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How to bag seats at London's top theaters on a budget

Recently updated on May 12th, 2023 at 10:01 am

If you’re looking to unlock London’s top theaters without breaking the bank, then you’re in the right place. With just a little know-how, it’s possible to snag seats at some of the city’s top theaters for a fraction of the price. From uncovering budget theater tickets to timing your booking right, here’s how you can have an amazing experience in the West End, for less.

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Image of the Royal Opera House, taken from the 2nd balcony tier, overlooking the stage with curtains drawn.

Attend a matinee

If you’re willing to catch a show during the day you can often find discounted tickets for matinees. These performances are typically held in the afternoon and can be significantly cheaper than evening shows. Plus, matinees are often less crowded than evening performances, meaning you’ll have a better chance of finding a good seat. We like to use London Theatre’s matinee page when looking for matinee tickets.

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Check for last-minute deals

Feeling spontaneous? You might be able to find a great deal on last-minute tickets to some of London’s top theaters. If a show hasn’t sold out, you can find budget tickets that are released on the day of the performance. Try book online, but if you have the chance it’s best to visit the box office in person on the day of the performance. At 10am, they’ll release standby tickets for the show that evening. Alternatively, you can also go to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for discounts on tickets for shows that day. Even London’s top theaters don’t always sell out every night. So don’t be shy – it’s always worth a try to see that show you’ve been dreaming of.

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Book in advance

While last-minute deals can get you great tickets for less, it pays to book in advance too. A lot of box offices offer early bird discounts for tickets booked well in advance. Plus, booking early gives you a better chance of getting good seats before they sell out.

Use discount codes

One of the best ways to buy tickets for West End shows is to use discount codes. You can find these codes on various newspapers such as the Daily Mail and The Express, or try newsletters from ticketing companies. Some theaters also offer discounts for students, seniors, and other groups, so it’s worth checking to see if you can get a bargain.

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Image of London in the evening looking along Westminster Bridge towards Big Ben. Two double-decker buses in the foreground, blurred due to long exposure.

Look for package deals to London’s top theaters

If you’re planning to see multiple shows in the West End, try looking out for package deals. Some ticketing companies offer discounts when you buy tickets to two or more shows. You can also find package deals that include dinner and a show, which can be a great way to save on a night out.

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Try standing tickets

If you’re really on a budget, standing room tickets can be a great option. These are cheaper than regular seats and give you access to a standing area at the back of the theater. While standing for the duration of a performance might not be for everyone, it’s a good way to see a popular show without spending too much money. This is especially true at Shakespeare’s Globe, where you can watch a show for just £5 as a “groundling” – although that’s a little bit pricier than the penny you might have paid in the 1600s.

There are plenty of ways to save on West End theatre tickets. With a little planning, you can enjoy London’s top theaters without breaking the bank. If you’re in the middle of planning a big trip to London, researching can be pretty time-consuming and stressful. Why not let a team of experts do all the work for you? Take advantage of their long-acquired knowledge and connections with local secrets, must-see sites and one-of-a-kind experiences.

Try a Trafalgar guided tour to London and the UK, where you’ll still have the freedom to go see shows at London’s top theaters with everything else taken care of, from accommodation to transport to an amazing itinerary. Try the London Explorer, an 8-day tour around the capital, or see the rest and the Best of Britain on an 11-day adventure through the UK. Whichever tour you fancy, you’re sure to unlock the very best of London.

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