I LOVE having the opportunity to see theater shows live and have been very fortunate to see a decent number of shows. In London alone, I have seen Wicked, Once, Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, The Book of Mormon and Hamilton on the West End and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare’s Globe. I even consider the theater one of the London Attractions worth the cost. For most of these shows, I bought the tickets last-minute and at a low-cost. I believe that theater should be more accessible to the public, so I have gather my five of my best tips for scoring tickets to London Theater shows! Hopefully these tips can help you score tickets to your first choice show on your next trip!
1. Plan Ahead
This may seem contrary to what I said above about getting my tickets last-minute, but there is something to be said for planning ahead! Especially with newer shows, buying your tickets when they are first released will allow you to get great at face value. Buying tickets as they are released means you will have a wider variety to choose form as well. If you are planning a trip well in advance, this will be your best bet for getting the tickets you want. Planning ahead for theater shows has the added benefit of helping you pack the right outfits for your trip. Be sure to check well in advance for ticket releases. Furthermore, if you are really passionate about theater, you could potentially plan the whole trip around which dates you are able to get your tickets.
2. Check for Rush Ticket Policies
What are “Rush” Tickets? Rush tickets are the tickets sold at the theater box office on show day. This tickets are sometimes cheaper, but at the very least are sold at face value. The trick with rush tickets is that you have to be AT THE BOX OFFICE when it opens to get them. I have had more luck getting Rush tickets for less popular shows, such as the second row seats I got to see Once for only 25 GBP. I tried a few times to get them for Book of Mormon and Les Miserables and failed, so keep in mind this isn’t a guarantee of tickets. The popular shows often have some of their more expensive seats still available, but they can come at a steep cost. I could have gotten Book of Mormon or Les Mis tickets on those “failed” attempts but they were over $100. Definitely consider this an option for getting tickets though because when it works out, you will spend a magical few hours in an amazing show.
3. Buy the Standing Room Tickets
This one specifically applies to shows at Shakespeare’s Globe, but there are often standing tickets at West End Shows as well. Pros: low-cost(only 5 for groundling tickets at the Globe). Cons: Standing for the entirety of a long theater show. For the Globe, I definitely recommend the groundling experience(this is what the globe calls the standing seats). Not only are the tickets insanely cheap, but the experience is unlike any other. The nature of the globe means the standing room spots are just the in open courtyard of the theater. This leaves the audience available for participation as the actors move through the crowd. It is a very fun experience and a low-cost way to see the best performance of Shakespeare you will ever witness. Keep in mind: you will want comfortable shoes if you choose this option. Check out some of my recommendations for great travel shoes right here.
For West End shows, the standing room spaces are a bit less exciting, but they do still come with the bonus of being low-cost. Definitely don’t write off standing room tickets if you are physically capable of doing it because they experience is really interesting and it will save you a good amount of money. I do recommend checking the running time of the show in advance though. I enjoyed the first half of A Midsummer Night’s Dream much more than the second because I did not realize just how long the play was.
4. Enter Ticket Lotteries
I will admit that this one is certainly not a guarantee of any kind. A handful of the more popular shows utilize lotteries to fill empty seats at the last minute. I recommend this for those who consider theater tickets a nice bonus rather than a must-have. Most of the ticket lotteries allow winners to buy up to two tickets for $10-$20 a piece. This is a significant mark down from face value and the tickets are often great seats. You could also use ticket lotteries to potentially add a second (or third!) show to your trip at a much lower cost. You save money and get to see a show! Plus, you can brag to your friends about winning!
5. Don’t Give up!
Persistence pays off! Most theaters have ticket exchange policies so those who are unable to attend the show they originally planned to. Through this, they can exchange their seats for a later date. Because of this, it pays to check back on the online ticketing sites periodically if you really want to see a show. For my London trip, I obsessively checked the Hamilton shows for the week I was visiting to try to find tickets. My friend and I got lucky and on Tuesday morning 2 tickets appeared for about $50 each in the third tier. We ended up getting very lucky and having a perfect unobstructed view of the stage. To top it off, Hamilton was even more incredible than I ever imagined. Had I not been persistent, we would have likely missed out on those seats. Much like anything else you want in life, if you keep trying, you will eventually be successful!
Bonus Tip: Avoid 3rd Party Sellers
Whether it be the stands all along the streets of London of Stubhub resales, skip these. They will up charge the tickets significantly, and are honestly a waste of time and money. Besides, if you follow the tips above, you shouldn’t even need these!
I hope these tips help you to get tickets to your first(or at least second) choice show in London. Now go forth and get some theater tickets! From one Misguided Millennial to the world, I hope you enjoy the show!