London is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s great cultural centres and, with dozens of venues where you can see live drama, its theatres draw in huge international audiences each year.
From Theatreland in the West End (where the first playhouse opened 350 years ago) to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the South Bank of the Thames, to the Barbican, to countless other smaller settings, London offers unrivalled choice. And the shows on offer are as varied as the locations. Take your pick from comedy, drama, thrillers, opera, ballet or long-running musical theatre.
So it’s no wonder that for many visitors to the city, whether they’re in town on business or for pleasure, even with so many other amazing things to do in London
, no trip would be complete without taking in a show.
And if you reckoned London theatre had to cost a fortune, think again. Especially if you plan ahead, a dramatic experience could be a lot more affordable than you realised.
- Going to a matinee on a Wednesday or Saturday rather than an evening performance can save money
- Book your tickets weeks or even months in advance - or take your chances at the last minute
- Discounts are often available for students, those with disabilities and group bookings
- If you are flexible about what you see, and where you sit, and are prepared to risk being disappointed, you can make big savings
There are several ways to reserve your seats. Leicester Square in the West End has discount ticket booths, while theatre box offices also sometimes sell off unsold tickets an hour before curtain up at the standby 70% discounted rate, particularly for senior citizens, the unemployed and students.
There’s not usually a booking fee from theatre box offices if you make your reservation in person. One tip, however, is to make sure you are not trying to do this an hour before a performance as theatre staff are likely to be busy then.
Of course, with these options, although you’ll probably get to see something, and you may well love it, you could end up seeing something which was not your first choice.
For guaranteed availability, and for the best deals, book as far ahead as you can, and book online. But it may be worth being flexible and having a couple of show options and dates in mind.
Just some of the highlights to look forward to this year include Sheridan Smith and David Walliams in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in September, Jude Law as Henry V in November and Kristin Scott Thomas and Rufus Sewell in Harold Pinter’s Old Times.
A Chorus Line opens at the Palladium in February, as James McAvoy takes the lead in Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is on at Drury Lane, while Helen Mirren will be reprising her role as Queen Elizabeth in Peter Morgan’s The Audience.
Not all London theatre is indoors! This summer, there are open air treats in store at Regent’s Park, including much-loved stories including Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and The Sound of Music, along with short runs of a new take on Pride and Prejudice and a children’s version of The Winter’s Tale.
With so much to look forward to and so many ways to enjoy London theatre affordably - what are you waiting for?
London, Theatre, Shows, Plays, Musicals, Tickets