Are there low-cost ways to enjoy Shakespeare's plays in London?

The glitz and glamour of London's theatre scene are renowned worldwide. Whether it's a modern spectacle at a cutting-edge fringe theatre or a classic Shakespeare play at the historic Globe Theatre, there's something for every theatre-goer in the bustling city. Living in or visiting London, you might wonder, how can one enjoy the best of these performances without breaking the bank?

This article aims to answer that question and guide you through the various ways you can experience Shakespeare's plays affordably in London. We will explore different options, such as standing tickets, off-peak performances, tours, and the best times to buy your tickets.

The Magic of The Globe: Standing Tickets and Off-Peak Performances

Steeped in history and rich in theatric tradition, the Globe Theatre is one of the most iconic venues to witness a Shakespeare play. However, the Globe is more than just a theatre; it's a portal to the past, a place where you can step into the shoes of an original Elizabethan theatre-goer.

One of the most cost-effective ways to experience a play at the Globe is to get a groundling ticket. Named after the 'groundlings' who would stand to watch Shakespeare's original productions, these tickets allow you to stand directly in front of the stage. While the thought of standing for an entire performance might seem daunting, the immersive experience it provides is unparalleled. And at just £5 a ticket, it's a steal for those on a budget.

If standing for a few hours doesn't appeal to you, off-peak performances can be an excellent way to snag cheaper seats. Matinee performances and weekday shows often have lower ticket prices, making it more accessible to enjoy a Shakespeare play at the Globe. Booking your tickets in advance, particularly during the winter season when demand is lower, may also result in substantial savings.

Theatre Tours: A Behind-The-Scenes Look

If you're a fan of the stage, then going on a theatre tour can be an exciting and affordable way to engage with Shakespeare's work. Many theatres in London, including the Globe, offer guided tours that provide a behind-the-scenes look at the theatre, including the stages where the plays are performed, the intricate costumes, and the elaborate set designs.

These tours offer a unique perspective on the art of theatre and an opportunity to walk on the same stage where countless actors have performed Shakespeare's iconic lines. The Globe's tour, for example, is led by a guide who shares insights into the theatre's history, the original staging of Shakespeare's plays, and the reconstruction of the current building.

While you won't watch a play during a tour, the experience can deepen your understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's work, making it a worthwhile investment for theatre enthusiasts.

Finding the Best Time to Buy Tickets

Timing is crucial when it comes to finding low-cost tickets for Shakespeare's plays in London. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing good seats at cheaper rates. Theatre ticket prices can fluctuate based on demand, similar to how airline prices change. Therefore, being proactive about your booking can help you save money.

London's theatres also offer 'Day Seats' – these are tickets sold at a reduced price on the day of the performance. These tickets are limited in quantity and require you to queue at the theatre's box office on the day of the show. If you're up for an early start and don't mind waiting in line for a bit, day seats can be a great way to access affordable tickets to Shakespeare's plays.

Explore Off-Beat Theatres and Lesser-Known Plays

While the Globe is synonymous with Shakespeare in London, it's not the only place where you can enjoy his work. Many smaller, fringe theatres like The Rose Playhouse, The Barbican, or The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse often put up Shakespeare's plays at a fraction of the cost of larger, more commercial theatres.

Similarly, lesser-known plays by Shakespeare tend to have lower ticket prices. Rather than sticking to popular plays like Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth, consider catching a performance of one of Shakespeare's lesser-performed works. This can not only be a more affordable option, but also an opportunity to delve deeper into the Bard's oeuvre.

In conclusion, while London's theatre scene can seem pricey, there are plenty of low-cost options for enjoying Shakespeare's plays. From standing tickets at the Globe and off-peak performances to theatre tours, early bookings, and exploring lesser-known plays at small theatres, Shakespearian enjoyment is accessible to everyone, regardless of their budget. So don't let the fear of expensive tickets hold you back - Shakespeare's world is waiting for you to explore, and it might just be more affordable than you think.

Embracing the Bard's World: The Royal Shakespeare Company and Open-Air Performances

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a notable institution that adds to the vibrant theatre scene in London. It offers a variety of Shakespeare's plays throughout the year. The RSC holds performances both at their base in Stratford-Upon-Avon and in London. Their London performances are housed at the Barbican Theatre, providing a perfect blend of modern amenities and traditional Shakespearean aesthetics.

The RSC prides itself on its commitment to making Shakespeare's works accessible to all, and as part of this, it offers discounted tickets for different age groups and different times. For young people aged 16-25, the RSC's 'BP £5 Tickets' are available for all performances. This provides a fantastic opportunity for young theatre-goers to see world-class Shakespeare productions without straining their wallets.

For those who enjoy outdoor settings, open-air performances are a great way to experience Shakespeare’s plays. The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre has a long-standing tradition of performing Shakespeare in the summer months. Located in the heart of London's beautiful Regent's Park, the theatre gives the audience a unique, enchanting experience of watching plays under the stars. While the seating is not covered, the tickets are often cheaper than indoor performances, making it a budget-friendly option.

South Bank Cultural Hub: The National Theatre and More

London's South Bank is a thriving cultural hub, home to a multitude of theatres, galleries, and museums. The National Theatre, located on the South Bank, is a flagship institution, offering high-quality productions of both classic and modern plays. While it offers a range of works, Shakespearean plays remain a regular feature of their repertoire.

The National Theatre offers affordable options like 'Friday Rush' and 'Entry Pass'. 'Friday Rush' opens up tickets for all NT productions for the next week at £20, available online every Friday at 1 pm. 'Entry Pass' is for anyone aged 16-25 and offers tickets for just £7.50. It's worth checking out their website regularly for other discounts and special offers.

Other venues on the South Bank like The Young Vic and The Menier Chocolate Factory also stage Shakespeare productions occasionally, and their tickets can be quite affordable too. In short, the South Bank is not just a place to enjoy the riverside view but also a place to immerse oneself in the world of theatre, often without spending too much.


Enjoying Shakespeare's plays in London doesn't always mean a heavy dent in your wallet. The city's theatres, from the legendary Globe to the contemporary National Theatre and the open-air spaces of Regent's Park, offer a myriad of options that accommodate various budgets. Standing tickets, matinee and weekday performances, early bookings, backstage tours, and day seats all provide affordable ways to experience the magic of Shakespeare's work. Even the smaller, lesser-known venues often stage the Bard's plays at a fraction of the cost, offering an intimate, unique experience.

Exploring the London theatre scene further, you'll discover a plethora of opportunities that will allow you to dive deeper into the world of Shakespeare. Remember to keep an eye on the box office or websites of these theatres for any special deals or discounts. Whether you're a Londoner or a visitor, a theatre veteran or a newbie, don't miss the chance to indulge in the rich, timeless tradition of Shakespeare's plays in London. As Shakespeare himself said, "All the world's a stage," and in London, it's an affordable one!