London Theatre Guide for reviews, tickets and listings

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

01: What’s the difference between West End theatres and Fringe theatres?

Read the section Overview Of London Theatre, where we explain the differences between West End and Fringe theatres.

02: What are Previews? Can we attend Previews?

Generally, previews are performances that allow the director and production team to make changes or for the cast to become settled in their part before the show is attended by theatre critics. Most plays have only a few days previews and do not normally change much, if at all! However new musicals can sometime have a couple of weeks previews and several changes can take place before the critics review it on opening night (press night). The general public can buy tickets for previews, and in some cases the price is reduced. Generally, you won't find much difference between a show in previews and when it is technically 'opened'!

03: How do I buy tickets for a London show?

Read the section on How To Buy Tickets

04: How far in advance must one purchase tickets?

If you really want to see a particular show we always advise to book as early as you can. However, a couple of weeks in advance should be fine for most shows, but probably a month or two for Saturday evening performances of very popular shows, such as "Mamma Mia" and "The Lion King". However, many shows have tickets still available on the day, particularly midweek performances and matinees.

05: If the show I want to see is sold out, what can I do ?

Queue for returns. Arrive at the theatre a few hours before the performance and you may well be able to get a ticket. The National Theatre reserve some tickets which only go on sale at 10am on the day of the performance - but get there several hours before hand as there is usually a queue. If you are really desperate, you can try online auction sites like ebay, but be aware that this can be very expensive and secondly the tickets could be forged, although many auction sites are now offering protection against this.

06: We are coming to the West End in a few months. How often do productions change? That is, should we decide what we want to see and buy tickets now, or should we expect new shows to open before we arrive and so wait and see what develops?

Mostly the long running musicals are always here. However there can be quite a few changes over a period of a couple of months, with some productions closing and new ones opening. I suggest you book now for the shows you really want to see and then wait until a couple of weeks before you are due to arrive to book the rest.

07: Can you recommend the best shows playing in London at the moment?

Opinions vary so much. I suggest you look at the reviews section of this web site to read what the popular press are saying!

08: Are theatres open 7 days a week and on Bank Holidays?

Nearly all London theatres are closed on Sundays, with most open Monday - Saturdays. Generally, theatres remain open as usual during Christmas, New Year and UK bank holidays. However, they all close on Christmas Day itself! Most theatres will have an earlier start time on Christmas Eve and many have extra matinee performances over the festive period.

09: In my country we tip theatre ushers. Do you tip theatre ushers in London, if so how much?

No, we do not tip theatre ushers here in London, I think they would be embarrassed if you did!

10: Do I have to wear formal or informal clothes when I go to the theatre?

It does not matter what you wear nowadays. You will not look out of place whether you wear a Suit and Tie, or Jeans and a T-shirt.

11: In America we have Orchestra Stalls & mezzanine, what are they called in London Theatres.

See the top right hand side of our Seating Plan section for the answer!

12: Where can I buy programmes, Cast recordings & posters for West End shows?

For musicals try Dress Circle , they have a web site at:

Highlighted Question!
Do I have to wear formal or informal clothes when I go to the theatre?

It does not matter what you wear nowadays. You will not look out of place whether you wear a Suit and Tie, or Jeans and a T-shirt.


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