When theatre becomes life, life becomes expensive. A recent article by The Stage revealed that, year by year, ticket prices are becoming less and less affordable. Now, top price tickets for half of the shows in the West End cost over £100. Who can afford that? Certainly not most people.
This leaves most of us in the awkward position of simply not being able to see as much theatre as we would like to. But have faith, there are some good budget seats around, you just need to know where to look for them.
So, here are my top tips for choosing the best budget theatre seats out there – and finally seeing that show that you didn’t think you could justify spending £100 on!
Either book ages in advance, or really last minute
The worst time to buy tickets is a month or two before the show that you want to see. Buying tickets ages in advance has lots of advantages – you get to select the best of the budget seats, for one thing. But, as well as that, this is the time where theatres are going to be trying to push ticket sales so, if you keep your eye out for discounts, you might just stumble across a really good deal. I’ll talk more about both of those tactics a little later.
But, if you’re more inclined to spontaneity, booking really last minute can also be a good idea. At this point, theatres will be trying to get rid of those last few tickets, so there you can often find some great last minute ticket deals (sites like Today Tix are excellent for that sort of thing).
Select your own seats
Most ticket-selling sites will let you choose to let them either let them allocate you a seat, or choose your own. I always think it’s a good idea to choose your own. Even if you don’t know the theatre, just choose a price band and select a seat that is situated as close as possible to the next band up.
Check to see if there are concessions
Until recently, I didn’t realise quite how may concessions there are – not just for under 16s and over 60s. When In the Heights was running in London, anyone under 25 could choose any seat for £15. The RSC also offer serious discounts – in fact, for selected performances on all of their shows, there are tickets available for only £5 if you are between 16 and 25. That includes West End shows like Matilda… there’s basically giving tickets away.
Lots of theatres have similar discounts – it’s definitely worth a little bit of research before you charge into buying full-price tickets.
Look at tickets from multiple sellers
Often, the best place to buy tickets is through the official website of the theatre hosting the show that you want to see, but sometimes third-party ticket-sellers offer great prices. How can you possibly know whether the prices you’re looking at are good if you don’t have any comparisons?
Keep an eye out for genuine discount offers
Sometimes it can feel like the world of ticket sales is crammed full of ‘discount tickets’ that are still way more expensive than tickets bought from an official ticket seller like ATG, or the theatre’s own official websites. But sometimes some genuine discount offers pop up and, among the hundreds of advertisements claiming to sell the cheapest tickets, it can be easy to miss them.
This is where it’s useful to have looked at tickets from multiple sellers – that way, you can have a quick look at the different discounts out there are make a pretty accurate judgement on whether the discount will actually land you with the best budget theatre seats. That said, make sure that you only buy tickets from official sellers – there is such as thing as ‘too good to be true’.
Avoid Friday and Saturday evening performances
If you want to see a show on a Friday or Saturday evening, you’ll need to just accept that tickets are going to be more expensive. So, if you don’t care when you see a show – you just want to see it at some point – I would avoid these performances.
Some theatres might even have a specific night in the week where tickets are cheaper (for my local theatre, all tickets are cheaper on a Monday night), so it’s definitely worth having a look at some different days to see whether the prices differ.