London is a great city to study abroad in not just because it’s beautiful, but because it’s really easy to see professional theatre really cheaply. Here are some of my best tips:
Most West End (the London version of Broadway) shows set their cheapest ticket prices around £15, which is about $20. These aren’t necessarily the worst seats in the house: I’ve sat in the orchestra section for £10-20. You can buy online at the theater website or on apps like TodayTix.
There’s also Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Bankside, where I’m taking classes, which offers 700 standing room — or “groundling” — tickets for £5 for every show during the summer. They usually have three or four plays running in repertory, so there’s always something interesting to see!
Pro tip: if you buy groundling tickets make sure you’re lined up at the “groundling gate” outside the theater around an hour before the show starts to make sure you’re close to the front!
Most West End shows have lotteries you can enter on TodayTix, where you can win up to two £20 tickets to a show on that same day. Even if there are no lotteries, they have day-of tickets you can buy for around the same price either online or at the theater. I’ve taken the train to Leicester Square and just walked into theaters to see whatever their cheapest ticket is, and gotten into shows for £10 or £15.
Some theaters allow you to sign up for a student discount if you have a London address. I just used my mailing address at my university. The National Theatre has several theaters and shows running simultaneously, and as a student you can buy up to two £7.50 tickets for select shows with a Student Entry Pass.
Sometimes theaters hold free events to get people interested in their shows. Last weekend I went to West End Live, which is a two-day event in Trafalgar Square where musicals on and off the West End performed musical numbers from their shows for free. We had to line up two hours before, but it was a really cool event and we were able to get discounted tickets and other free stuff. It also helped us decide what shows we wanted to see while we’re here, so it was definitely worth the time!
With over 50 West End theaters and a thriving Off-West End theater scene, London has tons of options for students on a budget to see a lot of really high quality theater for less than the price of dinner at a nice pub!