A comprehensive guide to spending as little as possible on theatre in London – because why would you spend £60 on a show when it might be shit?!
National Theatre Entry Pass – If you’re 25 and under, then you can sign up for the Entry Pass scheme online. This gives you access to £7.50 tickets to every show (numbers permitting), as well as the option to bring a friend (who is also under 25) along for £10. Seats for the shows are in a variety of places, including the front row, and the scheme also allows you money off in the NT gift shop, too. In addition, the scheme offers cheaper tickets for any NT shows which have transferred to the West End. The National Theatre also host ‘Friday Rush’ – selling last-minute tickets on a Friday for that week’s performances.
Young Barbican – The Barbican Centre grants those aged 14-25 discounted tickets for a range of their theatre, dance, music, and art (from £5-£15) as well as any new film releases for £5).
Shakespeare’s Globe – This historic gem along the Southbank has 700 tickets for £5 every performance, and these tickets are for a Groundling (so, standing). Sure, you have to get there early to be near the front and you feet may ache, but it’s so worth it to be immersed and have the best view in the (play) house.
Hampstead Under 30s – For every show, the Hampstead Theatre offer £10 tickets to students and all under 30.
Almeida Theatre – The Almeida offer £5 tickets to their shows for under 25s, as well as discounts for those living in the Islington area for opening performances. Under 30s can also get £15 tickets. Additionally, the Almeida has been running a ‘Ypung and Free scheme’ where they release free tickets for 4 performances for one of their shows (Hamlet, Summer and Smoke, The Wild Duck) as well as free workshops and masterclasses throughout the week.
The Yard ‘No Empty Seats’ – The Hackney-based venue offer £5 tickets for any shows which aren’t sold out via their ‘No Empty Seats’ policy. If you’re under 25, you can nab a £5 ticket from 45-minutes before the show starts at the box office. For popular shows it may be risky, but the pay off is great.
Arcola Theatre – The Arcola offer £10 tickets to their shows for under 26s as well as 20% off standard tickets and other exclusive discounts and events. In addition, the theatre offers an ‘Arcola Passport’, allowing you to see 5 shows for £60. Their ‘Pay What You Can’ scheme allows audience members to purchase a ticket from 6pm for that evening’s show, paying what they can (average spend £5).
Bush Theatre– The Bush offer way too many schemes to live, including £10 ‘Count Me In’ tickets, money off for under 26s, discounts for senior citizens and local residents.
Young Vic – The Young Vic offer £10 ‘Lucky Dip’ tickets, meaning you pay a tenner and have no idea where you’ll be sat. They also offer £10 tickets for students and under 25s, senior citizens, and disabled audience members. They also offer a limited £5 first preview offer with TodayTix.
Old Vic – The Waterloo venue offers discounts for senior citizens and disabled patrons, as well as half of preview tickets for £10. These PwC Preview tickets are released a few weeks before the shows – keep up to date with when they’re relased with the Old Vic’s social media.
Royal Court – The theatre in Sloane Square have £12 tickets on Mondays, as well as £15 tickets for under 26s. They also offer 10p limited standing tickets for certain performances – TEN PENCE?!?!
Donmar Warehouse – The venue offers free tickets for under 25s as part of their ‘Young & Free’ scheme. KLAXON tickets are released on Mondays two weeks before performances for a reduced price, and the venue also offer cheaper standing tickets, bookable on the day of the performance. Preview performances are also reduced by £2.50 for each price band.
Apps and Websites
TodayTix -A free app which gives access to the best discounted tickets to top shows, and operates in many cities including London, New York, Chicago, and Melbourne. The app operates in three ways: Buying, Rush, and Lottery. The first is self-explanatory – just buy tickets to shows and collect at the box office. Secondly, Rush tickets (ranging from £15-25) are released at 10am on the day of the performance, and limited in number. You have to unlock these by sharing on social media, but once that’s done you can buy them instantly. Finally, the app runs ticket lotteries, usually being able to bag a pair of front row tickets to a West End show. Past lotteries have included for Kinky Boots, Dreamgirls, and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Lottery ticket prices range from £15-25.
Official London Theatre Sale – During January and February, Official London Theatre sell tickets to top West End shows, including The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, and Matilda for £10-40.
SeatPlan – Not only does SeatPlan offer tickets at fantastic prices, but they offer a comprehensive review system (put together by audiences) of theatre seats – a TripAdvisor for theatre seats, if you will. You can submit your own seat reviews for many London theatres, and earn 40p for each for a ticket photo and view from your seat. Once you rack up £10 of rewards, you can claim a £10 theatre token – pretty neat! It’s a small amount of work to do to start seeing the rewards flourish.
Mousetrap Theatre Projects – MTP gives students on any theatre-related course a £10 ticket and a workshop or Q&A every month to a top West End musical. You have to be quick, though, as they do get booked up very quickly. Just sign up online!
Hot Ticket Offers – Sign up to the website and you can receive discounted tickets to many theatre shows. For example, I got a £10 ticket to see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Day Seating & Lotteries
Day Seating – The most common way of getting tickets on the day of a performance is to simply turn up at the box office when it opens! This is most applicable for West End venues, and each show has a different price. Theatre Monkey has a full list of discounts they offer so best to check there first. In the past, I’ve managed to snag a £5 under 25 ticket for Matilda and a £20 ticket to the Palladium pantomime.
TKTS – Leicester Square’s TKTS booth is the place to go directly for day seats, opening at 10am, offering a huge variety of shows and offers.
Show Lotteries – Sometimes shows have their own lotteries on their website. These include (that I know of) Aladdin, Book of Mormon, and The Lion King. Hamilton have a specific app you can use to enter their lottery, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have their ‘Friday Forty’ lottery.
A general tip is just to shop around, enter competitions, try and see previews or weekday shows as these will generally be cheaper, too!
Do you have any other tips? Let me know and I’ll add them!