BWW Blog: A Quick Guide to the West End on a Student Budget
Hello everyone! My name is Kat and in case you couldn't tell, I'm quite a big theatre nerd. Whenever I take a trip across the Channel from France to England, seeing a show (or two or three) is always one of my top priorities. Unfortunately, tickets for shows on the West End (or even just around London in general) tend to be expensive and out of my price range, especially as a university student. But fortunately, I have found some tricks that enable me to see shows at relatively low prices. Today, I'm going to be discussing how to get tickets for West End shows for a student budget. Let's dive in and look at a few of the different options that are available to make West End tickets more affordable!
When people talk about TodayTix, they're usually discussing Broadway and shows in New York City. But luckily for West End fans, there's a section on the app dedicated to London and the shows it has to offer. When entering lotteries, you only have to pay if you win (you'll get a notification either by email or text with your results before the show). There is also the opportunity to sign up for rush tickets, where you share about TodayTix on social media and can then try to get tickets around 10 AM the day of the performance.
The app can be downloaded from both the App Store and Google Play for free.
While I personally have never purchased tickets from the TKTS Booth, I tend to walk by it to see what deals are available for the day. The TKTS Booth is a classic theatre fan tradition from New York City, where fans line up in Times Square in order to get a chance to purchase cheap tickets for different performances, both on Broadway and Off-Broadway. These tickets are all legitimate (no worries about fraudulence) and can be seriously discounted, with some offers going up to 60% off and higher!
Now from what I've seen (and I must confess that it hasn't been too much), the TKTs booth in Leicester Square seems quite quiet and much simpler than the booth in Times Square. There have been several times where I could've simply walked up and bought a ticket without even having to wait in line.
The TKTS Booth is open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 7 PM and Sunday 11 AM to 4:30 PM.
Address: The Lodge, Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DE, United Kingdom
As someone who doesn't mind getting up early and waiting in line for a few hours, trying to grab a day seat for shows is my usual plan. Box offices tend to open up around 10 AM, giving early birds the chance to purchase tickets for that day's performances for a relatively cheap price.
Waiting times can range from a few minutes to hours and hours. The longest I've waited is four hours, but that was for The Lion King, one of the shows that is the most popular with tourists and typically has higher prices (most shows tend to be about a 90-minute wait if you want a seat). My friend and I got front-row tickets for only 20£ each!
Be sure to check the opening times of the box office and be certain that there is a performance that day! Some shows like Mary Poppins don't have day seats but they offer tickets for a reasonable price that you might be able to nab if you show up when the box office opens (partial view for 15 pounds? Yes please).
A website I love is Theatre Monkey, home to the Day Seat Finder (http://www.theatremonkey.com/day-seat-finder). This site gives information for each box office and what type of discounts/offers they have, particularly focusing on day seats. People who wait in lines can send in a report of their experience, giving others an idea of how many people show up at different times for different shows. Try looking at the Day Seat Finder a few days before going to the box office yourself in order to get a feel for what to expect!
Sometimes, if a show isn't too popular, you might be able to grab a ticket a little while before the show starts. One time I managed to purchase a ticket for Heathers 30 minutes before showtime and the box office staff member was kind enough to upgrade my seat for no extra charge! Another time my friend and I decided to go see Waitress after losing the Book of Mormon lottery and were able to get 2 tickets for around 30 pounds each an hour before the performance began.
This one would only be something I recommend if you really don't have a pressing desire to see a show. There's always a chance that a show will be sold out a few hours before it begins, so don't go into the theater expecting to be guaranteed a spot.
Another option for same-day (or nearly same-day) tickets is through lotteries. While most lotteries for shows are entered online and let you know a few hours (or even a day) ahead of time, shows like Book of Mormon hold in-person lotteries to win tickets for the performances. Lotteries can be a bit chaotic with fans crowded around listening for their name to be called, but there's always an awesome air of excitement throughout the crowd. But DO NOT FORGET YOUR ID. Trust me, as someone whose friend won the #Ham4Ham in NYC but couldn't get the tickets without an ID, you'll be regretting it if you leave it at home.
Early/Ahead Of Time
Of course, there's always the classic option of buying your tickets way ahead of time in order to get cheaper options. Back in early March I purchased a front row ticket to Six for only 30 pounds and there were still plenty of even cheaper seats available. Even super popular shows like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have cheap tickets when availability is first released, giving everyone the chance to try to see a performance. Subscribe to the newsletters of different shows so you get updated on what days new tickets are released, which will help you prepare ahead of time. Get on the site a few minutes before the release and make sure everything is in order, and then Happy Hunger Games, may the odds be ever in your favor.
Be sure to also check for student discounts and other different sales that are available for different shows. Most shows have information on their website on what discounts are available for different types of audience-goers. One perfect example of this would be when Betrayal was on the West End starring Tom Hiddleston. A week before the show I was able to purchase a student ticket for only 10 pounds thanks to a student rush sale.
And there you have it! A few different ideas in order to help you get some tickets to shows while still sticking to your budget. Enjoy!