Our guide to London theatre – in particular for the West End, but also a mention of a few selected Off West End venues that have accessible public transport close by. There are over 40 West End theatres and over 100 Off West End venues in London.
London West End
Trust: First and foremost is to be able to trust the ticket supplier that is providing you with tickets. Some people find a convenient, reliable, and trustworthy ticket supplier (or two) and stick with them.
STAR: To make sure you are buying a valid ticket, buy from a STAR member or one of their affiliates – STAR operate within guidelines supported by the Office of Fair Trading. (STAR-Society of Ticket Agents & Retailers)
DISCOUNTS: Many theatre ticket websites offer discounted tickets. Ticket offers often vary from week to week and you can search for these online or sign-up for Special Offer Newsletters.
CONTACT INFORMATION: Book tickets from websites where there are contact details, such as an email address, telephone number, or social media account displayed – you need information readily available. When you book tickets, you need to know your booking is confirmed. If you haven’t received a confirmation of the booking in your email inbox – you need to be able to contact someone if you need to.
OFFICIAL WEBSITES: An official website is probably the best ‘baseline’ for finding what tickets are available and at what prices. They may not be the cheapest, but they do give you an idea what price you could buy at, and what the availability is like. List of official websites is here.
Some websites have been designed to look like an official West End theatre website (and there are quite a few online), but if it is not on the list – then it is NOT likely to be an official West End theatre website. Somewhere on the website, it should say “official website”.
TICKETS ON THE DAY: If you don’t want to book online or by telephone, and are happy to buy tickets on the day of a show in London – you can get a range of discounted tickets from the ticket booth in Leicester Square. TKTS is run by the Society of London Theatre on behalf of the theatre industry. Open Monday to Saturday 10.00am to 7.00pm and Sunday 11.00am to 4.30pm. At the time of writing, the tickets on offer were for today and the next two days.
DISCOUNTED TICKETS: Search with your ticket supplier or elsewhere online to see if there are discounted tickets available for your chosen show(s) and not just the cheaper seats. At times there are bargains or special offers. Theatres and ticket suppliers may change what is on offer from one day, or one week to the next. There are also ‘Flash Sales’ or ‘special Offers’, which may be for a day or two only. Watch out for these as at times you can save quite a lot of money. The top-selling shows may not give discounted tickets on a regular basis, as they don’t need to, and some shows may rarely (and possibly never) give discounts.
DAY SEATS: Day Seats or Day Tickets (from the actual theatres) are an option to get lower priced tickets – the seats available can vary from one production to another. Day Seats are a limited number of cheaper tickets on the day of the performance. A variation of this can be a ‘Daily Lottery’. While you can usually arrive on the day to queue for day tickets, it has been known for people to start queuing overnight in order to get a ticket – especially for a very popular show!
GROUP BOOKINGS: Most shows will offer a discount if you make a group booking. The number to qualify for a group booking discount may vary, but is typically in the region of 10 or more.
TICKET CONCESSIONS: Many shows offer ‘concessions’ and it may be worth looking at these to see if you are eligible.
London West End Theatres
SEATING PLANS: A question often asked is “where is the best place to sit?” You could ask 100 people where they like to sit when they go to see a particular show and you are very likely to get many different answers. Generally speaking, the best seats in an auditorium are within 4-12 (as a guideline) rows from the front of the stage in the stalls, and in the centre – and these are also likely to be the most expensive or premium seats. Some people prefer the Dress Circle, Royal Circle (or similar name) in order to get a view ‘looking down’ towards the stage. Where you sit is a personal choice that may also depend on your budget. In terms of actual seating, many of the London West End theatres were built more than 100 years ago and were not always built for comfort. If you have any personal requirements then email or telephone the ticket agent, or the theatre. Where you sit and which show you go to see is a personal choice. View seating plans for West End theatres here.
PREVIEWS: Some productions offer reduced prices for shows when they are in the ‘preview period’ before the official Opening Night. In a lot of cases, the show is unlikely to change very much and some good ticket deals can be obtained during previews.
WHEN TO BOOK?: Booking when tickets first become available can be a good thing. Also, in some cases booking in advance can get you great seats and good prices. That is IF there aren’t suddenly discounted tickets for the show that later come up on offer. You have to make a personal judgement on this one as there is no hard and fast rule.
Selected Off-West End, London and Fringe Venues
Brockley Jack Theatre
410 Brockley Rd, London SE4 2DH
207 Upper St, London N1 1RL
King’s Head Theatre
115 Upper St, London N1 1QN
Battersea Arts Centre
Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TN
New Wimbledon Theatre
93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QG
Little Green, Richmond TW9 1QJ
Rose Theatre Kingston
24-26 High St, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1HL
High St, Bromley BR1 1HA