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Are you a theatre lover that would love to know some tips and tricks to get cheap theatre tickets? Perfect! Because this is exactly what this article is about.
It’s entirely possible to get cheap theatre tickets in the UK. Even in central London and for popular shows, there are options!
That having been said, it will require either flexibility or organisation. As long as you don’t mind booking a long time in advance (or on the contrary, booking last minute) and be flexible about the show or seat, you will be able to get plenty of discounts.
Here are a few tips to get cheap theatre tickets in London but also in the rest of the UK!
Table of Contents
Booking in advance
This is the oldest trick in the book, and with good reason!
Theatres often release tickets up to a year in advance. When they first become available, there’s a wide variety of options, making it the best time to secure those affordable seats at the back.
Even London’s top musicals offer tickets for as low as £10 or £15. Many people aren’t aware of these deals because they sell out swiftly, but they do exist.
If you’re thinking of attending a show, check the ticket prices immediately to see what’s available.
This tip is especially true for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’. They release new tickets every quarter, which get snapped up almost instantly!
If you are visiting London, we recommend checking the prices as soon as possible so you can see the options and book in advance.
Compare prices online
There are a lot of website selling theatre tickets in London and the UK.
Different websites will offer different prices. They usually all are about the same price but occasionally, one will have a special offer that will make it worth it.
Same-day release tickets
Many theatres release same-day tickets for their shows. These tickets are often priced as low as £10, even though their value can be as much as £200.
They become available the moment the box office opens, so it’s crucial to arrive early to secure one.
Depending on the show’s popularity, you might consider arriving up to 45 minutes ahead of time. There’s only a limited number of these tickets, and they disappear fast, especially on weekends.
If there’s a specific show you’re targeting, you can check the theatre’s website to see if they offer this deal.
In Manchester, the Exchange Theatre has a daily same-day ticket policy. In London, some venues offer the same, but be prepared for stiff competition. After all, who doesn’t want to catch a musical in London?
If you’re up for an early rise, a bit of queuing, and can handle a dash of uncertainty, this method might be perfect for you!
While there’s no guarantee of securing a ticket, it’s undeniably one of the most affordable ways to see theatre.
PRO TIP: If you’re aiming for a same-day ticket in London, make a beeline for the theatre’s box office. Arrive just before it opens to get ahead of the crowd. Remember, it’s the theatre that releases these tickets, ensuring they have the best last-minute choices.
Of all the suggestions in this article, this one undoubtedly comes with the greatest element of chance. However, if you have a bit of luck, it can result in significant savings, especially for sought-after shows.
Several theatres, especially those hosting blockbuster shows like ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,’ offer ticket lotteries.
The process is straightforward: register online, and every day, the theatre randomly selects a few participants to access last-minute tickets at a minimal cost.
Imagine watching ‘Harry Potter’ for less than £10 through this lottery system!
Indeed, this might be your only shot at grabbing inexpensive tickets for otherwise sold-out performances.
The catch? It’s unpredictable. There’s no telling if or when you’ll be chosen.
Once selected, you typically have about an hour to confirm your interest. Miss that window, and the ticket goes back into the pool. So, it’s crucial to stay alert and act fast.
If catching a West End performance is one of your bucket list items for London, relying solely on this method might be risky.
However, for locals with flexible schedules, it’s a golden opportunity to experience top-tier shows at a fraction of the usual price.
Just like the previous tip, it’s essential to visit the websites of your desired shows or theatres to see if they offer this lottery option.
Last-minute booking at the box office
If you visit the box office a few hours before showtime, inquire about any remaining tickets. If there are available seats, don’t hesitate to ask for a discount! While the thought might feel daunting, there’s a good chance they’ll accommodate your request.
By that time, if seats remain unsold, they essentially represent lost revenue. In the theatre’s mindset, it’s better to earn something rather than nothing. Thus, they might be more inclined to offer a discount.
Selling the tickets even at half price can still be profitable for them since it’s better to get half the money than no money at all.
This strategy tends to work best with matinees and regular shows. It might be less successful for in-demand or nearly sold-out performances.
Remember: if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. The worst outcome? They decline your request, and you carry on as before. Best case? You score an affordable theatre ticket!
This might well be the most overlooked strategy, yet it’s potentially the best one of all.
When visiting the theatre, many of us naturally wish to sit with our friends. However, you might not have realised the hidden cost of this preference.
For theatres, single seats are a real conundrum. They’re notoriously hard to sell, leading to potential revenue loss daily.
As alluded to earlier, earning some revenue is better than none at all. If you suggest buying a single seat at a discounted rate, they’re very likely to agree. Discounts on such seats can be as generous as 80%.
In truth, it’s not always necessary to sit beside your companion during the show, especially when you can catch up during the interval.
To take advantage of this tactic, it’s best to pop over to the box office directly. While they’re usually more amenable to such deals for same-day shows, it’s worth trying in advance as well.
A handy tip is to first scout the seating plan online to pinpoint the available single seats. Note down their numbers and then approach the box office to discuss potential reductions for these specific seats.
Beyond mere savings, this approach is a fantastic way to get tickets for sought-after performances. For instance, ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ in London can be fully booked up to nine months in advance.
Unless you’re prepared to fork out a significant sum per part, you’ll either be awaiting the sporadic release of new tickets or opt for separate seating to access a wider choice of tickets and dates.
Book a performance mid-week
Popping over to the theatre is a bit like most things in life. Everyone’s keen to head there on the weekend. If you’re after a proper bargain, consider catching a show midweek.
Turns out, Tuesdays are often the best days when it comes to cheap theatre tickets in London.
You’ve probably twigged that matinees don’t pull as big a crowd as the evening shows (well, except for Harry Potter), so they’re definitely worth a look.
For a right good deal, target those Tuesday or Wednesday matinees. Grab your tickets online or, if you fancy, head straight to the box office.
Now, if you do rock up to the box office, there’s a chance you can haggle a bit off the top.
But, here’s a nifty trick not everyone’s clued up on: snag the cheapest tickets online, then nip over to the box office to collect them.
While you’re there, ask if they’ve got any fancier seats going spare (chances are they will for these midweek performances). If they do and you are willing to sit separately, you might get extra discounts.
With the curtain nearly up, they’re likely to just want the seat filled. So, go on, give it a whirl – it’s always worth a shot.
Watch the premiere
The first performance of a show is often cheaper than the others. If you want to be able to book whenever you want (although sooner is always better), book a premiere.
Tickets are always cheaper for this one as basically the crew is still kind of training. Premieres usually happen on Tuesdays.
It doesn’t have to be a world premiere of the show but just the premiere of this specific cast.
Obviously, this won’t apply for the famous shows in London as they premiered a long time ago but they are pretty common in regional theatres.
Get an ATG theatre card
Do you go to the theatre more than 3 or 4 times a year? Then getting a theatre card will be the best option for you.
Almost all theatres offer a membership card. The price varies depending on if it’s an independent venue or if it belongs to a big group such as ATG but they are generally under £50.
The ATG membership card will give you access to discounts in all of their theatres in the UK (30+). Some shows aren’t eligible for discounts however, no matter what you will always get booking and transaction fees off (so at least £3.95).
The most popular shows in London West End rarely have offers on but as a general thing, you can get great discounts on all the others. This includes plays, musicals, ballets, conferences…
You can book up to 4 tickets with your card which means that it won’t only save money to you but everyone else coming with you.
Here are some amazing discounts I got this year:
- Amelie the Musical: £16 instead of £40
- & Juliet: £10 instead of £20
- Dirty Dancing: £10 instead of £36
If you go more than 3-4 times a year, it will definitely save you money. And the best thing about it is that you can book all these tickets from the comfort of your home, on the ATG website.
You can buy up to 1 year in advance, anywhere in the UK.
So, are you ready to go see plenty of amazing plays now that you know the best tips to get cheap theatre tickets? Let us know how it goes for you. We also love to get feedback on shows!
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