Having recently come top of the list of the world most expensive cities to live in, London can be one of the most intimidating places to find yourself (and your bank balance). However, whether a resident, commuter or tourist, there are ways to court London, to woo it, into providing you with some affordable treats.
If the theatre is your cup of tea and you’ve been online recently you’ll know that the West End will try and charge you up to £80 for a seat. To be perfectly honest, for £80 I’d quite like to be IN the show. However, with some careful planning and searching you can get yourself into a London theatre for anything from £5!
1. Get Into London Theatre – http://www.getintolondontheatre.co.uk/
This programme runs in the early part of each year, aiming to encourage Londoners out of their winter hideaways and into the West End. Tickets are usually 40-50% cheaper than normal and some great shows are available. For the big classics like Les Miserables then advance booking is advisable but even now you can get hold of some £25 seats for Wicked and Billy Elliot.
2. Student Ambassador Schemes
If you’re at college or university within South East England then have a hunt around for ambassador schemes. These offer you free tickets to shows (usually very last minute) and your part of the deal is taking some leaflets and freebies back to your university to advertise their show. During my time as an under grad I saw Hair, Legally Blonde, Hayfever and a few others shows completely free, which was brilliant!
3. TKTS http://www.tkts.co.uk/
Scattered around Leicester Square are dozens of booths offering you discounted tickets for shows that day, but by far the biggest of these is the TKTS booth, in the middle of Leicester Square. If you’re there when it opens at 9am you’ve got the best shot of grabbing a cheaper ticket. Be warned, usually the tickets here are half price of the top band tickets, so they’re not necessarily cheap, just cheaper.
4. West End Live http://www.westendlive.co.uk/
If you’re in London in late June then West End Live is by far your best bet at seeing a show, albeit only part of one. Now in Trafalgar Square, West End Live is a showcase of London’s greatest musical talents. Each show comes on and performs a couple of numbers and the huge audience goes wild every time. With its concert atmosphere you get a more lively experience than sitting in a theatre, and even if it rains you’ll be guaranteed of a great time.
5. Trying your luck
Popping into a theatre on the day of a performance is risky, but it can seriously pay off. Some shows do lottery schemes, or first come first serve tickets when they open (usually at 10am) so if you know a specific show and you have the time then DO IT!
6. Be Young!
If you’re between 16 and 25 years of age then the West End is just begging for you to come and visit! Loads of theatres and companies, including The National and the RSC have discounted tickets for younger audience members, some as low as £5. If a night at the opera or ballet takes your fancy then the Royal Opera House has £5 tickets as well, so nothing is completely out of reach. If you are REALLY young then look out for KidsWeek, a week full of theatrical fun and FREE tickets for kids!