19 January 2018

How to Find the Best Theatre Tickets Deals

I go the the theatre quite a lot!  I'd chose the theatre over the cinema or watching TV at home anytime.  The theatre forces me to switch off and pay attention in a way I struggle to at home and I just love watching live performances.  The reaction I get when I talk about going to the theatre is often one of shock at how it can be affordable.  Theatre has this reputation of being an expensive night out when in reality it is rare I pay more than £20 for any show, no matter if it's the fringe or a West End headliner.  Here are a few methods I use to make sure I get the best deal.

Don’t be afraid of the restricted view seats

I chose these seats almost every time, restricted view doesn't mean that you'll be stuck behind a post or unable to see the stage.  Often it just means there is a side view or have a safety bar in site, usually this doesn't affect my view in a way that just leaning slightly one way or another can’t fix.  When booking online there are often notes explaining exactly why the review is restricted from whichever seat you choose but if you are worried call the theatre and they can let you know how your view is effected from each seat.

Download all the apps
There are theatre specific apps like TodayTix and Seatgeek that offer deals on a whole range of ticket deals but there are also city specific apps such as Timeout and Yplan which might not be the first place you think to look but often have some amazing offers.  If you want great deals on good seats these are great, but direct with the theatre is often cheaper for restricted view seats, so check both. 

Embrace solo theatre life

The truth is that the cheapest tickets are often the first to sell so if you are going to the theatre alone it's often much easier to pick up a stand alone ticket then trying to find two or more seats together.  You can find some amazing last minute deals this way.  This also means I often just rock up to the theatre 5 minutes before the show starts guilt free so I save money on buying expensive drinks and snacks.

Go in the week

A fairly obvious one but if you can go to the theatre mid-week there will be more tickets available then at weekends so you can grab those cheap tickets much easier.

Book Direct
Most of the time the best tickets are found when booking directly through the theatre, whether in person or online.  Some of ticket websites and apps charge a fee that isn't there if you book direct and you usually have full access to all the cheapest tickets that are left on a given day.

Student?  Under 25?  Unemployed?  There's probably a deal for you.
The theatre is always trying to reel in new audiences to get to experience the wonders of theatre.  Because of this theatres almost always have a student deal and often more for those under 25 or 30 as well as unemployed and pensioner discounts.  Take a look on the theatre’s website and see what's on offer.

Sign up to newsletters

I have an email I specifically use for 'junk' emails and this is the one I usually use for newsletter sign ups for theatres or ticket websites.  It keeps them away from my professional life but also means I can check them for the best deals as soon as they are sent out.  

Some shows do cheaper tickets on certain days
A fair few West End theatres do these sort of deals,  for instance £10 Wednesdays etc.  The best way to find these is again by going to the theatre’s website direct.

Ticket lotteries
A lot of the biggest West End shows offer on the day ticket lotteries which give you a great chance to pick up a great seat for a rock bottom price if you don’t mind taking a chance.  Shows like The Book of Mormon have one every night, just go the the stage door at 5.30PM register and at 6 they choose names at random.  You then get upto 2 tickets right near the stage for just £20 (and don’t worry you only pay for tickets if your picked).  If you go on a weekday less people will be trying to get them so you will have more of a chance of being chosen.  As long as you can deal with the disappointment if you don't get chosen it's a great one to try.  Other shows like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child do a similar thing online, you just enter your email or tweet a certain hashtag and they choose people at random for tickets for the following week.

Buy early for the big shows
If you are looking to see some of the West Ends most popular shows like Hamilton or Harry Potter you need to be jumping on to grab tickets as soon as they go on sale.  Both these shows have tickets available for under £20 but you know that these will be the first to go.   The websites of these big shows and sometimes theatrical news websites will announce release dates ahead of time so you can set an alert on your phone and join the virtual queue.  

Fancy a West End Musical?  Check out the ticket stores in Leicester Square.
If you are pretty open about what you are going to see but know it's one of the major West End shows these stalls are great.  They work directly with the theatres to sell on their unsold seats at cheaper prices so you can find some great deals but be aware that if you have something specific in mind it may be unavailable.  The TKTS booth is the only official one but the other stalls in the area are trustworthy too and these deals can only be grabbed in person.

Join a secret society
This is going to be vague because I am sworn to secrecy but there a number of secret theatre groups that giveaway unsold tickets to shows for free or very low cost.  You often have to pay a nominal sign up fee and/or wait on a waiting list but then you’ll start getting free and heavily reduced ticket deals sent to you every week.  I'm in a couple of it's usually fringe shows that come up and I've not actually used it too much but it is great if you want free entertainment, there has been big West End shows on some of them before but I’ve always been to late on the draw.  I am not allowed to tell you where to find these or their names but keep your ear to the ground and you may just come across them.

Same day cheap tickets
Some theatres offer cheap tickets on the day of a performance if they are unsold so I recommend going into a theatre and asking if they have any seat deals available for that day.

So that's just a couple of the ways I enjoy the theatre without breaking my budget.  The theatre is often more accessible than people think so even if you don't think you can afford it it's definitely worth a look, you might be surprised.

What's the best theatre deal you’ve found?
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