Being a young Londoner can be expensive before you even begin thinking about luxuries like theatre tickets. Read our handy guide to find the best tips on how to save those precious pennies this Christmas.
Words: Keziah Leary, Subeditors: Tenelle Ottley-Matthew, Julia Tsilman
With the Christmas season starting to creep up on us, it’s time to start thinking about booking festive theatre tickets (unless you’re super organised and you’ve already done it!). But with bank breaking prices to some of London’s top West End shows, how is it that you can afford to get your hands on the tickets to the shows you really want to see? Fear not folks, we’re here to guide you through this stressful process and prevent you from blowing your entire budget!
1. Try On the Day
If you don’t like to plan in advance, getting tickets on the day may be the best idea for you. Many of London’s big theatres offer special reduced prices for day tickets – the only catch is that you have to wake up quite early to get them. All you need to do is find out what time the box office to the show you want to see opens (most are around 10 o’clock) and head over to the theatre about an hour before it does. It can be a bit hit and miss, but if you’re lucky enough then you can save yourself a lot of money. The Book of Mormon works in a slightly different way to other theatres, taking their inspiration from Broadway to offer the public a daily lottery with the prize being front row stalls tickets for just £20, saving yourself a whopping £130!
Come join in the fun on todays Book of Mormon Lottery… pic.twitter.com/0a7wgwaTBX
— Lottery Dude (@MormonLottery) May 2, 2015
2. Shop Around
The most obvious way to shop for tickets is to do a quick Google search and follow the first link. However, if you want to get the most for your money then it’s not quite as simple as that. Have a good sift through a few websites to compare prices before you commit. After all, you wouldn’t settle for the first phone you see in Carphone Warehouse. Instead try websites like cheaptheatretickets or lastminute.com, or even go directly to the theatre – often that way you avoid having to pay administration fees.
3. Go to the TKTS Office in Leicester Square
Buying tickets on the day from the theatre itself is brilliant if you specifically know which show you want to see. However, if you’re not sure what you want to see, your best bet is to try the TKTS Office in Leicester Square. They offer on the day discounts to most West End shows, and even have staff around to give you advice if you’re not sure what you want to watch. Again, make sure you get there early to get the best deals (it opens at 10am, but we’d recommend getting there at least half an hour before that).
4. Be Flexible
So you may really, really want to see Elf the Musical on Saturday 12th December at 7:30pm but, realistically, getting hold of cheap tickets for that specific date is going to be quite tricky. The more flexible you are, the easier it will be for you to find the best deals. Why not have a few dates in mind, and maybe even be flexible with the show you want to see.
5. Go off West End
With such big productions and famous actors on
the West End, it’s easy to forget that there’s so much more to London theatre. Going off West End, whether that’s professional or amateur, can save you lots of money. There’s such a negative stigma attached to amateur dramatics in particular, but the reality is that these shows can actually be miles better than those in the professional theatres. Yes, sometimes you may end up watching a truly terrible show, but at least you won’t have to get out a bank loan to do so. It just takes a bit of exploring to find the really good stuff, but on a budget it’s completely worth it. And plus, who knows, one day you may just end up talent spotting the next Alfie Boe. Try Above the Stag, a cosy theatre tucked under the railway arches at Vauxhall or the Landor, a modern theatre above a pub, or Jermyn Street Theatre, a tiny performance space just off Piccadilly Circus.
6. Be Willing to go Alone
Sometimes finding tickets for your whole family, or even just as a couple, can really limit what’s available to you. Theatres hate it when people book tickets and leave a single seat unoccupied. But to someone trying to find a deal, this can really work in your advantage. If you’re just looking for a single seat, you’re very likely to find yourself with more options, and ultimately spending less. So be brave and go it alone!
7. Stand up
Depending on how desperate you are – and how much you really want to save – you may want to consider standing tickets. Some of the West End’s biggest theatres offer standing tickets at a generously reduced price (because they obviously understand that it’s probably not your first choice of ‘seating’). You may want to consider how long the show is and invest in some comfy footwear before you consider this option. The Globe theatre offers groundling tickets for as little as £5, you’ve just got to hope it doesn’t rain!
8. Take advantage of the fact that you’re young
Both the National Theatre and the Barbican Centre offer special membership for under 25 year olds. Not only that, but they are completely FREE to join. Yep, grab that while you can because you don’t get much for free in London! With membership, the National Theatre offers a limited amount of tickets to their shows for £5 and you can take along a friend for £7.50. The Barbican Centre offers £5, £10 and £15 tickets to their events, so make the most of being young while you can. And fear not, if you’re over 25, the Royal Opera House offers cheap tickets for most of their shows available to everyone, regardless of age. So go and see a ballet or opera for prices starting at under £10 for most performances.