A lot of people think that buying a bargain theatre ticket from a theatre ticket booth in central London is a good thing - it's bad!
I have worked in the theatre and seen that the public have been sold tickets for the wrong day, the wrong show (true!), the wrong theatre, a sold-out show, and even a disabled patron was sold a ticket to a show where there was no wheelchair access in the auditorium.
Some of these ticket merchants are greedy and downright cruel.
The best thing I would advise any theatregoer in London would be to buy a ticket from the theatre you're planning to go see a show at, or if you really want that bargain seat, we now have a TKTS booth located in Leceister Square (like the one in NY's Times Square), which is the official London half-price ticket booth.
Recommended ticket offers are found on these wonderful websites too...
http://www.londontheatre.co.uk (more info here about the TKTS booth!)
Also get there early at the theatre - I'd say no less than 15-20 mins before curtain-up, as some shows have a 20 minute wait time before they'll let you into the auditorium if you're late (once the show has started). Even being just 5 minutes late could cause you a wait for up to 20 mins. It does depend on the show/theatre - but bear that in mind anyway if you go and see a show ;)
Enjoy your night out a the theatre - oh and if you are from the USA, a small tip - you have to pay for Playbills here! *sigh* :)
Outside a lot of the theatres and concert venues you'll see people asking to buy or sell tickets. Unless you're desperate to see the show dont' buy from these people. they sell tickets to make a profit, therefore a £20 ticket will cost you about 80 depending on the show. especially at concerts its best to wait until later if you're going to buy them because then they will be trying to get rid of the tickets because they're no good to them, so you may get it cheaper than the actual price. The other upside of this is that the scumbags won't make any money.
I particularly hate these people for one reason, they stop real fans or customers getting tickets so that they can sell them at a higher price and make money for doing nothing. I have no problem paying more for a ticket as long as i know it's going to the performers or the theatre, but i don't believe that these people should be making money by taking advantage of people that actually want the tickets.
I have been to a concert before, which was about half full but the venue had sold out, all because the ticket touts realised that the band playing had a huge following and sold out the last venue. so they bought all the tickets and most people saw that it was sold out and didn't bother even trying to get the tickets...
Unique Suggestions: wait til very close to the start of the performance, they may sell you the ticket cheaper than it's face value because they will just have a worthless piece of paper if they hold onto it.
Fun Alternatives: book early by phone or on ticketmaster.co.uk or if you want a cheap ticket get to leicester square and head to the south end of the little park there, there's a box office selling late deals and matinee tickets
There are a lot of rip-offs and scalpers selling tourists tickets for shows.
Do not patronize any of the places around Leicester Square calling themselves the "Half Priced Ticket Booth". The Half Priced Ticket Booth WAS the name of the authentic booth that is now called tkts. Because of imitators, they changed their name.
The cheapest way to get tickets of course is going or phoning to the individual box office and buying a ticket there. You will not get half price tickets, but you can get cheaper tickets without the service charge. [TKTS sells more of the best or most expensive seats.]
Theatre box offices are open from 10.00am. Even if TKTS doesn't have tickets for the show you want it is still worth contacting the theatre box office.
If you don't want to do that, AND want to avoid being ripped off, go to
TKTS formerly called the Half Price Ticket Booth. is the only official half price and discount theatre ticket booth in London.
You can't book ahead. You can only get tickets for performances on the same day. There is no phone number for TKTS. You can only get them by coming in person.
The website says:
You'll find it in the clocktower building on the south side of the garden in Leicester Square. It's easy to find - it is the only free-standing building actually within the Square, rather than around the edge. Beware the many imitators around the Square!
Unique Suggestions: tkts is run by the Society of London Theatre, the trade association that represents London theatre. Other outlets that promise discount tickets are not the official outlets of SOLT and their sales and business practices are not regulated by the Society. So make sure you go to the tkts building to purchase your tickets.
Most tickets are sold at exactly HALF PRICE plus a service charge of £2.50 per ticket. Some additional shows may also be available at a 25% discount or at full price, giving you the broadest choice of on-the-day tickets available in London. Payment is by cash (Sterling or Euros), credit card or debit card, or by Theatre Tokens (cheques and travellers cheques are not accepted).
Look to see which shows have tickets available by looking at the two noticeboards in front of the building. Bob is looking at one of them in the picture. One of the noticeboards at tkts gives details of matinée (afternoon) performances, the other lists evening performances.
Note: Tickets for Matinee and Evening shows are sold from different windows. Check the signs above each of the windows so that you get into the right queue.
Fun Alternatives: tkts is operated by The Society of London Theatre. The service charge per ticket levied at tkts enables the Society of London Theatre to operate the booth, run a broad range of audience development initiatives, and contribute to the Theatre Investment Fund which invests in new productions and supports new producers.
The nearest Underground stations are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
tkts is open every day of the week, all year round (with the exception of Christmas Day)
Monday to Saturday:
10.00am - 7.00pm for afternoon (matinee) and evening performances
12 Noon - about 3.30pm for afternoon (matinee) performances only.
Don't be fooled into thinking that these tickets are discounted. We bought tickets to Les Miserables, costing £15.50 per head, up in the roof space somewhere. When we arrived at the theatre, we found out that we could have bought the same ticket for £12.00, and we could have bought tickets in the upper circle for £15.00 !!! Won't be making that mistake again! Advice: always check out the availability at the Theatre first!!!
There's a very famous ticket booth in leicester square, both in the square and on the corner where the station is. It might look like a great place to get tickets last minute but honestly you'd be better off going on the internet and ordering or directly to the theatre and ordering from their box office. www.seetickets.com is one of the best online ticket vendors because they actually have a number you can call up and speak to them. usually the tickets will be available for you to pick up with your credit card at the theatre when you get there...
The Tickets from the booths are in fact legalised ticket touts so the price you pay for tickets there can be double the price you'd normally get.
Unique Suggestions: buy the tickets online first... then wave it at them as you go past
Fun Alternatives: www.seetickets.com
The 'discount'/'half price' ticket stands. Usually they charge such a high commission that it costs much more than it should to see a performance. My friends and I would have paid a high price after standing in line for about an hour, but there weren't any seats left together. So, as a last effort, we went to the box office. Lo and behold, plenty of seats, and much cheaper!
If you want to go to a musical, buy a newspaper and look in which theatre which musical is being played. Then go directly to the theatre and buy a ticket there at the ticket office. Sometimes you even get student reductions (if you are a student ;-) )
NEVER BUY A THEATRE TICKET AT THE SALES POINTS ON LEICESTER SQUARE OR AT PICADILLY CIRCUS. They charge you more than the theatre although they state to sell half price tickets - not true!!
There are many booths in the Leicester square area that supposedly sell half price tickets. When you purchase your tickets from them make, sure you verify with them that you want the discounted ones. Although they do have discounted tickets, they are often limited in number and can be purchased on the day of the show only. Often they will sell you full priced tickets plus additional handling charge (up to their discretion) when in fact you can buy directly from the box office of the respective theatres with no additional charge. Having said that one advantage of buying your tickets from these places is that you don't have to walk from theatre to theatre checking for availability. But you pay for the service!
Buying theatre tickets from agencies in the U.S. You can search the web for what shows are currently playing and call the theatre directly over the phone. All you pay is the long distance charge (the call won't take more than 5 minutes, so it's not much at all), and they hold your tix at the box office. Some theatres don't even charge much of handling fee, if they charge one at all (a pound or 2, just a few dollars). And they will let you pick the location. I always do this.
The mousetrap. This play runs for almost 50 years and I have no idea why. The acting is not the level you would expect from a west end theater, and the play itself isn't very exciting. In a city full of great theater, don't waste your money on this.
Please be warned here - beware of the MUSICAL TOUTS!!! One 'must do' thing is to watch the many musicals staged here, especially top-grade ones like LES MISERABLE and Phantom of the Opera. Despite much warning from guidebooks and friends, we were still unsuspectingly being lured into buying tickets from touts. Why? Because they have ticket booths situated in the shopping centres with the full works eg. seat layout, numbers, dates and events etc. They looked so professional that we really thought they are genuine sellers (much like our booths back home)! However, we found to our horror when we reached the theatre that we have paid doubled the box-office price for the tickets!! We went back to the booth and only managed to recover a small part of the prices. When we tried to take pictures of the shop, one guy who looked like a bouncer walked threateningly towards us and we fled without taking any. So fellow friends be warned - the best is to buy tickets at the BOX OFFICE!!
I've certainly seen better acting, better sets, better costumes, and better plays but so what. The Mousetrap is an institution and quite honestly I'm glad I can say I've seen it. It's been playing for almost 60 years and will probably play for another 60 more. I wouldn't splurge on this--get the cheap seats for sure but see it if for no other reason than to hear the announcement at the end where they ask you not to give away the ending.
Unique Suggestions: Bring a book. Just kidding--just don't spend a lot on good seats.
In Leceister square there are numerous booths that advertise half price theatre tickets. Make sure you go to the official theatre booth in the center of the square.
Unique Suggestions: Scope out the different booths to find your cheapest tickets, cause there are quite a few booths in leceister square
Fun Alternatives: Go to the actual theatre (if you are a student) you can get a pretty good deal, especially if you aren't looking for prime seats