One of my favourite things to do in London is see a West End show (it was one of my Top Things To Do With Kids In London). I’m a sucker for a good musical! In London there are so many to choose from, it can be overwhelming.
“Theatreland”, in central London’s West End district, is famous for being the entertainment centre of the city. It is London’s equivalent of New York’s Broadway. It consists of forty venues that showcase some of the most popular musicals of all time as well as both modern and classic theatre plays and comedic shows.
If you’re wanting to see a live show while in London, I recommend pre-planning and pre-booking your tickets. It can be a large financial investment especially if you have more than one child!
London West End Show With Kids: 9 Tips You Must Read
- Find out what is playing:
Here is a list of current family-friendly shows in London and shows that will be coming soon.
Aladdin (from May 2016)
Billy Elliott- The Musical
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – The Musical
The Lion King
Matilda – The Musical
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
If you have teenagers, the following shows are worth seeing:
The Phantom of the Opera
You can also book theatre backstage tours or walks that take you around the whole Theatreland area of the West End.
- Check the performance days and times:
If you’re in London for less than a week, it’s worth finding out what days and times the performances are held. Not all shows are performed each day, and matinee performances aren’t held every day either.
We wanted to see a matinee show and as we were only spending 3 nights in London, this narrowed down our choice of shows.
To find out performance days and times, have a look at THIS WEBSITE.
- Check seating plans and reviews:
An excellent resource when choosing your seats is THEATRE MONKEY, which shows the seating plans for each theatre and lets you know which seats to buy and avoid.
Consider the following when choosing seats:
-Is your view of the stage restricted?
-If you are too far back, the audio may not be as clear.
-How close are you to an aisle? This is helpful if you need to take your child to the bathroom during the show.
-Do you like to be part of the action of the performance? Sitting in the stalls close to the stage might be ideal.
-Sitting in the first few rows of the Dress Circle gives you an excellent view of the whole stage.
The most EXPENSIVE seats in a theatre are the rows in the stalls, usually from the first row until the row that meets the start of the dress circle above (so usually from rows AA to row S or T). The best seats in the stalls are usually in 6th-8th rows. If you sit too close to the stage, you may not have a good view of the stage floor.
Other EXPENSIVE seats are the first couple of rows in the dress circle, and sometimes the first row or two in the upper balcony.
Try looking at the first row AFTER the most expensive section- this should still give you a great view but at a slightly cheaper price.
- Book Months In Advance
For the best seats to the more popular theatre shows, you are advised to book months in advance. This is important if you have a large family- the more tickets you need to buy, the more difficult it is to get great seats together.
You can purchase your tickets from a number of U.K. based websites, and the tickets can be collected from the box office on the day of your show. All the websites charge the same prices, but they can choose what fees to charge on top of the ticket price.
Tickets for shows during the summer months are snapped up very quickly. For our end of May tickets, we booked in February.
You can try to buy last-minute tickets from the ticket booths at Leicester Square, but usually the tickets are for seats with restricted views or they may be single seats only.
Make sure you book through a reputable website and be wary of ticket scalpers around Leicester Square!
- Plan your trip on the Tube before the day
Have a look at a map of the London Underground (the tube) and work out which line/s you need to travel on to get to the theatre.
Children aged 10 and under travel for free on the Tube. Others must purchase an Oyster transport card and top up with credit, which must then be swiped every time you begin and end your journey.
- Collect your tickets from the box office
The Box Office will request to see the credit card that the booking was originally made with. If your credit card has since expired and you have received a new one with a new card number, bring your old one with you- it will make collecting your tickets so much easier!
- Ask for a booster cushion
Even though most theatre seats are tiered, many kids struggle to see above adults sitting in front of them. When you arrive at the venue, ask for a booster cushion for your child which will elevate them enough to be able to see.
Note that there are not many of these cushions, so ask for one as soon as you arrive!
- Visit the bathroom before the show starts
Queues to the bathroom are usually very long, especially during intermission. Go to the bathroom before the show starts to ensure you don’t miss anything! Listen out for the bell that rings about 5 minutes before a performance is set to begin.
- Buy a West End show program
This is a great memento to keep, and makes an interesting read. And they are so much cheaper than what we pay here in Australia!
I took Miss 11 and Miss 7 to see Matilda in London
Have you taken your kids to a West End show? Are you taking your family to London and wanting to book tickets to a musical?