Catch a London West End show for as low as 20 pounds

west end shows
There are alternative ways to watch London West End shows at a cheaper price. Source: Isabel Infantes/AFP

If you’re a student living in London, or perhaps just a train ride away from the illustrious city, you might be interested in catching a West End show at some point. This is for good reason, too; many of the productions in the heart of London are award-winning, exciting and immersive displays of human performance. 

No matter who you are or where you come from, there is a West End show you’ll love. From classic productions like “Les Misérables” to the newer cult classic “Heathers”, you’ll find performances of every genre and age group. 

Not a fan of musicals? That’s alright — there are many incredible plays on offer. This ranges from Aaron Sorkin’s critically acclaimed “To Kill a Mockingbird” to the new production of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”. 

Still, West End shows don’t come cheap. Some are priced as low as 25 pounds, but are placed far back or have restricted views. The seats closer to the front — those that give you a good view of the stage — often cost around 80 pounds or more. 

For most students, this is an unaffordable price. Because of this, many avoid the West End at all costs — and thus miss out on some truly memorable experiences. 

Luckily, there are a few tried and tested ways to get West End tickets for cheap. Some are even priced as low as 15 pounds. 

How to watch West End shows for cheap

West End Live, a theatre festival in Trafalgar Square, London. Source: Will Oliver/AFP

Download TodayTix

TodayTix is an app that allows you to easily and safely purchase tickets for theatre productions. The app is available in most theatre-dense locations, such as New York, Boston, Melbourne, Toronto — and, of course, London. 

The great thing about TodayTix is its flash deals, rush tickets and lottery opportunities. These are available in abundance in the West End. 

For example, Lin Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit “Hamilton” offers daily lottery tickets. You can enter online and stand a chance of winning 10 pound tickets. 

By contrast, Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” gives out a limited number of 20 pound rush tickets every morning at 10AM. These tickets are first-come, first-served, so be sure to enter the app on time if you want to purchase those tickets. 

On some occasions, TodayTix will also give out flash sales on most of its shows. Currently, many West End shows are heavily discounted as part of its New Years sale. 

Try your hand at day seats

If you’re living in London and have time in the morning, getting your hands on day seats are a great alternative. Simply put, day seats refer to the excess tickets that have not yet been purchased for the day’s performance(s). Most box offices hope to sell out and therefore are more willing to sell their tickets at a discounted price on the morning of the performance. 

All you need to do is show up in front of the theatre you hope to get tickets for in time for 10AM. If the show is immensely popular, there might already be a queue of hopeful viewers. In this case, make sure to arrive well before 10AM to guarantee your spot. 

Keep in mind that every box office has a different day seat policy. Some box offices sell tickets for 30 pounds, while others let them go for 15. Some may limit you to two tickets per person, so you might need to bring another person or two along if you’re looking to purchase tickets for a group. Some West End shows may not give out day seats at all. 

Make sure to check in advance before you make the trip. Theatre Monkey has a great Day Seat Finder page that lists and updates cheap ticket options for all West End shows currently running. 

The cast of Hadestown, a musical that ran in London until 2019. Source: Theo Wargo/AFP

Visit the TKTS Booth in Leicester Square

Feeling spontaneous and want to catch a show? The TKTS Booth in Leicester Square is your best bet. Here, last-minute tickets are given out at cheap prices every day. They’re usually limited for performances running in the next few hours or the day after, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for something interesting to fill your evening with. 

However, you should know that TKTS tickets don’t always come as cheap as those on TodayTix or day seats. Some will give off tickets at 40 pounds and above. Either way, it’s unlikely that you’ll find tickets cheaper than 30 pounds here. 

Another thing to keep in mind: it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get tickets for the West End show you want. The TKTS booth works with West End shows every morning to determine how many available seats are left for each performance, and sells them at a lower price from there. They take into account the number of tickets reserved for day seats and TodayTix, too. 

This means that if you’re hoping to watch a specific show but it happens to be busy on the day, no tickets will be sold at the booth. 

Show up at the theatre a few hours before showtime

This strategy leaves much up to chance, but sometimes, you’ll get the best deals by just showing up at the theatre and asking if they have any discounted tickets for the night’s performance. Most popular shows won’t offer you lower-priced tickets, but if you’re lucky, you might get to see less crowded performances for insanely cheap prices. 

Be sure to search for any deals or student discounts, as well. You never know if some box offices have exclusive deals for you — all you have to do is ask.