Buying on the Day
A great way to save those pennies when purchasing theatre tickets to a show in London is to book them at the last minute. Last minute tickets can be a lot cheaper than those bought in advance because often, theatres like to do away with seats that haven’t yet sold, especially to less popular shows. You can get great deals if you book on the day, and the nearer to the time of the show you book, the cheaper they will be.
Buying tickets at such a last minute is not advised if you are keen on booking great tickets to a particular show, and bear in mind that you may have to compromise on which show to see if you do decide to book at the last minute. This way is great, however, if you do not mind which show you see, and are just looking to see any top West End show for a cheaper price.
The TKTS booth in Leicester Square is great for last minute bargains. Operated by the Society of London Theatre the agency offers discounted tickets for plays and musicals across the West End, and can now even be booked in advance. Availability is different day to day, so it is worth checking online after 11am each morning to see what tickets are on sale. You can buy tickets up to an hour before the performance, so it is perfect for those impulsive trips alone or with friends. Lines are longer at weekends, and tickets are sold on a first come first served basis, so it is always worth getting there early for the most popular shows. Make sure you study the electronic boards before you get to the window and know exactly what you want to see, along with some alternatives if your first choice is not available. Check out http://www.tkts.co.uk/ for full information.
As is mentioned in the Student/Under 26 page, returns can often be bought from the theatre’s box office, from people who have cancelled their orders at the last minute. It is worth checking at the theatre on the day to see if there are any returns available at a cheaper price. The National Theatre often do returns and sometimes do status updates on their Facebook page when a large party cancels, enabling lots of tickets to go back on sale, usually for a cheaper price. You have to be quick though, as the National Theatre’s return tickets are usually for sold-out and very popular shows.
Rush Tickets are designed for theatres to sell off their remaining seats to audience members hoping for a bargain. Each theatre operates a different policy, which can change depending on the time of year or day of the week. Off peak performances (Midweek matinees, Monday-Thursday evenings, September-October and January-March) stand the best chance of having Rush Tickets allocated – it often depends on how well a show is selling. Turning up to the box office 45 minutes to half an hour before the performance will give you the best chance of securing these seats – smile politely at the box office worker and ask which seats remain. By this point, agencies should have returned any unsold tickets to the theatre, meaning ‘spare’ seats will become available. Some theatres only offer Rush tickets to concessions such as Students/Senior Citizens, and I.D is required for these purchases.
Play By Play
Play By Play is an organisation which allows its members to see some top London shows for an extremely small service fee of £1-3 per reserved seat, once you have paid their £75 registration fee. Many of their seats are given out at the very last minute, often on the day of the show, so if you like being spontaneous, you are not picky about what you see and you love the theatre, then this may be a great thing to try out. http://www.playbyplay.co.uk/logon.php
Share Your Tips
Do you know of any other ways to get last minute tickets for a bargain price? Got any questions about anything mentioned on this page? Then comment in the box below!