for weekday performances to fill the theatre.
For the same reasons detailed above, school holidays are a big 'no no' if you want to see popular West End shows on a budget. There are certain weeks of the year though (such as directly after the February half term holiday) that offer good value as people have just received their credit card bills and are still paying for Christmas, New Year or maybe a holiday and money is tight meaning that that even the most sold out shows will need to drop their prices to fill the venues. There are some fantastic bargains to be found if you are prepared to look and use the dates to your advantage.
A lot of productions (mostly short running plays) have well known celebrity star performers who are usually employed on big wages which in turn drives up ticket prices as the public flock to see them live on stage. Some of these productions will use the understudy for the starring roles in the midweek matinee which can sometimes lower the ticket price for that performance, so if it's the production rather than the cast that you are interested in then this is a good way to keep some of your hard earned cash in your pocket! There are also a selection of West End musicals including The Book Of Mormon and Phantom Of The Opera that regularly offer very reasonably priced tickets in both the stalls and circle for the midweek matinee. This is however not an 'exact science', as there are certain popular family orientated shows such as Disney's The Lion King, where booking tickets for matinee performances can actually work against you and occasionally even work out more expensive as the producers bank on parents not wanting to keep their kids out too late in the evening.
There are certain online platforms that will offer 'Rush' tickets on the day of the performance for certain productions from as little as £15 which is a kind of lottery system which therefore gives you no guarantee of success. While this is not the best way to do things if you need to go on a fixed date and to see a specific show, if you are flexible about what you go to see and when you see it then it can be a great way of seeing some of the most popular London musicals and plays on a very tight budget.
Another way to find lastminute West End theatre tickets is to visit the official theatre ticket booths in and around Leicester Square. Although these shops have ticket allocations from the theatre, they very often buy tickets up front at a lower cost in the hope that they can offload them for a larger profit or at a more attractive price than the competition. This practice can result in shops having to drop prices quite drastically at the end of the day to avoid be left with unwanted ticket stock so if you are not fussy about what you see or where you sit then you could pick up an absolute bargain! It should be noted however that not all of the ticket shops in the West End are 'Official' and it is wise to make sure that you are dealing with shops that are members of the 'Society Of London Theatre' (SOLT) before buying.
As nearly all of the theatres in the West End were built during the 18th and 19th centuries, there are usually a large selection of seats that offer a slightly limited or restricted view due to either pillars or an overhang from a balcony. Quite often, (such as the rear stalls seats in the Sondheim Theatre for Les Miserables) this 'restriction' is absolutely minimal and affects just a few seconds of the production and will not ruin your experience at all, but it will save you a considerable amount of money on the price of your ticket! It is therefore always worth checking out the seating plan before you buy seats that feature 'R/V' next to them to find out exactly what the restriction actually is.
These seats are located on either the third tier of the theatre or above and cannot ever be classed as 'good seats' but if you are bargain hunting and can find centrally located clear view seats they can definitely be worth a look for certain productions if you are looking to save money on your night out. it is definitely advisable to check the seating plan of the theatre prior to purchase though as 'cheap' is not always a bargain!
Mmmm…...this is not an easy one to answer! Basically it will depend on the show and the performance as the box office at the theatre will generally sell tickets at face value, while for many shows in the West End you can actually find tickets cheaper or at discount rates online or through the official retail outlets in and around Leicester Square if you are prepared to shop around.
The official (SOLT) agencies selling theatre tickets in London basically act as wholesalers for the shows. The producers grant them bulk allocations of tickets and give them access to favourable negotiated rates to ensure that the venues are full for every performance, a little like the airlines and holiday companies operate. This arrangement ensures that productions have the funds to keep running and also gives great value to the consumer!
All of the answers featured to the questions in our FAQ's section for all London theatre tickets are the opinions of www.theatretickets-london.co.uk and should therefore be interpreted as such and not as absolute facts.