London’s West End is one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic theatre scenes. Boasting more than 50 theatres, offering a mix of heart-rending musicals, epic musicals, hard-hitting drama, and untapped amateur gems, the West End is a veritable mecca for theatre enthusiasts worldwide.
Perhaps the one downside is the ticket prices. London is notoriously expensive, and the theatre is no different. However, happily there are a number of tips and tricks to ensure you get the best deal.
One of the best ways to save money is to attend a preview show. Many productions put on preview performances ahead of their official opening, and tickets are often on sale at substantially lower rates. These previews are designed to give the cast an opportunity to acclimatise to a live audience. Consequently, the shows may be a little ‘rough around the edges’ , but this can merely add to their authentic appeal. You can snap up premier tickets by contacting theatres or ticket agencies directly.
Another trick of the trade is to pick up tickets on the day of the performance. These tickets are often discounted and are available from ticket booths at select points across London including ticket booths in Leicester Square and at Canary Wharf DLR station. The benevolent souls who make these fantastic deals possible are the Society of London theatres, who simply hate to see empty seats. Tickets of this kind are generally sold at a 50% discount.
Whilst ticket agencies are often the quickest and most efficient way of securing theatre seats, you also need to pay for the privilege in the shape of service charges and postal costs. These can see your costs shoot up and make what originally seemed like an affordable cost begin to appear prohibitive. One answer is to by-pass these agencies and go straight to the theatre box office. Simply find out which venue the respective show you want to see is playing at, and buy your tickets direct. Despite London theatre performances taking place in the afternoon and evenings, most box offices are open from the morning.
Another cunning ploy for keeping your costs down is to book as part of a group. Most theatres offer cheaper deals for group bookings. To find out which, visit the box office and request more details, since minimum group sizes and rates of discount vary depending on the show.
Finally, if you’re planning on more than one London threatre trip over the course of time, you should consider joining clubs and mailing lists. There are a number of groups that offer special deals and discounts. Many ticket agencies similarly have mailing lists with regular news from the theatre world as well as ticket discounts.
Paul Joseph is a London-based writer and author. He has written for national magazines and newspapers including the Independent. He also writes for a blog called theatres.tv, which offers information and tips about London theatre.
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