How to Get Cheap London Theatre Tickets

Theatre going has long been seen as an expensive treat – a perception not helped by some premium ticket prices sky-rocketing over £200 for top West End plays and musicals. 

Seeing a show doesn’t have to be a bank-breaking endeavour though, and there are a huge number of ways to save money on tickets. From discounts and cashback schemes to seat hacks and £10 tickets, read on for our ultimate guide to booking cheap London theatre tickets.

1. When to Book London Theatre Tickets | Day Seats and Same Day Theatre Booking London
2. Rush Theatre Tickets in London
3. Where to Book London Theatre Tickets
4. London Theatre Ticket Returns
5. What Are the Best Seats in a Theatre? | Save Money with Restricted View Theatre Seats
6. Earn Rewards by Reviewing Your Seats
7. £10 Theatre Tickets London
8. 2 for 1 Theatre Tickets London
9. Best London Theatre Discounts by Age & Demographic | Free Theatre Tickets for NHS Staff
10. Family and Kids Theatre Tickets
11. Student Theatre Tickets and 16 – 25 Tickets
12. How to Save Money with Theatre Group Bookings
13. Cheap Pre-Theatre Restaurants to Eat at
14. Get Snacks and Drinks at the Theatre for Less
15. Hotel and Theatre Packages London
16. Watch Live Theatre at Home
17. Theatre Podcasts and Radio Stations
18. Save Money by Watching a West End Show on Tour
19. Useful Links

1. When to Book London Theatre Tickets

The best time to book cheap London theatre tickets depends on the show. Plays with Hollywood stars often sell out fast but release a limited number of seats at a later date, whilst long-running shows usually have good advance availability and last minute cheap ticket schemes. 

In general, factors to consider are:

  • Advance vs last minute tickets. Booking in advance gives you the best choice of seats across all price bands. Last minute booking is great if you don’t mind waiting to see if prices drop on unsold seats, or you want to try your hand at one of the West End’s many same day cheap ticket schemes
  • Peak vs Off-peak periods. Peak and off-peak refers to the time of year, or day of the week, a performance falls on. Monday-Thursday outside of school holidays are off-peak, whilst weekends (including Friday evenings) and school holidays are peak. Peak period tickets cost more than off-peak tickets 
  • Preview performances. A preview is a performance before the play or musical’s official press night. Tickets for preview performances are usually a bit cheaper because the show is still being tweaked ahead of facing the critics
  • Seasonal promotions. Some promotions run every year with big savings on popular shows. These include:
    • Kids Week – 1 child goes free with a paying adult, other children go half price subject to availability

Day Seats and Same Day Theatre Booking London

Tickets which remain unsold on the day are often available at a reduced rate either on the official website, at the theatre’s physical box office, or via ticket sellers like the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. 

Many ticketing websites have dynamic pricing which means the cost of a ticket drops as the performance date gets closer. This doesn’t apply to the cheapest tickets, but on mid- or top-price tickets you can make a decent saving. 

We checked this at Les Misérables and found that Stalls R8 costs £70 for tonight and £95 one week later.

Many shows also allocate a number of tickets for Day Seat, Rush ticket or Lottery schemes, which can be booked either on the day of the performance or within a week of it. Rush and Lottery tickets are mainly booked online, but some theatres also operate an in-person Day Seat queue from 10am each day.

Tip: Even if you don’t secure Day Seats for a show, some theatres will give you a good deal for the effort of queuing up!

2. Rush Theatre Tickets in London

Rush tickets are cheap tickets released on the day of a performance, or in some cases a week before. Tickets are available on a first-come, first serve basis and the location of the seats is at the venue’s discretion. 

  • Many shows release their Rush tickets via the TodayTix app, which has a dedicated page to browse current Rush offers. On sale daily at 10am, prices £20-25
  • Disney Magical Mondays (formerly Disney Day Seats) sells £25 Rush tickets for that week’s performances – including West End Disney shows like Frozen and The Lion King, and UK touring Disney shows. On sale at 12pm each Monday

Other shows have Lotteries instead of Rush tickets, which you can enter each week for one or two tickets. These include the £10 Hamilton ticket Lottery, £25 Cabaret Lottery, and Friday Forty Harry Potter play Lottery.

3. Where to Book Cheap London Theatre Tickets

  1. Check the official site for face value prices

The first place to check when booking theatre tickets is the official website. Ticket agents have extra booking fees on top of face value, which can add up to 10% to the price. The official site sometimes has fees, but these tend to be less than £4 per ticket. 

The official box office for most West End shows will be on the venue group’s website – either LW Theatres, Nederlander Theatres, Nimax Theatres, Delfont Mackintosh, or ATG Tickets

  1. Look for discounts from ticket agents

Full price tickets cost more from ticket agents, but agents also have access to great discounts not available at the box office. Bookmark sites like Love Theatre, Encore Tickets, Lastminute, SeatPlan and From The Box Office, which regularly have discounts on top West End shows.

  1. Use your job to get money off or rewards

If you have an HR or Rewards scheme linked to your job, check for any theatre-related perks. For example, CharlieHR offers WOWPoints on a variety of theatre booking sites including TodayTix and ATG. 

If you work in a blue light job, you may also be eligible for free theatre tickets subject to availability. 

  1. Check cashback schemes

You can make some decent savings on theatre trips by signing up to websites such as Top Cashback and Quidco, who guarantee a percentage of money back on your purchase on ticketing sites including ATG Tickets, London Theatre Direct and Ticketmaster.

Some banks also offer cashback or discounts including Natwest Black Account, Club Lloyds, and Barclaycard

  1. Try TKTS and other last minute schemes for same-day discounts

TKTS, which operates online and at a physical booth in Leicester Square, has daily discounts for a variety of shows. Other last minute schemes including Rush tickets cost up to £25 per ticket.

4. London Theatre Ticket Returns

Much like Rush tickets and the TKTS booth, Returns are a great way to grab a last minute bargain. If tickets are returned before a show, they will be available to buy either online or in person at the box office. If you choose to go in person, these standby tickets – which are grouped together with all other unsold tickets – are often available at a discounted rate.

The Returns queue at popular shows can get long quickly, so always have a back up in mind in case you’re unsuccessful.

5. What Are the Best Seats in a Theatre?

The top price seats are right in the middle of the Stalls and front rows of the Circle. No matter which West End venue you visit, these are always considered the best seats in a theatre thanks to their Goldilocks formula of “just right” views of the stage. 

If you can’t afford these pricey tickets, the most important thing to consider is value for money. There are lots of seats across the auditorium with fantastic views of the stage no matter what you pay, and many more that are hidden gems. 

No matter your theatregoing budget, check the view from a seat to make sure it’s worth the price tag. SeatPlan’s interactive seating plans and Theatremonkey’s seating information offer a wealth of crowdsourced tips and tricks on everything from view to legroom and comfort at West End theatres. These are especially useful if you’re looking at a cheaper or restricted view seat. 

Theatremonkey collates comments from users in long-form venue pages, whilst SeatPlan presents this information with user-submitted photos on interactive seating plans.

Save Money with Restricted View Theatre Seats

Although many newer theatres have good sightlines throughout, the older West End venues are full of restricted view seats. Some of these are so restricted that you’re likely to see more support pillar than stage, but others are surprisingly good value for money. 

SeatPlan’s interactive seating plans are a great way to check how good a cheaper, restricted view seat is before you buy. Some of the best restricted view seats in the West End are:

Grand Circle A1 at The Phantom of the Opera (from £38):

Stalls D38 at Wicked (from £20):

Royal Circle Slips 5 at Hamilton (from £53):

Stalls G24 at The Play That Goes Wrong (from £22):

Grand Circle A31 at The Lion King (from £49):

Tip: SeatPlan has analysed thousands of West End seat reviews and photos to help audiences find the best restricted view seats at great prices.

6. Earn Rewards by Reviewing Your Seats

You can add your own photos to SeatPlan and save money on theatre tickets. Every seat-view photo you upload earns you points, which can then be redeemed for £10 theatre vouchers. This is a great way to save money if you see shows in the West End regularly, and you can feel good about helping other theatre fans choose where to sit as well. Win-win!

7. £10 Theatre Tickets London

It’s quite rare to find a £10 face value ticket in the West End, but there are several ways to secure this price at a variety of London plays and musicals, including:

Theatres not in the West End tend to be cheaper, so you can book £10-15 tickets at full price. Some great smaller theatres across London include the Donmar Warehouse, Hampstead Theatre, Arcola Theatre and Almeida Theatre.

8. 2 for 1 Theatre Tickets London

Many London theatre discounts are not marketed as 2 for 1 deals, but there are nevertheless a huge number of ways to cut down on the cost of your theatre tickets. 

Visit websites like Love Theatre, London Theatre Direct and Encore Tickets for exclusive offers.

ATG Theatrecard Membership is a great investment if you visit London and UK regional theatres. It offers priority booking, exclusive discounts, and more from just £35 a year – the average saving per year is £54 according to ATG’s own membership data.

The National Lottery previously supported a Love Your Local Theatre promotion in March 2022, with 2 for 1 tickets available at various theatres across the UK. 

9. Best London Theatre Discounts by Age & Demographic

Many London theatres offer reduced price tickets for one or more of the following groups:

Over 60s and Senior Theatre Tickets

Some West End productions offer discounts for age 60+ on weekday matinees, subject to availability. Contact the box office for more information. 

The Drifters Girl at the Garrick Theatre has a Student and Over 60s rate offering best available seats for £37.50 on selected off peak performances.

Many other theatres across London have concession prices for age 60+ including the London Coliseum and Old Vic Theatre.

London Neighbourhood Theatre Discounts

If you live in the same London borough as a theatre, check their website for any resident discounts. Theatres offering this include the Young Vic for Southwark and Lambeth and Lyric Hammersmith free theatre tickets for Hammersmith and Fulham.

Discounts on Access and Disabled Theatre Tickets

Most theatres offer discounts or reduced rate tickets for disabled customers. These are usually up to 50% off tickets or a free ticket for a companion or carer, but exact savings vary from venue to venue. Access tickets are booked directly with the theatre, and some even have a full Access Membership scheme to ensure the whole process is as easy and accommodating as possible. Theatres with Access Membership include the Barbican Theatre and Bridge Theatre.

Many theatres also have captioned, audio-described, BSL interpreted/Signed, and relaxed performances throughout the year. 

Check our individual guides to West End plays and musicals for more information about access discounts and how to book. 

Free Theatre Tickets for NHS Staff

If you work for the NHS, emergency services, social care sector or armed forces, you may be eligible for free theatre tickets or discounts. It is worth contacting venues individually to see if they can give you money off, but dedicated schemes include:

  • Blue Light Tickets. Sign up and enter ballots for free theatre tickets to selected shows and dates. Blue Light Tickets also provides tickets for sports, music and comedy events
  • ATG Local Heroes. Save up to 25% on theatre tickets for selected shows and dates. Most of these are currently for touring productions outside of London
  • Tickets for Troops. Free tickets to theatre, sport, music and cultural events for members of the Armed Forces and their families

Other Free Theatre Ticket Schemes

There are many seat-filling schemes you can sign up for, to access free or heavily discounted tickets for various London theatre shows. Some of these charge a membership or admin fee, but you stand to make a big saving compared to box office prices.

  • Show Film First membership gives you access to tickets for a variety of London events, in exchange for discretion and honest feedback
  • The Audience Club asks for a £5 donation and small admin fee for each booking, in exchange for access to free theatre tickets

10. Family and Kids Theatre Tickets

Some of the biggest family-friendly West End shows like Frozen or The Lion King don’t offer concessions for children, but groups of six or more can get money off certain seats. 

Shows aimed at very young children, including The Tiger Who Came To Tea and Room on the Broom, return to London annually. Tickets for these are a lot cheaper overall and there are sometimes family and child prices as well. Babes in arms can go free up to 12 or 18 months at some of these these shows.

There are a number of theatres in London which produce solely children’s theatre, including Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, Little Angel Theatre in Islington and Unicorn Theatre in Southwark. 

In August, Kid’s Week offers free children’s theatre tickets for a range of West End shows. 

11. Student Theatre Tickets and 16 – 25 Tickets

Many theatres in London have schemes to make theatre accessible for young people and students. 

Current discounts for 16-25 year olds include £10 TikTok Tickets for Matilda in the West End. Student discounts are not readily advertised or available at all West End shows, but it is always worth asking the box office. 

Off West End theatres are much more open about discounts for young people, and schemes include:

  • National Theatre 16-25 tickets across all three of its theatres. Tickets are for various productions and the seats are usually very good. 16-18 years olds can book £5 tickets, and 19-25 years olds can book £10 tickets

If you are aged 16-24, you can join Mousetrap Theatre Projects theatregoing club to book tickets from £7 and attend shows with other young theatre fans.

Some venues go even further, and offer completely free tickets for young people: 

  • The Donmar Warehouse YOUNG + FREE scheme provides free tickets to every production through an online ballot. This ballot is open to 16-25 year olds and winners can book up to 2 tickets per production
  • The English National Opera has free opera tickets for 16-20 years olds who sign up to their Under 21s membership scheme

School Group Theatre Bookings

Most age-appropriate West End shows have special ticket rates for school groups. This is usually a discount on a specific price band, and many shows also offer one free teacher’s ticket for every 10 student tickets purchased.

Other London theatres have similar school discounts. Check our production guides for more details.

12. How to Save Money with Theatre Group Bookings

Group bookings are available for most if not all West End shows and other plays and musicals in London. Group sizes start from as few as six people, with the amount you can save per ticket depending on the size of the group. If you’re planning a retirement party, birthday party, hen or stag do or any other celebration, it’s well worth checking if your group can take advantage of these prices.

Check our individual production guides for full group booking contact details at West End shows.

13. Cheap Pre-Theatre Restaurants to Eat at

Many restaurants in the West End have set menus for pre-theatre dining or offer special prices for theatregoers. There are also a huge number of great value places to eat in the central London area for all tastes, which won’t set you back too much. 

Chain restaurants abound in the Covent Garden and Strand area, so you’ll never be too far away from a Zizzis, Bella Italia, Brewdog pub or Wagamama for cheap pre-theatre dining. 

If you want something a little more unique but still easy on the wallet, London’s Chinatown is close to the West End with top cheap eats including C&R Cafe, Four Seasons and Baoziinn Romilly Street.

Another option is to look at experience gifting websites like Red Letter Days, which has a range of theatre and dinner packages available.

14. Get Snacks and Drinks at the Theatre for Less

Drinks and snacks sold at the theatre are notoriously expensive and many theatres say that drinks and food brought elsewhere can’t be taken inside, but in practice this isn’t strictly true. Always be prepared to have food confiscated at bag check, but in our experience most theatres let you bring in a plastic bottle of water and small snacks like sweets (as long as they don’t smell, aren’t hot food and won’t make too much mess or noise).

If you haven’t brought snacks with you from home, there are lots of mini-marts like Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local in central London.

15. Hotel and Theatre Packages London

If you’re travelling down to London, one way to save money is by combining your theatre and hotel booking into one London theatre break package. Sites like Omega Breaks, Hotel Direct and London Theatre Direct all have hotel and show packages for various big West End musicals which may save you money – as always though, make sure to check the price difference before committing to a package deal. 

Seasoned travellers can also take advantage of Railcard Theatre Tickets, with up to 50% off selected shows for cardholders.

16. Watch Live Theatre at Home

If you can’t make it down to London for every big West End show, there are a huge number of online streaming services which offer digital theatre from the comfort of your home.

National Theatre at Home is a subscription service for archive and cinema-quality recordings of National Theatre and NTLive productions including Angels in America, Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet, Ruth Wilson in Hedda Gabler and Gillian Anderson in All About Eve.

  • Subscription is £9.99 /month or £99.99 /year
  • Rent individual shows for 72 between £5.99 and £7.99
  • National Theatre Live also streams filmed live theatre – mainly current West End shows – into cinemas

Globe Player is a subscription service for Shakespeare’s Globe productions. 

  • Subscription is £59.99 /year
  • Buy individual shows for £9.99

Hamilton on Disney+ is available as part of a standard Disney+ subscription. The recording features the original Broadway cast of the hit musical. 

Come From Away on Apple TV Plus was filmed live on Broadway, and is included in an Apple TV Plus subscription.

BBC iPlayer Arts has an ongoing schedule of theatre productions including the Barbican’s Anything Goes starring Sutton Foster and Shakespeare’s Globe’s The Duchess of Malfi starring Gemma Arterton available to watch. 

The Shows Must Go On! on YouTube aired musicals including The Phantom of the Opera and Kinky Boots for free during the COVID-19 lockdown. It no longer has full shows, but you can still enjoy various playlists with performances from a range of musicals.

Other subscription-based services include Marquee TV , Stage2View and BroadwayHD.

17. Theatre Podcasts and Radio Stations

If you want to learn even more about a show you’ve just watched, or listen to other theatre fans’ takes on everything stagey, there are lots of podcasts you can subscribe to.

For musical theatre fans, try:

Or if you prefer plays, there are a huge number of illuminating discussions on podcasts such as:

Check the Broadway Podcast Network for more recommendations. You can also enjoy the best of theatre on the radio, with top picks including Elaine Page’s well-loved Radio Two slot on a Sunday afternoon and Radio Four Drama which covers audio adaptations of books and plays.

18. Save Money by Watching a West End Show on Tour

Lots of shows open in other UK cities or on tour before they transfer to the West End, with hit new musicals including Back to the Future and & Juliet both premiering in Manchester. If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on travel and accommodation, check what’s on in towns and cities near you. Tickets at regional venues are often cheaper, or at least better value for money, than the West End as well.

Other shows periodically go on tour whilst still in the West End, or after closing in London. Yet more return for UK tours time and time again such as The Rocky Horror Show, Blood Brothers and Dreamgirls.

Seasonal London Theatre PromotionsOfficial London Theatre Kids Week

Official London Theatre New Year Sale

London Theatre Week
Helpful Social Media PagesMusical Theatre Appreciation Society

All Things West End
Same Day BookingTKTS Booth Online

TheatreMonkey Day Seat Finder
Seating InformationSeatPlan London Venues

Theatremonkey London Venues
Top West End Production GuidesWicked – Apollo Victoria Theatre

Matilda the Musical – Cambridge Theatre

Hamilton – Victoria Palace Theatre

The Lion King – Lyceum Theatre

The Phantom of the Opera – Her Majesty’s Theatre

Les Misérables – Sondheim Theatre

Frozen – Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Mamma Mia! – Novello Theatre

Moulin Rouge! The Musical – Piccadilly Theatre

Only Fools and Horses – Theatre Royal Haymarket

Or view all West End shows

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