Updated: Jan 19
Last updated 25 July 2022. A list of 25 tried-and-tested ways to get cheap theatre tickets in London. Arranged in increasing order of the average price per ticket. Including 10+ ways to get tickets for £10 or less!
Theatre Bee has saved more than £1000 in less than a year on theatre tickets by relentlessly hunting for discounts. Don't believe Bee? Check out the bee's savings tracker which documents every pound saved on every show the bee has gone to this past year, and the source of the saving. This is how much the bee has saved so far:
You too can save hundreds, even thousands if you're a regular theatre-goer, using the tips on this page. These tips have worked for the bee and the bee can personally vouch for them.
Please note that this list does not include concession schemes for students or people in specific age groups. It also does not talk about postcode based discounts, discounts for disabilities and such. To be sure, there are considerable savings possible with these concessions and discounts. However, they apply only to a select group of people, and Theatre Bee wanted to put together a list of tips and tricks that could work for absolutely anyone.
1. Watch theatre online on Scenesaver and BroadwayHD | £0 per ticket
Scenesaver, a completely free of cost theatre streaming site, offers hundreds of pre-recorded shows that you can stream from home. The site focuses on fringe and Off West End theatre, but there are also a number of foreign-language shows, including productions for kids. You need to register on the site with your email address, but you don't have to pay a penny.
For Broadway fans, the US based website BroadwayHD lets you stream hundreds of Broadway show recordings. Strictly speaking, streaming is not free, but they offer a free 7 day trial so you can catch a couple of shows before your trial expires. You do have to register an account and put in your payment details. If you don't want to keep the subscription, you should remember to cancel before your seven day trial ends.
Original Theatre Online is another repository of theatre productions, some of which are available to stream for free, but most of which you have to pay for on a per-show basis (around £20 on average).
The bee is not particularly fond of watching theatre online through a screen, but given that it is one of the cheapest ways to access the theatre, this list would have been incomplete without a mention of online theatre.
2. Become a seat filler | £4 per ticket
When a theatre has vacant seats to spare, seat-filling agencies are often asked to discreetly fill up performances. The agency then sends out an alert to all its members to let them know a show has come up. These seats are available either free or for a tiny fraction of the full price of the ticket. The only catch is you may or may not get to choose where you want to sit.
The bee is a proud member of Central Tickets because it is completely free to join. Every day, they send out a mailer with 100+ listings that you can book, including plays, musicals, concerts, comedy, walks and talks, cinema and more. They charge anywhere from £4 to £15 per booking to cover their costs of providing this service. The bee has been able to go to West End shows for as little as £6 a ticket! Theatre Bee explains seat filling arrangements in detail here.
Besides Central Tickets, there are other seat-filling agencies to consider. Some charge a monthly or annual membership fee, while others charge per booking. You may want to check out Audience Club, OTL, Play By Play, although the bee's recommendation is always Central Tickets as it is made for London, has a large list of shows, is free to join and completely transparent.
3. Watch a Pay What You Can production | £5 per ticket
The bee estimates the price at £5 per ticket because that's the average that people seem to pay for pay-what-you-can shows, but you are of course entitled to pay as much or as little as you want.
There are two theatres the bee is aware of in London that currently offer a pay what you can scheme.
Arcola Theatre reserves a quota of pay what you can tickets for Tuesday evening performances. Unfortunately, these tickets cannot be purchased online. They are only available in person from 6 pm on the night of the performance. You may have to queue up, and there is no guarantee that a ticket would still be available when you get your turn because tickets are sold first-come-first-served.
Battersea Arts Centre also runs a selection of pay what you can performances. To help you with the decision of how much to pay, they provide a recommended price on the booking page, based on what they would traditionally charge for the ticket you choose. The minimum payment you can make is £6 per ticket, which is the price of their lowest full-priced ticket.
4. Be a groundling at Shakespeare's Globe | £5 per ticket
Are you okay to stand in the yard for three hours, come rain or sun? What if you can get the best possible view of the stage from your spot? You can be a groundling at Shakespeare's Globe for just £5 a ticket.
A groundling is an audience member at the Shakespeare’s Globe who stands in the yard to watch the play (instead of sitting in the galleries). Why should you give up the comfort of a nice warm seat and brave the elements on your feet for over three hours? First, groundling tickets cost only £5. Even the worst of the seated tickets (with a hundred obstructions in your view) cost at least £25. Second, you get the BEST views of the stage as a groundling. Read about the bee’s experience as a groundling here.
If you do decide to watch a play from the yard, remember to 1) check the weather and carry layers/umbrellas/hats as needed, 2) wear comfortable standing-friendly shoes, and 3) choose a good spot to stand as it’ll be difficult to move about once the play begins.
Further, make sure you book directly on the Globe website to get the best possible price. The bee has seen TodayTix sell standing tickets for £8 when it is only £5 on the Globe website.
5. Watch a preview performance at The Young Vic | £5 per ticket
The Young Vic theatre in Waterloo sells every ticket for its first preview performance at the Main House for just £5 per ticket. That's right, the entire house, every single seat, £5. The catch is this price applies to only one evening - the first ever preview of a new production. Naturally, the first day preview show is almost always sold out unless you book months - yes months - in advance.
If you can plan months ahead, just head to The Young Vic's website, choose a show that's set to open a few months later, click 'Book Now' and select the first ever performance in the list. If you're lucky, you can get a wonderful seat for just £5.
6. Get a Lucky Dip or under-25 or student ticket to The Young Vic | £10 per ticket
The Young Vic Theatre offers guaranteed standing tickets for £10 for every show, called 'Lucky Dip' tickets. It is called a 'Lucky Dip' because some of the lucky standing ticket holders may get upgraded to a seat for free, and sometimes the seats could be the absolute best in the house.
Lucky Dip holders are not allocated a position, which means you will not know exactly which gallery, height or angle you will be watching the performance from, at the time of booking your ticket. In fact, you won't even know whether you will be standing or get upgraded to a seat until just before the start of the performance, at the discretion of the box office staff. Moreover, if you are going as a couple or group, there is no guarantee that you will all be positioned together.
Further, if you're either under 25 years of age, or a full-time student (or both), you may be able to get £10 tickets. The bee, personally, has never been successful in getting one of these tickets. They are limited in number and have to be booked in advance. Well in advance. The bee thinks you are more likely to win with the Lucky Dip. To see if Lucky Dip tickets are available for any show, visit the individual production webpage on The Young Vic's website.
7. Watch a National Theatre production | £10 per ticket
Every Friday at 1 PM the National Theatre releases 'Friday Rush' tickets for just £10 for shows in the coming week. Theatre Bee has secured excellent stalls seats for this price for amazing shows like Small Island, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Corn is Green, and The Father and The Assassin. Ten pounds, no booking fees, no hidden charges, nothing. Bookmark the National Theatre's Friday Rush page. For a step-by-step guide to get the best stalls seats, read the bee's guide to NT rush tickets. Got to love Fridays.
8. Watch an Almeida Theatre production | £10 per ticket
Almeida Theatre releases 'rush tickets' every Tuesday at 1 pm for performances the following week. Tickets are sold online on the Almeida website only on a first-come-first-served basis. Bookmark the Almeida Rush page and make the most of your Tuesday afternoons!
Besides, Almeida Theatre has a number of seats that it tends to advertise as restricted view, but in the bee's experience, those seats are not bad at all for the price. The bee is personally fond of Stalls seat E25 and F11, which are generally available for just £10 (even without the rush discount), and is amazingly close to the stage. Thank you, Almeida Theatre, for making Tuesdays fun again.
9. Enter the theatre ticket lottery for Hamilton | £10 per ticket
Hamilton the musical runs a lottery every week to give out tickets for just £10. Download the TodayTix app on your smartphone, find Hamilton and you will see a button to get you into the lottery. Entries for each draw open at 12.01 am on Fridays and close at 1 pm the following Thursday. The draw happens later Thursday afternoon, and you will receive an email from TodayTix by Thursday evening to tell you whether you won or lost.
Each draw is for the chance to purchase either one or two £10 Lottery tickets for any performance the following week. If you win, you will have 30 minutes to get on the TodayTix app and book either one or two £10 tickets to Hamilton. The bee has entered this lottery relentlessly every week for the past year, but it has never been successful. The bee has, however, won the Cabaret, Harry Potter and ALW's Cinderella lotteries, so it feels that these lotteries are not altogether un-winnable. Make of that what you will.
There are other lotteries in London - Cabaret, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Moulin Rouge, Matilda, Phantom of the Opera etc. The bee discusses these lotteries later in the post, when it gets to the £25 per ticket section. We are still in the £10 per ticket part of this post, yay!
10. Watch a preview performance at The Old Vic | £10 per ticket
The Old Vic Theatre sells at least half the tickets for the first five performances of each new production for just £10. These tickets are called 'PwC £10 previews' tickets. The bee has previously been able to get stellar stalls seats for this price. To find out when tickets go on sale for a new production, it might be worthwhile to sign up for The Old Vic newsletter.
Note that there is a special newsletter to notify you of these PwC £10 preview tickets going on sale, and this is different from the regular newsletter of The Old Vic. The bee recommends you sign up for both so that you never miss a sale.
To sign up, you will need to create an account on The Old Vic's website. Then, click on your 'account' icon on the top right corner to visit your account page. Find 'Mailing Options' on the left sidebar to set your email preferences. Make sure you tick the box that says "Be the first to find out when PwC £10 Preview tickets go on sale for each show — at least half of all seats are priced at £10 for the first five previews of every production."
11. Wait for the Official London Theatre Sale | £10 per ticket
Official London Theatre, a non-profit association of West End theatres, runs two big sale events every year when you can get tickets to top West End shows for as little as £10.
They have run a New Year Sale since 2001, offering tickets at £10, £20, £30, £40 and £50, with no booking, transaction or postage fees to pay. Tickets usually go on sale early December for performances the following January and February. A lot of West End staple plays and musicals participate in the sale.
In 2022, they ran an extension of the new year sale, called Show Time sale. In principle, it is similar to the New Year Sale in that tickets to West End shows are offered at £10, £20, £30, £40 and £50, only that the sale runs in the spring, starting March for shows through April.
To stay on top of these sale events, you might want to subscribe to the Official London Theatre's newsletter. Theatre Bee will, of course, post the dates on this site too.
12. Watch a Royal Court production on Monday | £12 per ticket
The Royal Court Theatre has a long standing tradition of offering cheap tickets on Mondays. In fact, they don't allow you to book tickets for any Monday performance before 9 am on the day. These tickets are all reserved for the Monday sale (except for a handful of tickets they release to their Friends and Supporters in advance).
Every Monday at 9 am sharp, Royal Court releases tickets for that evening's performance on their website (and only their website). Bookmark the Royal Court Monday Tickets page and grab your tickets on Monday. It may help you save time and complete your booking fast (before that coveted seat slips away to someone else) if you create an account before the ticket sale begins.
The bee has heard that the competition can be pretty tight for some shows, but the bee's personal experience has been quite pleasant. It has tried to get Monday tickets twice in 2022, once for The Glow and once for That Is Not Who I Am, and it has been successful both times. Long live £12 Mondays!
13. Watch Off West End and fringe theatre | £12 per ticket
London has hundreds - yes hundreds - of independent, alternative or fringe theatre venues, including pub theatres. Fringe theatres don't charge as much as the larger, more established theatres. For example, The Drayton Arms Theatre - one of the bee's favourites for catching a quirky, off-the-beaten-track type of play - offers standard tickets for just £12 per ticket. If you qualify for a concession, the price is still lower.
Some of the bee's best experiences of London theatre have happened in the fringe. Who knows, something you're watching in the fringe might go on to become a West End staple some day! But given that there are hundreds of venues and thousands of fringe productions listed across these venues, it can be daunting to figure out what to watch in the fringe. The bee has three tips for you.
One, the website OffWestEnd gives you a thorough listing of the venues with their current and future performances, and their prices. The best part is that you can apply a price filter when you search for shows. Depending on your budget, you can look for shows that cost under £15 (sometimes even under £10).
Two, OffWestEnd also organises the Offies awards to recognise the best of Off West End Theatre. The official Offies website is a good place to look up award-winning fringe theatre productions to watch.
Finally, Everything Theatre is a theatre reviews publication that specialises in fringe theatre in particular. It is a great place to read reviews of fringe shows in London as well as the rest of the UK.
14. Watch a Southwark Playhouse production | £12 per ticket
The Southwark Playhouse operates a pay-as-you-go subscription which makes you pay £60 upfront for a balance of 5 tickets which can be used for any of their shows. That works out to £12 per ticket.
The tickets don't have a time limit and never expire, so you can in principle keep them for the rest of your life. No compulsion to redeem them within the year or some such. The only catch is that you cannot use more than two of your ticket balance per performance. Further details about the subscription are available on the Southwark Playhouse's Pay As You Go Subscription page.
15. Watch To Kill A Mockingbird with a 'rush' or 'all rise' ticket | £15 per ticket
To Kill A Mockingbird is the bee's absolute favourite play at the West End. Regular tickets for this spectacular production can be as high as £50 for even an upper circle seat, so it is definitely one of the pricier shows at the West End.
Fortunately, TodayTix runs a rush ticket scheme that can get you exceptional seats for just £15 per ticket. Tickets go on sale on the TodayTix app (you need the app, the website alone won't do) at 10 am in the morning for the same day's evening performance. If you are on the To Kill A Mockingbird page of the app exactly at 10 am and if you're quick with your fingers, you might just land a couple of stalls seats!
It is not easy to land a good seat, because this is a popular West End show with tremendous demand. But it is not impossible either. The bee would not be writing about this if the bee had not personally been successful at getting £15 tickets, and it has. It got to watch the show from the front row. Magical experience! Rush to TodayTix now!
TodayTix also gives out what is called 'all rise' tickets. Each month, a limited number of seats are made available at £15 each for the following month’s performances of To Kill a Mockingbird in London. For whatever reason, TodayTix is not communicating clearly about exactly when these tickets will be released each month, as you can see from their 'how to book all rise seats' page. At best, the bee is able to glean that one must be constantly checking the TodayTix app for these mysterious 'all rise' seats to suddenly pop up. The bee has never seen it, and the bee opens the TodayTix app every day. The bee recommends trying for day seats instead of waiting on these all rise tickets, whatever they are.
16. Get rush tickets on TodayTix | £25 per ticket
If you're okay to spend around £25 per ticket and you're okay with last-minute tickets, in fact same-day tickets, you might just land a great stalls seat through TodayTix rush sale. Be on the app at 10 am sharp, which is when rush sale goes live for the day.
A number of West End shows participate in the TodayTix rush ticket sale. A list is available on the TodayTix site page for rush tickets. A minority of shows sell day seats on their own official websites, but the vast majority operate their day seat sale through TodayTix. For a useful guide to current West End shows' day seat policies, both through TodayTix and other means, see Theatremonkey's day seat finder.
The bee has been able to get spectacular stalls seats to some of the most iconic plays and musicals in London, including Come From Away, Back To The Future, Six, Straight Line Crazy, The Glass Menagerie and The Book of Mormon.
The bee will admit it is not a cakewalk to get a TodayTix rush ticket to a sell-out show. For example, the bee tried for several days to get a ticket to The Book of Mormon unsuccessfully, and the bee does not think it is a coincidence that the day it eventually got its tickets was a day of tube strikes. And heavy rain. The bee had to walk to the theatre and back, lugging along an umbrella that kept inverting in the wind. Similarly, Six the musical was not easy to get rush tickets for.
However, the rest of the shows were fairly easy to get rush tickets to. In fact, for a couple of them, the bee did not even need to be on the app at 10 am. It managed to get these tickets much later in the day. What's more, the bee has seen shows selling rush tickets all the way through 5 pm in the afternoon for a 7:30 pm show. So TodayTix is an absolute must-have for any theatre goer.
17. Get a Disney Magical Mondays ticket | £25 per ticket
Disney Magical Monday offers tickets for participating Disney shows in London - currently Frozen and The Lion King for £25. Visit the page on Mondays at 12 noon sharp for that week's performances. You will need to create an account on the site. Don't worry, it's free. Just make sure to create your account before 12 noon so that you are ready to grab your tickets as soon as they are released.
18. Theatre ticket lotteries | £25 per ticket
Theatre Bee never books tickets to a show that has a lottery until it has lost the lottery enough times to know it is pretty much un-winnable.
A theatre ticket lottery is a digital lottery run by a few shows - both plays and musicals - in London to give out great seats at discounted prices to a few lucky winners. Most West End ticket lotteries are free to enter and if you win, they let you buy tickets for a fraction of their face value. You wind up paying just as much as you would for a bad seat (like an upper circle corner seat with restricted view), except that you get to watch in style from the stalls!
If you win, you usually get a time window to buy great seats for cheap, £25 usually. In fact, the bee loves the lotteries so much that it has a whole dedicated page on them. For a full list of current lotteries and how easy or difficult they are to win, and the bee's own track record with these lotteries, here is the bee's guide to lotteries.
And for a little inspiration, here is a screenshot of one of the bee's recent lottery wins!
19. Discount events | £10-35 per ticket
London theatre discounts to mark on your calendar! Before you book your theatre ticket, it might be worthwhile to check the list below to see if you are in the middle of, or close to, a major discount event. The bee cannot tell you exact sale dates as they tend to change from year to year, but you can use the clickable links below to visit the sites and check for yourself.
If you are looking for a show-specific discount, always google 'exclusive sale' and ‘exclusive offer’ followed by the name of your show for good measure to be absolutely sure you are not missing out on a sale anywhere.
Best time of the year for cheap theatre tickets? December through March.
Official London Theatre's New Year Sale — for shows in Jan-Feb, bookings open early Dec but run through most of Jan, gets you discounted tickets for £10, £20, £30, £40, £50. Available at the Official London Theatre site only.
Official London Theatre's Show Time Sale — for shows in Feb-Mar, bookings open early Feb, gets you discounted tickets for £10, £20, £30, £40, £50. Available at the Official London Theatre site only.
London Theatre Week — runs Feb-Mar, lasts a couple of weeks, run by most of the big third-party ticket sites including TodayTix.
TodayTix 25 for 25 — runs for a couple of weeks in May, with 25 West End shows selling great seats including stalls seats for £25 pp.
Summer Theatre Sale — runs end of May through July for a week or so, run by most of the big third-party ticket sites including TodayTix, but at odd intervals. Tickets start at £25 pp for great seats, sometimes even stalls seats.
West End Live — happens in June, live performances of snippets (only snippets) of West End musicals at Trafalgar Square, free of cost. Most performances are also available later on YouTube.
TodayTix Off West End Theatre Sale — runs from end of June through early July, participating theatres offer tickets for £10-25 pp. In 2022, major Off West End theatres including The Old Vic and Bridge Theatre were part of it.
Edinburgh Fringe — fringe theatre festival in August with tons of free fringe and nearly-free shows, if you're willing to travel to Edinburgh
Kids Week at Official London Theatre — Kids can attend shows for free in August, booking usually opens in June, for latest info check the Kids Week Facebook page here.
Official London Theatre's New Year Sale — for shows in Jan-Feb, bookings open early Dec, runs through most of Jan, gets you discounted tickets for £10, £20, £30, £40, £50. Available at the Official London Theatre site only.
To be updated with more discount days. You could help the bee with its research by leaving a comment!