There’s nothing I love more than going to the theatre in the West End. Its one of the major perks of living in London. In fact, I’ve pretty much seen everything there is to offer – especially the big shows. I also am not interested in sitting in the Gods where the actors seem miles away and you can only see the top of their heads. I like cheap tickets, but I also want the best seats. I have more than a few tricks up my sleeve to get these.
And you know what, you CAN go to shows totally free too. I’ve been to Sunny Afternoon, Let it Be and the Pajama game – in incredible seats – totally free.
You can visit a million sites telling you to not buy from touts, avoid £3 booking fees going direct etc – but think I’ve got far superior tricks!
Sign up to Showfilmfirst
I can’t urge you enough to do this enough. There is nothing worse for a theatre/show to have empty seats. It doesn’t look good. So producers work with companies to get people to fill out those seats on the day/in the week. It’s better for them, that your sat in the audience, potentially buying a brochure and a beer – than have an empty seat, making the show seem unsuccessful. Showfilmfirst is the big free website that offers this, but there are paid ones too which I’ve tried – but I don’t rate.
If you’re in London, you’ll be offered the best shows, but it’s 100% worth signing up even if you live outside because you’ll still get cinema tickets, comedy clubs and whatever is on in your local theatre.
You used to be able to print off a tickets free, but now they make you pay £1 per ticket – which stops people bagging tickets they ‘may’ go to and not turning up. Freebies go quickly, so when you’re offered something in your inbox – don’t hang around.
Book the expensive shows in December (GILT)
I LOVE Get Into London Theatre (GILT). In Dec/Jan/Feb, the theatres are the quietest they’ll be. So in an attempt to fill the seats, they offer £15, £20, £30 (sometimes £40) seats – depending on how good the view is.
In this sale, there are theatre seats that are never reduced otherwise – such as Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Matilda. Trust me, you’ll never find significant discounts on a lot of these shows.
The tickets are released in December and I suggest you sign up to know when the exact date is, because the best tickets go quickly. If there are shows I’ve been aching to see, I book a few for Jan and Feb (its my birthday in Jan too – so I use it as an excuse) and get the best seats in the house for £30. This year I saw Kinky Boots, Les Mis (my all time favourite) and Phantom of the Opera.
Enter the show lotteries
The biggest and best shows which have no reductions, tend to offer a lottery. These include the Book of Mormon (which is AMAZING) and Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – meaning you can get £200 seats, for £20.
So here, once a week you go online and tick off the dates you can go and hope your name is picked out a hat (well, not literally out a hat – but you know what I mean). You then pay £20 and will be in the front row of the show, on one of the days you’ve picked.
It’s winnable too – my friend Sam got two tickets to the Book of Mormon in the first week he tried. I suggest setting reminders on your calendar for the days the lotteries stat, so you can enter every week for the best chance to win.
Book of Mormon – There’s an online lottery, and also a Twitter lottery too for £20 (and you can get two tickets per winner, so you don’t have to go alone).
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – There are 40 cheap tickets that go every Friday at 1pm at £20 per part – so they’ll be £40 (I’ve been waiting two years to go – and paid £400!). Be on the page AT 1pm, and people will be picked at random.
Hamtilton – This is the new show that has crazy waits, and touts are selling tickets for thousands of pounds online. However, they’re offering lottery tickets too – £37.50 weekly lottery tickets (£1.25 booking fee too). The show hasn’t started yet, so there isn’t a page yet – so follow its social media for updates.
Aladdin – The Aladdin lottery is every Monday at 11am online and closes 11am on Tuesday. You can pick up to three performances for the following week, and winning tickets are £25 (you can get two).
Get cheap day rate tickets
Pretty much every show (including the big ones above) will give away top seats at a discount (around £20) if you turn up on the day. Now, this isn’t turning up at 7pm and asking for one of the cheap tickets for the stalls – you have to be there 8am in the morning for the big shows.
MoneySavingExpert is on Oxford Street and I’d walk through Leicester Square and Soho at around 9:30 in the morning to go to work, and would always be big queues outside the shows.
If you want to see something THAT night, it’s worth getting up early and getting yourself the best seats in the house for a feed quid.
Visit the TKTS booth
The TKTS booth in Leicester Square is THE ONLY booth in London you should buy cheap tickets. Please believe me, if you go anywhere else – you are far from getting a bargain.
Shows will give them tickets for that day, for seats that have not filled up. You won’t be getting tickets for the very popular shows (you’ll need to queue that morning) – but for second and third tier shows. Tickets tend to be about half price. Get there early too, because the better the show, the sooner the tickets will go.
Look, if you’re going to go early in the morning and queue – if you have your heart on a certain show, I’d say it was better to queue for day tickets for a particular show outside the theatre, than wait in the Tkts line. There’s no guarantee, but it is in your control.
Make sure you read the T&Cs for the individual show though, because you can queue for Aladdin and the Book of Mormon for example, but even the day tickets are lotteries so still might lose out.
Join Facebook re-selling groups
I hate touts generally, but there are Facebook groups I check out where people who can no longer go to a show sell their tickets for the same price, or a bit cheaper. I find it a bit weird you can’t return tickets, so don’t blame people for trying to sell them on. I’m part of the London Theatre Tickets and Unwanted London Tickets Facebook groups.
Of course, you need to use your head with these things. Ask for a picture of the tickets and go and meet them in person to exchange. Never hand over money with the promise the tickets are in the booking office waiting or they’ll be posted. Just protect yourself.
Follow Bargain Theatre on Twitter
My favourite way to spot a bargain is @bargaintheatre on Twitter. I don’t know the guys behind the site personally, but they seem to be a small group of theatre obsessives who love a bargain. They scour the deals sites for the very best tickets out there, so they’re worth following.
Are you a theatre fan? What have you seen? Ooohhh, check out my I hate you if… theatre edit too.