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London theatre lotteries: how to get cheap West End tickets to some of the biggest shows

Plays like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Fleabag and Hamilton and more all offer special schemes

Despite the sheen of opulence that is widely attached to theatre (London’s West End in particular), it can be surprising just how much of an impact ticket lottery schemes have upon affordability. Hopefully the following guide offers a glimpse into how a wily city dweller can crack London’s theatre scene – best of luck!

Here’s a list of some of the schemes offered by big West End shows:

Fleabag

Through an online weekly lottery, 50 tickets will become available for each Fleabag show at a cost of just £15. A limited number of standing tickets will be sold at Wyndham’s Theatre box office for a tenner on each morning of the performance.

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

“The Friday Forty” is one of London’s most established online lottery schemes. As the name would suggest, 40 tickets are released at £40 (£20 per part) to watch the stage instalment of the Harry Potter series at The Palace Theatre.

The Book of Mormon

Daily and weekly lottery schemes at The Prince of Wales Theatre provide an opportunity to see the smash musical for just £20. The online lottery commences every Wednesday for 24 hours and daily lottery entries are accepted at the box office two and a half hours before each performance.

Hamilton

Hamilton‘s daily online lottery offers the chance to purchase a couple of tickets at £10 each for the following day’s performance at Victoria Palace Theatre. Entering the lottery is easiest using the app but entries may also be processed online.

School of Rock

This weekly lottery offers £20 tickets for seats at the Gillian Lynne Theatre that would normally cost three to four times that amount. Notably, chances are doubled by answering a short questionnaire.

Top Tip:

Given the chances of winning tickets are undoubtedly slim, entering a number of lotteries is highly advisable. The best way to collate and organise these schemes is through using an app called TodayTix – extremely easy to navigate, the application allows users to set up lottery alerts for their favourite shows. Having notifications pushed through means that customers are only a few clicks away from entering ticket raffles.

The other fantastic thing about the app is the number of performance day “rush” tickets that become available. Although not strictly a lottery, rush tickets are similarly priced and a convenient, millennial alternative to queuing outside a box office on a damp Saturday morning.

Room for improvement?

As admirable as it is that lotteries widen the West End’s audience demographic, one cannot help thinking that the system could be developed to better assist those who need a discounted ticket. In the same way that the School of Rock‘s lottery increases a user’s odds by completing a questionnaire, one idea could be to double or triple an entrant’s chances based on age (Under-26 perhaps) or a lower income bracket.

If the latter in particular sounds like an idea to be shot down as Corbynite fantasy, then perhaps the capital could look north for inspiration and consider the £10 low wage tickets that were available at the recent Manchester International Festival. Based on honesty and designed for those who truly needed them, cheap tickets were sold to Greater Manchester residents whose annual wage fell below £16,000.

In a similar vein, director Jamie Lloyd has recently announced that over the course of his upcoming one-year residency at the Playhouse Theatre, 15,000 tickets will be available completely free for first-time theatergoers. This is in addition to offering a further 15,000 tickets at £15 for under 30s, key workers and those receiving JSA; these initiatives are an example to the West End of what accessible theatre should truly mean.

Plays like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Fleabag and Hamilton and more all offer special schemes

Cheap West End theatre tickets and day-seats

Full price? Don’t pay it. Sold out? There’ll be a way in. See the best of the West End for less with these day-seat offers and other cheap West End ticket deals

West End theatre shows can seem expensive and/or impossible to get into, but the trith is there’s always a way to get cheap tickets or find a way in to a sold out show you want.

1. Great ticket offers. Unless a show is very hot or the run is short, you should be able to shop around and get discounted tickets to any West End show via third party sellers like our own Time Out theatre tickets service and TKTS.

2. Returns. The faithful old return is very much a thing for sold-out West End shows. Queue up outside any given theatre an hour or two before showtime and returned tickets will be sold, albeit at full price.

3. Day-seats. The open secret of London theatre is that most big shows release excellent day tickets and day-seats on the day of performance, generally at a cheap rate, available in person from the box office only (ie, you might have to get there early and queue).

4. Lotteries. West End theatre shows that don’t have day-seats will usually have a ticket lottery that you can enter online. The big one for this is ‘Hamilton’, though it’s increasingly common with new shows aiming at a younger audience.

See below for show-by-show info on day tickets and lotteries in the West End.

Find out where to get West End theatre tickets for discount rates, plus information about long-running offers for West End shows.