Do you love taking the kids to the theatre, but the thought of London ticket prices brings you out in a cold sweat? Family Traveller has the answer.
Nothing beats the excitement of treating the family to a West End show, but sadly many parents are put off by the thought of astronomical tickets prices.
We’re here to let you in on a secret: London theatre tickets don’t have to cost the earth… if you know where to look. Here are 13 clever ways to see the shows you and the kids have been dreaming of, at a fraction of the normal price.
Bookmark a discount website
These are great for getting substantial discounts to shows in the West End, as well as other larger London theatres. Our favourite is encoretickets.co.uk. You can also try ticketmaster.co.uk, lastminute.com and londontheatredirect.com
Buy a tickets package
Amazingly, you can end up paying less for a tickets that come with a restaurant or hotel package than for the tickets alone! Plus, the hotel will inevitably be close to the threatre and the restaurant will be experts at getting you in and out in time for your show. Find great deals at encoretickets.co.uk and lastminute.com
Check out the show’s official website
It’s well worth digging around on the website and social network pages for the show you want to see. You can find great offers hidden under the ‘booking information’ or ‘news’ sections.
Head to the box office
Buy your tickets from the theatre box office and you’ll save on booking fees. Box offices are usually open Monday-Saturday, 10am–8pm and it’s worth heading to the box office early on in the day, to avoid the rush that happens towards the end of the day.
Buy your tickets on the day
Many of the West End’s big shows release tickets on the day of performance at a cheap rate, from the box office only. Remember though, cheap seats aren’t guaranteed to be great seats!
Get in line at the TKTS booth
Undoubtedly the best booth in London is the TKTS Half Price Theatre Ticket Booth. Check out tkts.co.uk to find out what will be available up to two days in advance. You can find tickets for half price, plus a £3 booking fee per seat. The booth is the large white building with the clock tower in Leicester Square, open Monday to Saturday 9am to 7pm; Sunday from 10.30am until 4pm. The queue forms from around an hour before opening in summer, about half an hour in winter and the best tickets will be gone within the first 15 minutes. The booth accepts cash and cards – but no arguing on seat locations!
Avoid the phone
Booking tickets by phone – either at the theatre or ticket agency – will incur a booking fee, which are often more than they will be online.
Brave a preview
Virtually every show will have reduced price previews prior to opening night. The production will still be a work-in-progress, but think of this as a great way for kids to learn about the creative process! The first few preview performances can be as low as £5 a ticket, but obviously the later the preview show, the closer it’s likely to be to the finished article.
See a midweek matinee
Weekday afternoon tickets tend to be the cheapest, and are a great option for families with pre-school children.
Choose box office collection
If you book through the theatre, rather than a ticket agency, choose to collect your tickets on the night, rather than have them posted. Occasionally, you’ll find you get a nice surprise at the box office, as staff can upgrade tickets on a quiet evening.
Find kid’s deals
Register at Gr8tx to find some great deals for kids.
Kids aged 5-16 go free to West End shows for the last two weeks in August each year for Kid’s Week. The under 5s can join in too, with an exclusive programme of shows for little ones. The ticket deal is simple: For every full paying adult, one child goes free and up to two additional children go at half-price.
Join the club
Newspapers including the Times, Guardian and Telegraph run theatre clubs for free or for a small membership, where you’ll enjoy first dibs on special offers.
Use your points
Check your supermarket loyalty cards – often points are exchangeable for theatre deals. If you are an Oyster card holder, check tfl.gov.uk for cheap tickets.
Join up with another family for your theatre trip. Often a group of 10+ can save 50% when you book a group ticket through the theatre.