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 the UK!
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Booking in advance
This is the oldest one in the book and that for a reason!
Theatre release tickets up to 1 year in advance. When they first do so, all sorts of tickets will be available, that’s the best time to grab those cheap tickets at the back.
Even the best musicals in London have tickets for £10 or £15. Most people don’t even know it because they can be snatched quite quickly but they are there.
If you are planning on going to see a show. Check the prices right away so see what is available.
This advice is particularly valid for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. They release tickets every quarter and those will be gone in no time!
Compare prices online
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
Most theatres release a set of tickets for shows on the same day. They are generally as cheap as £10 (even though they can be worth up to £200).
They will be available as soon as the box office opens which means that you have to make sure to be there early to be able to grab your ticket.
Depending on how popular the show is, you may want to go up to 45min early as there is only a certain number of tickets released and they will be gone very quickly, especially during the weekend.
If you have a special show in mind, you can check on the theatre’s website if this is something they do.
In Manchester, for example, the Exchange theatre does it every day. In London, some venues do as well but the competition will be fierce. Everyone wants to see a musical in London.
If you are willing to get up early, queue and don’t mind the uncertainty, then this is for you!
Although there is no guarantee you will manage to grab your ticket, it’s definitely as cheap as theatre tickets can get!
If you want to grab a same-day ticket in London, head to the theatre box office directly. Get there a bit before the opening so you beat the crowds. The theatre is the one that releases these tickets so they will always have the best last-minute options.
I wouldn’t recommend going to one of the booths in Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. They might have tickets for all shows in London but they rarely get the best prices.
They come handy when you don’t have a specific show in mind and want to see what’s available for various shows.
From all the tips in this article, this is for sure the one with the most uncertain outcome but if you are lucky then it will represent tremendous savings on very popular shows.
Some theatres with very popular shows such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child offer ticket lotteries.
Basically, you need to sign up online and every day they will randomly pick a few people that will get access to last-minute released tickets for a very small fee.
You can get to see Harry Potter for less than £10 with the ticket lottery!
It’s pretty much the only way to get very cheap tickets for sold-out shows.
However, it’s very unreliable. You don’t know if and when you will be selected.
You will be given about 1 hour to confirm. If you don’t, the ticket is released again. This means you have to keep an eye on your phone and be quick.
If you are planning to travel to London and really want to see a West End show, I would not recommend this option. If you live in London and therefore can go anytime, then this is a great option! You can get to see amazing shows for almost nothing.
As for the previous option, you need to check out the website of the shows or theatres you are interested in to see if that’s something they offer.
Last-minute booking at the box office
If you go to the box office on the same day (ideally a couple of hours before the show), you can ask them if they still have some tickets available. If yes, then ask them for a discount! I know it might make you a bit uncomfortable but chances are that they will agree and just give you a discount.
The thing is, at that point, if they still have some seats available, they know they won’t be sold. This means these seats are dead money. And if you’re not going to make anything, you might as well make a little. That’s the way they will think and generally will offer a discount.
Even if they sell the tickets at half price, it will still be worth it for them.
This works particularly well on matinees and “normal” shows. It might not work on very popular or almost sold-out shows.
If you don’t try it, you won’t get it! The worse thing that can happen is them to say no and you just keep doing what you were doing before that. Best case scenario, you get a cheap theatre ticket!
This is probably the most overlooked technique and yet the best. When we go to the theatre, we always want to sit together. Well, you might not have realised but this costs you way more than you thought.
Single seats are a nightmare for theatres because they know they will never sell them but yet they have to deal with plenty of them each day. This is making them lose a lot of money every day.
Exactly as explained in point 3, a bit of money is better than no money. If you offer to book a single seat for a discounted price, they will most likely say yes. You can get up to an 80% discount on these seats.
When you think about it, most of the time you don’t need to be seated next to the person you’re going with. And you can still meet up for the break.
In order to book these seats with discounts, you have to go to the box office and ask them. They will generally do it without second thoughts for a show on the same day but you can try it in advance too. If you go on the website and check the seats available (like if you were about to book seats), you’ll be able to see the single seats. Note the number and then go to the box office to ask if you could get a better price for booking this or these seats.
Regardless of the price, it’s also a great technique to get access to tickets. For example, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London can be sold out up to 9 months in advance. Unless you’re willing to pay £100 per part, you won’t be able to book and will have to be ready as soon as they release new tickets (one every 3 months). If you chose to sit separately, you will get access to all kinds of tickets and dates.
Book a performance mid-week
Going to the theatre is like everything else. Everyone wants to go on the weekend. If you want to get the best prices, book a show in the middle of the week. Tuesdays are usually the cheapest days at the theatre.
You will also notice that matinees aren’t as popular as evening shows (except for Harry Potter), so they are worth looking into as well.
To get the best prices, aim for the matinee on Tuesday or Wednesday. You can book them online or go to the box office.
If you go to the box office, you might even be able to negotiate a discount straight away. However, here is another (lesser known) technique. Buy the cheapest tickets available online and go picking them up at the box office. Once you are there, ask them if have any better seats available (they always will for these mid-week shows) and try to get an upgrade for free or a little fee.
At this point, the show is just about to start so they usually don’t mind giving it for free or a couple of pounds. It’s always worth trying!
Go to see the premiere
The first performance of a show is always 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
ADo 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 discount 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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