How to Buy London Theatre Tickets

London is renowned for its world class theatre.  Some of the best actors in the world grace London’s stages and the quality of the productions is always high.
How much do theatre tickets cost?
Tickets are expensive with premium seats at around £80 each, over £150 for opera and ballet venues.
If you’re not worried about what you’re going to see, there are a number of discount ticket agents around London who can sometimes help you get good tickets,  particularly if you’re going mid-week or seeing a matinee.
Check out LastMinute for good deals, but don’t rush in to buying tickets just because they are cheap, consider what you want to see first.
Beware of booking via a third party that makes out that you’re getting a good deal. You often end up paying  less if you buy tickets direct from the theatre.  You don’t usually have control over where you sit when you buy from a third party so it pays to buy them directly from the theatre if you can.
How do you buy London theatre tickets?
1. Start thinking about what you might want to see, months in advance if possible.
2. Find out what theatre your play is at and look up the seating plans on Theatre Monkey, the site is invaluable when it comes to figuring out which seats are good and which to avoid.
3. Buy tickets by calling the theatre’s box office direct or use the theatre’s website.  I’ve found the easiest way is to call the box office of the theatre direct.  The staff are usually friendly and will help you choose good seats.

4. Some tickets bought from the theatre directly can often be returned to the box office and refunded if you can’t make the show.  Policies vary however, so always check.

5. If you’ll have time to get to the theatre at some point before the show starts, then ask for the tickets to be held at the box office for you to collect them personally – even if it’s just half an hour or so before the show starts. This will avoid your tickets being sent out and getting lost in the post.
6. If your tickets haven’t arrived in time, they may have gone missing or been stolen and sold on eBay to an unsuspecting third party – this happened to me a few times!  If this happens and you’ve bought your tickets from the theatre directly, call the box office and explain the situation.  The box office can issue replacement tickets for you to collect at the box office, if you can show them your receipt/confirmation of your booking and the credit card you used to buy the tickets.
When should you buy theatre tickets?
If there’s something particular that you want to see, book as far in advance as possible.  Popular shows sell out months sometimes even a year in advance.  Some theatres keep a hundred or so tickets available for those willing to queue (sometimes from very early in the morning, or the night before for some shows).
If that fails, you can always queue for returned tickets on the day you want to go, although you won’t be guaranteed.
What to See?
Deciding what to see will usually be the most difficult decision. Here are a few of my favourites
Musicals, West End
There are always great musicals to see in London, including The Lion KingWickedMamma MiaLes Miserables and the controversial Book of Mormon to name a few.
Shakespeare’s Globe, London Bridge
The perfect place to see a Shakespeare play brought to life.  Standing tickets are good value but does mean that you will be standing for hours and if it rains youl get wet.  The main season runs from June to September with the occasional show in April, May and October.
Open Air Theatre, Regents Park (May to September)
On a summer’s evening this is a great place to be. We took a picnic.  Bring your rain jackets in case it rains.
Donmar Warehouse, Covent Garden
Some of the best plays I have ever seen has been in this tiny 250 seated theatre.
National Theatre, Southwark
The National is made up of three separate theatres, the Olivier (approx 1,000 seats), Lyttelton (approx 900  seats) and Cottesloe (the smallest approx 400 seats). It sits right on the Thames’ South Bank and hosts an array of shows from large scale musicals, and amazing comedies (check out One Man, Two Guvnors if you like slapstick) to intense modern dramas.
Royal Court, Sloane Square
Often known for its cutting edge theatre and new plays. There are some amazing productions put on here.
Old Vic, Waterloo
Kevin Spacey’s Artistic Director and sometimes stars himself.  It’s a beautifully restored theatre that hosts some fantastic plays.
Slightly out of the way if you don’t live in north west London but worth the trip.  Great for stand up comedians and first class  dramas.
Young Vic, Waterloo
New plays often by young playwrights with some established and emerging talent are played here.
Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith
The place to see the acting stars of tomorrow with a lovely restaurant near the river.
Opera, Ballet and Dance
Royal Opera House, home of the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera
Full of mink jackets and Jimmy Choos – this place oozes money.  Not that a dress code is enforced so don’t worry if you don’t fancy wearing a suit, or a dead animal.  Good tickets are extraordinarily expensive, up to £175 each, and they sell out quickly.  The theatre is beautiful and whatever you see will be world class.
English National Opera and the English National Ballet, The Coliseum in Trafalgar Square
This is the largest theatre in London and productions are spectacular.  Best seats cost around £100 each.
Watch an opera on a summer’s evening.
Ballet and Dance
Sadler’s Wells, Angel and the Peacock Theatre in Covent Garden
All types of  ballet and contemporary dance productions are hosted here including Matthew Bourne’s excellent productions.
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