From smash hit musicals to classic productions and avant-garde performances, London’s thriving theatre scene is an important part of the city’s cultural tapestry. Each night, London’s West End provides unforgettable experiences for thousands of spectators; follow our guide on how to get cheap theatre tickets in London and get involved.
Specific theatre deals
Lots of theatres offer special deals for certain performances, such as a selection of dedicated £10.00 tickets offered in advance or cut-price tickets released on the day of the show.
The National Theatre
The NT releases a small number of £10.00 ‘Friday Rush’ tickets online every Friday at 1pm for the following week’s performances. Simply head to the website before 1pm on Friday and click on the ‘Book Friday Rush tickets’ button to join the queue for tickets. A random queue number will be assigned to everyone trying to book; any number lower than 120 and you’re in with a chance.
Southwark Playhouse offers a ‘pay-as-you-go subscription’ service, £75.00 for a balance of five tickets that can be redeemed anytime you like at any of their shows. You can even use one of your tickets to bring a friend along to the performance. That works out at a very affordable £15.00 per ticket.
Almeida sells a number of concession tickets at knock-down prices, but the star of the Cheapo show is the 25s and under deal – not only can you grab a £5.00 ticket on certain performances of every production, but you get 20% off all food and drink at the Almeida Café & Bar when you show a same-day £5.00 ticket.
Royal Court Theatre
The Royal Court Theatre lists cheap ‘£12.00 Monday’ tickets, available from 9am on their website each week, for performances that evening. There are also discounts available for standing tickets and for the first three performances, where you get to be part of the decision-making process by providing audience feedback.
Cheapo Top Tip: Friends and Supporters who have annual membership, which starts from a paltry £40.00, get early access to the Monday tickets and can buy up to four per week. If you’re a theatre fan, do the maths (hint: if you go more than a couple of times a year, it’s a bargain).
The Young Vic runs a £10.00 ‘Lucky Dip Tickets’ scheme for selected performances. Book via the website, turn up and cross your fingers: you won’t find out which area you will be watching the show from until just before the start of the performance.
The Globe offers 700 £5.00 ‘Yard’ tickets for every performance; these can be purchased at the box office, online or over the phone. Remember you’ll be standing in the open air for the duration of the play, so monitor the weather and dress accordingly. The yard audience are known as ‘groundlings’ as in Shakespeare’s time, and it does make you feel part of the tide of history; definitely something to tick off your London experiences list.
Tickets for a number of smash hits including Sunset Boulevard, Matilda, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Moulin Rouge can be purchased cheaply if you enter a ticket lottery. Top level bargains include £25.00 tickets for Cabaret and £10.00 tickets for Hamilton. Enter on the theatre website or via TodayTix.
‘Free’ ticket schemes
There are a number of organisations that help to keep theatre venues full each night by offering ‘free’ tickets. They’re not completely free, as you’ll have to pay an admin charge of around £2.50–£5.00, but they do provide an incredibly cheap way of bagging a seat at a London theatre show.
Longstanding members often have access to the most popular shows, so it pays to use the service often. If a scheme is not currently accepting new members, be sure to check again in the future, as they may well be on the lookout for new theatregoers at a later date.
Central Tickets offers a variety of cheap theatre tickets priced from £4.00 admin fee each.
My Box Office
There’s a £15.00 registration fee – currently on half-price promotion – which gets you in line for free tickets, with a small admin charge.
Play by Play
Play by Play charges a membership fee of £45.00 which then allows you to catch plays for a minimal fee of £1.00–£3.00.
Audience Club charges £5.00 to join and then £3.00 per ticket.
Cheap theatre tickets for students and under 26s
The Young Vic releases a number of £12.00 tickets for under 26s and full-time students for every production. Check the listings when a new run of performances is announced.
The National Theatre
Good news if you’re aged 16-25; tickets for £10.00 or less are available as standard – click here to book.
Go Live Theatre Projects
Go Live Theatre Projects – the organisation formerly known as Mousetrap Theatre Projects – has a free 15-24 membership club, which grants members access to at least two group outings each month with tickets as low as £7.00 for those aged 15-18 and £15.00 for those aged 19-24. Simply sign up via their website. There’s also Go Live Grads for the 25-29 age group; pay an annual £12.50 admin fee and then receive ticket deals to top shows for just £15.00.
Royal Shakespeare Company
The Royal Shakespeare Company releases 20 £5.00 tickets for every performance. They’re available to those aged 16-25, and can be booked at the Barbican Box Office or over the phone on the day of the performance at 01789 331111.
Hampstead Theatre offers £10.00 tickets for under 30s for every performance. Tickets can be booked in advance online, over the phone or in person at the Box Office.
Theatre Royal Haymarket
Theatre Royal Haymarket runs a free scheme called ‘Master Class’ for those aged 16-30. Visit their website to become a member and gain access to selected £5 West End tickets plus theatre career advice and workshops.
If the show you’d like to see isn’t available under any of the above schemes, here are a few pieces of general advice to help you get cheap theatre tickets in London.
Always take into account the admin costs, as some ticket providers will attach outrageously high booking fees to otherwise affordably-priced tickets.
Another decent option is TKTS in Leicester Square. ‘The Official London Theatre Ticket Booth’ sells same-day tickets with big reductions–sometimes at less than half price. You can rest assured your tickets are legit, as TKTS is operated by the ‘Society of London Theatre’ and is the only official ticket booth in the city.
Seats in the gods will be cheaper, but always use a seating website like TheatreMonkey to check the reviews for your specific seat number.
Midweek shows and matinees also tend to be cheaper than the prime-time performances over the weekend.
A final word of caution, there are often touts selling cut-price theatre tickets in and around Leicester Square. While these tickets may well be above board, it is difficult to be sure. And for this reason, we recommend sticking to the official outlets.
Sticking to ticket sellers displaying the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) logo is a good rule of thumb. STAR members are regulated and approved by the government to resolve any problems that might occur later down the line.