London Theater Guide: Top Shows & Venues
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


The theater scene in London is legendary—bursting with creativity, it's the place where stars are born and dreams come true. If you're a lover of the arts, or even if you're just starting to dip your toes into the world of drama, this guide is for you. From the top shows to watch, to the most famous venues, and even tips on how to score discounted tickets—we've got you covered. So sit back, relax, and let us guide you through the thrilling world of London's theater scene.

Top Shows to Watch in London

The theater scene in London is a treasure trove of amazing performances. From timeless classics to groundbreaking new productions, here's a list of must-see shows to add to your London bucket list:

  • The Mousetrap: This Agatha Christie masterpiece holds the record for the longest-running play in the world! It's a murder mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end.
  • The Lion King: A visually stunning musical adaptation of Disney's animated film. With spectacular costumes and enchanting music, this show will captivate audiences of all ages.
  • Hamilton: This hip-hop musical about America's Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, has taken the theater scene in London by storm. It's a modern take on history that you won't want to miss.
  • Les Misérables: Set in 19th-century France, this tale of love, revolution, and redemption is one of the most popular musicals in the world. The music is sure to give you goosebumps!
  • Wicked: Ever wondered about the backstory of the witches in The Wizard of Oz? Wicked is a musical that tells their tale. It's a spellbinding show filled with heart, humor, and some seriously catchy tunes.

While these are some of the most popular shows, the theater scene in London offers a vast array of productions to suit every taste. So whether you're a fan of Shakespeare or prefer a modern drama, there's something for everyone in London's vibrant theater scene.

Famous Venues to Visit

One can't talk about the theater scene in London without mentioning its iconic venues. These theaters aren't just places to watch a show—they're landmarks where history unfolds and where the magic of theater is brought to life. Here are a few of the most famous venues you should visit:

  • The Globe Theatre: An exact replica of the original theater where Shakespeare's plays were performed in the 16th century. Here, you can experience the Bard's works the way they were meant to be seen.
  • London Palladium: Known as the "Ace of Clubs" in the world of theater, the Palladium is the home of big-budget musicals and variety shows. Its plush red velvet seats and ornate interior are a sight to behold.
  • Lyceum Theatre: Located in the heart of London’s theater district, the Lyceum is the proud home of the Lion King musical. The building itself is a masterpiece of Victorian architecture.
  • Prince of Wales Theatre: A modernized theater that has seen the likes of the comedy musical "The Book of Mormon." It’s a testament to London's ability to blend the old with the new.
  • Royal Opera House: A grand venue that is home to The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera. It's a must-visit for any lover of ballet or opera.

These venues, each with their own unique charm and history, form the backbone of the theater scene in London. When you step into one of these buildings, you're not just going to a show—you're becoming part of a rich and storied tradition. So next time you're in London, make sure to pay a visit to these iconic venues. You might just find yourself awestruck by the beauty and history that surrounds you.

How to Buy Theater Tickets

So, you're ready to dive into the theater scene in London, but you’re not sure how to go about getting tickets. Don't worry, it's simpler than you might think! Here's a step-by-step guide to help you:

  1. Choose the Show: Start by deciding which show you want to watch. There are so many options in London's theater scene, from classic Shakespearean dramas to modern musicals. Research a bit about the shows that are currently playing and pick one that appeals to you.
  2. Select the Venue: Once you've chosen a show, find out where it's playing. The venue can greatly influence your theater experience. Some shows even tour different theaters, so make sure to pick a venue that's convenient for you.
  3. Decide on a Date: Check the show schedule and decide on a date that works best for you. Keep in mind that weekday shows are often less crowded and sometimes cheaper too!
  4. Purchase Tickets: Now, for the most important part—buying the tickets. You can do this online through the theater's official website, over the phone, or in person at the theater’s box office. Always remember to check for student, senior, or military discounts if applicable.

And just like that, you're all set to enjoy some of the best theater experiences the world has to offer right here in London! Remember, it's not just about the show—it's about the entire experience, from the anticipation of buying the ticket to the final curtain call.

What to Wear to a London Theater

Now that you've secured tickets, you might be wondering about what to wear to a London theater. After all, the theater scene in London is known for its elegance and style. But don't fret—it's not as complicated as it might seem.

While there's no strict dress code for most theaters, it's customary to dress smartly. Think of it as a special occasion. You don't have to pull out your most extravagant outfit, but it's nice to put in a little effort. Here are some pointers:

  • For the Guys: A smart pair of trousers and a button-down shirt will do the trick. If you're feeling a bit fancy, why not throw on a blazer too? Remember, comfort is key—choose something that allows you to enjoy the show without fidgeting in your seat.
  • For the Ladies: A comfortable dress or a smart blouse with a skirt or trousers works well. If you're worried about getting cold, bring along a light shawl or cardigan. As for shoes, heels are not a must—choose what you feel comfortable in.

Remember, the theater is about experiencing the magic of the performance, not about fashion policing. As long as you're comfortable and respectful of the theater environment, you're good to go! Here's to a fantastic night at the theater scene in London!

Best Time to Go to a Show

When it comes to immersing yourself in the theater scene in London, timing can make all the difference. So, when is the best time to go to a show? Is there such a thing as a perfect time? Well, let's break it down.

The beauty of the London theater scene is its sheer versatility. There are shows on practically every day of the week, at various times of the day. However, there are some general trends you might want to be aware of.

  • Evening Performances: Most shows start between 7 and 8 PM. This is the traditional time slot for theater, making it a perfect after-dinner activity. The city lights add to the ambiance, making it a truly enchanting experience.
  • Matinee Performances: These are usually held on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, starting between 2 and 3 PM. Matinees can be a great option if you prefer daytime activities or if you're trying to squeeze in more than one show in a day!

Remember, the best time largely depends on your personal preference and schedule. No matter when you go, the theater scene in London promises a memorable experience—so just pick a time that works for you and enjoy the show!

London Theater Etiquette

When you're diving into the theater scene in London, knowing a bit about theater etiquette can enhance your experience —and ensure that others can enjoy the show too. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Arrive on Time: London theaters are quite strict about their start times. Arriving late might mean you have to wait in the foyer until an appropriate break in the performance. To avoid this, aim to get there at least 30 minutes early.
  • Keep Noise to a Minimum: This might seem obvious, but it's worth repeating! Try to keep your noise level down during the performance. This includes whispering, rustling candy wrappers, or checking your phone. Remember, the actors can see and hear you too!
  • Applaud Appropriately: It's customary to clap at the end of each act and at the close of the performance. If someone gives a particularly stunning performance, you might feel moved to give a standing ovation. Go ahead—it's all part of the fun of the theater scene in London!

These are just a few tips to help you navigate the London theater etiquette. Just remember, everyone is there to enjoy the show, so let's all do our part to keep the theater a fun and respectful place for all!

How to Find Discounted Theater Tickets

When you're immersing yourself in the theater scene in London, the cost of tickets can quickly add up. But don't worry! There are ways to find discounted tickets and still enjoy the magic of the stage.

  • Try the TKTS Booth: Located in the heart of Leicester Square, the TKTS booth offers discounted tickets for same-day performances. Just remember, it's first-come, first-served, so get there early!
  • Lotteries: Many theaters run lotteries where you can win the chance to buy discounted tickets. For example, the National Theatre's 'Friday Rush' offers £20 tickets every Friday for the following week's performances.
  • Under 26 Discounts: If you're under 26, you're in luck! Many theaters, including the Royal Court and the Old Vic, offer discounted tickets for this age group. So, grab your ID and enjoy the show!

These are just a few of the ways you can get a taste of the vibrant theater scene in London without breaking the bank. Remember, it's not about the price of the ticket—it's about the joy of the performance. Happy theater-going!

If you enjoyed our London Theater Guide and want to learn more about the world of theater, check out the 'Lights, Camera, Action!' workshop by Gianna Adams. This workshop will give you an in-depth look at the process of creating a successful theater production, from scriptwriting to the final curtain call. Don't miss out on this opportunity to further explore the magic of the stage!