Whether you're a local or in town for a special occasion, a West End show is a brilliant way to spend an evening. From award-winning musicals to book adaptations, and from re-tellings of iconic stories to limited-time shows, London is jam packed with entertainment.

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But how do you choose what to see in London? We've considered everything from budget, genres and cast to give you our pick of the best plays, musicals and theatre shows to see. We've got Hamilton for the history buffs, Back to the Future for a dose of nostalgia, and we already know Disney's Frozen The Musical will be a hit with the kids. There's also limited-time only shows, such as Standing at Sky's Edge and Hello, Dolly!.

Plus, you can count on the RadioTimes.com team to select the top theatre shows to see. Our Going Out section is packed full of exciting things to do in London, from escape rooms and immersive experiences, to walking tours and experience gifts. So, if there's something new going on in the Big Smoke, we'll share it with you.

We even have recommendations for more timely activities, too. Whether you're in the capital for a family weekend with the kids, you're looking for a fun day out with friends or hoping to expand your cultural horizons, we've got you covered; we've got guides on everything from the Balloon Museum to the best immersive experiences in London.

The RadioTimes.com team also like to experience the plays we recommend, and you can read what we thought of various theatre productions in our Enemy of the People review, Standing at the Sky's Edge review and our Witness for the Prosecution review. Plus, we've put together a series of theatre guides so check out the best kids theatre shows, best musicals on tour and the best plays in London.

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Without further ado, here are the best West End shows to see in London this year.

Sponsored by LOVETheatre

Don’t miss Cole Porter’s classic musical Kiss Me, Kate at The Barbican this summer

There’s not long until the op'nin of Cole Porter’s iconic musical Kiss Me, Kate at The Barbican this June.

This sparkling Shakespearean adaptation will star Line of Duty’s Adrian Dunbar alongside Broadway legend Stephanie J Block, plus Doctor Who’s Peter Davison, and rising stars Charlie Stemp and Georgina Onuorah.

Running at The Barbican for just 15 weeks, from 4th June to 14th September, the show is set to be the theatre event of the summer, so grab yourself a ticket now from £30.

Buy Kiss Me, Kate tickets from £30 at LOVETheatre

A poster of Kiss Me, Kate featuring Charlie Stemp and Georgina Onuorah
LOVETheatre

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Want to try something out of the ordinary? Here’s our pick of the best immersive experiences you should try in London this year, with events including Frameless and The Moonwalkers: A Journey with Tom Hanks taking place all throughout the upcoming months.

Like everything at the moment, the price of seeing a show is going up. However, the RadioTimes.com team specialises in helping you do the things you love for less, so we've written a guide for how to get cheap theatre tickets.

Best West End shows and musicals in London at a glance:

Limited time only West End shows

Best West End shows for families

Best London musicals

Last minute theatre tickets for London tonight

Best West End shows and London musicals to see in 2024

Kiss Me, Kate

Adrian Dunbar and Stephanie J Block as leads in Kiss Me Kate
Kiss Me Kate

Who doesn't love a Shakespeare retelling? Especially one that stars Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar! In a similar vein to movies such as She's The Man, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Clueless, Kiss Me, Kate offers a modern twist on a classic tale, this time, The Taming of the Shrew. The 1984 musical follows Fred and Lilli, a divorced couple playing the lead roles in a play.

Buy Kiss Me, Kate tickets from £30 at See Tickets

If you're wondering if Kiss Me, Kate is the musical for you, read our Adrian Dunbar Kiss Me, Kate interview.

Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder!

Kathy and Stella solve murder
Ellie Kurtz

One of our Digital Writers has tickets to see Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! and they're as excited as when their favourite true crime podcaster drops another episode. The award-winning whodunnit musical combines true crime with comedy; join Kathy and Stella on their journey from hosting Hull's least successful true crime podcast to becoming real-life amateur detectives when their favourite author is killed.

Buy Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! tickets from £20 at TodayTix

Are you a fan of podcasts — true crime or otherwise? — then take a look at our best podcasts to listen to and best Doctor Who podcasts guides.

Waiting for Godot

Ben Whishaw departs the "Limonov - The Ballad" Red Carpet at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival
Ben Whishaw. Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

There's a reason Waiting for Godot is so famous — Samuel Beckett's 1953 play shocked its audiences upon its premiere in Paris as it presented a new type of theatre, the Theatre of the Absurd. Waiting for Godot is the most well-known play from the Theatre of the Absurd movement, and now a landmark new production is coming to London starring Lucian Msamati (of Game of Thrones fame) and Ben Whishaw (who you'll recognise from films such as Paddington).

Buy Waiting for Godot tickets from £18 at LOVE Theatre

The Duchess

Poster for The Duchess featuring Jodie Whittaker looking blankly ahead and being illuminated by a red light.
Poster for The Duchess featuring Jodie Whittaker. Trafalgar Theatre/Neil Reading PR

You already know the RadioTimes.com team are huge fans of Doctor Who, so we'd never pass on an opportunity to see a Doctor (past or present) in their other endeavours.

Returning to the stage for the first time in over a decade, Jodie Whittaker, will star in The Duchess: Zinnie Harris's contemporary adaptation of The Duchess of Malfi. The Duchess follows a widow who remarries beneath her class, and her brothers unleash a torrent of cruelty upon her for it.

The Duchess will be at the Trafalgar Theatre for 11 weeks only from October, so we'd recommend snapping up tickets soon!

Buy The Duchess tickets from £23 at TodayTix

Cabaret

Best west end shows
ATG Tickets

Cabaret is currently showing at the Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse in London's West End. A night at Cabaret promises to be an experience as well as a night out — guests are invited to immerse themselves in the club experience and can even drink and dine before diving into the world of inhibition-free Berlin.

The cast of Cabaret, like 2:22 A Ghost Story, is ever-changing, and to find out who is starring in the production you'll be going to see, read our guide on the current Cabaret London cast.

Buy Cabaret tickets from £30 at ATG Tickets

If you're a comedy fan — or maybe you just need a bit of a pick-me-up — be sure to take a look at the best London comedy shows.

Operation Mincemeat

Operation Mincemeat
Operation Mincemeat

Theatre fans will be aware that The Woman in Black ended its 33-year stint on the West End last year; the terrifying play was performed at the Fortune Theatre in the heart of London's West End, and filling the boots of The Woman in Black is Operation Mincemeat. This sharp-witted comedy tells the real-life story of a WWII operation, and answers the question: how did a well-dressed corpse wrong-foot Hitler? If you're thinking that this musical sounds extremely bizarre, you'd be absolutely right.

A favourite of several members of the RadioTimes.com team, this musical is sure to have you humming its soundtrack for the weeks, months and maybe even years after heading to see it. God That's Brilliant.

Buy Operation Mincemeat tickets from £39.50 at ATG Tickets

If you love socialising but dislike how noisy it can be sometimes, take a look at our guide on how do Loop Earplugs work?

Six the Musical

best west end shows
London Theatre Direct

If you watched the Platinum Jubilee concert, you would have caught a glimpse of this bizarre retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives. In the musical, each wife takes it in turns to share their story of how they were wronged by the Tudor King, and why that means they should be the lead singer of the wives’ pop group.

Buy Six the Musical West End tickets from £42 at London Theatre Direct

Originally debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017, Six is now touring the UK, with performances in Manchester, Oxford, Glasgow and more.

Buy Six the Musical UK tour tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

For date inspiration in the capital city, take a look at best London art exhibitions, best London date ideas, and best London rooftop gardens.

Hamilton

The cast of Hamilton on stage during the Olivier Awards.
The cast of Hamilton on stage during the Olivier Awards. Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

As the winner of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Hamilton is a brilliant choice if you’re in London this winter and want to treat yourself to a West End show.

A blend of hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway is the musical backdrop to this show, which tells the true(ish) story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers and George Washington’s right-hand man.

Buy Hamilton tickets from £25 at London Theatre Direct

Want to experience the music from your favourite shows in a different light? Check out our guide to the best candlelight concerts around the UK.

Matilda the Musical

Matilda the musical on stage
Getty / David M. Benett

Adapted from Roald Dahl’s much-loved book of the same name, Matilda is taking bookings up to May 2025 for the Cambridge Theatre in London. You know exactly what you’re getting with this musical: wholesome, family-friendly fun.

There are also a handful of RSC £10 tickets available for 16-25 year olds, supported by TikTok.

Buy Matilda the Musical tickets from £20 at Matilda the Musical

For more day out inspiration in London and beyond, take a look at the best pottery experiences and best steam train experiences.

The Lion King

best west end shows
GettyImages/Ralf-Finn Hestoft

A story we all know and love. Based on the 1994 Walt Disney movie of the same name, The Lion King musical play features music from Elton John, actors in decadent animal costumes and giant hollow puppets. The show opened in the Lyceum Theatre over 20 years ago in 1999, and is still going strong after more than 7,500 performances.

It’s the top-earning title in box-office history, surpassing The Phantom of the Opera, and even the Royal Family have seen a performance of this much-loved story.

Buy The Lion King tickets from £35 at ATG Tickets

If you're a film fan (Disney or otherwise), here's how to get cheap cinema tickets and the best London luxury cinema experiences. Plus, check out the top Disney Plus offers for this month.

Wicked

best west end shows
GettyImages/Darren Bell

Wicked knows a thing or two about being ‘Popular’! This musical is the prequel to The Wizard of Oz, and it tells the story of Elphaba (the future Wicked Witch of the West) and her friendship with Glinda (the Good Witch of the South). It was nominated for six Tony awards, including Best Actress, and, honestly, we went to see the musical with our families, and it’s deserving of every single nomination.

Buy Wicked tickets from £27.50 at Ticketmaster

A Wicked UK tour is coming to a city near you! Read out article for everything you need to know, including how to bag tickets.

Frozen: The West End Musical

best west end shows
GettyImages/Theo Wargo

Back in January 2019, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane embarked on an ambitious project to restore its historic theatre to its former 1812 glory. Last year it reopened its doors with showings of Disney’s Frozen. The jaw-dropping sets and special effects really make this musical magical as it brings to life the scenery from the film.

Buy Frozen the Musical tickets from £29.50 at LW Theatres

Back to the Future: The Musical

best west end shows
London Theatre Direct

If the hugely enthusiastic description on From The Box Office is anything to go by, Back to the Future: The Musical will be a truly electrifying experience. The musical follows the plot of the blockbuster film: teenager Marty McFly is blasted back in time to the year 1955 by eccentric scientist Doc Brown and unwittingly changes the course of history.

If you watched Britain's Got Talent in 2022, you might have caught a sneak peek of Back to the Future: The Musical on Britain's Got Talent. Since its special appearance, the musical has kept extending its West End run so there's even more opportunities to go and see it.

Buy Back to the Future: The Musical tickets from £19.85 at Ticketmaster

The Book of Mormon

best west end shows
GettyImages/Jeff Spicer/Stringer

From the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, comes this comedy musical about two Latter-Day missionaries who are posted to a remote Ugandan village to preach the faith of the Church, and to convert its inhabitants to Mormonism.

It's all-singing, all-dancing and very much tongue-in-cheek, as you'd expect from the creators of South Park. Book tickets today – after all, Tomorrow Is A Latter Day.

Buy Book of Mormon tickets from £22 at Ticketmaster

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

harry potter and the cursed child still with a woman holding her hands aloft
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage via Getty Images Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage via Getty Images

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two-part play written by Jack Thorne and based on J.K. Rowling’s original story. It follows Harry, Ron and Hermione 19 years after they saved the wizarding world, and they’re joined by a new generation of wizards and witches to stop mysterious evil forces for another time.

Buy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets from £15.75 at The Ticket Factory

If you're a fan of Harry Potter, we've included two walking tours in our top London walking tours piece, and take a look at The Cauldron in London and the best UK Harry Potter experiences.

Les Misérables

best west end shows
GettyImages/Vince Talotta

Les Misérables is a musical that needs no introduction. What makes West End’s longest-running musical so magical is how immersive it is; with the backdrops of paintings by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables’ author, and the powerful performances from every single member of the cast, you feel like you’re at the heart of the action.

Buy Les Misérables tickets from £31 at London Theatre Direct

Hello, Dolly!

how to get hello dolly tickets imelda staunton london 2024 west end
Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty Images Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty Images

BAFTA award-winning actress Imelda Staunton will be taking on the titular role of Dolly Levi in the West End premiere of the Hello, Dolly! musical. This London theatre show follows Dolly as she travels to Yonkers in New York to find a match for ‘half-a-millionaire’ Horace Vandergelder. However, while she's there, Dolly decides that the next match she makes shouldn't be for just anyone, it should be for herself.

Hello, Dolly! is showing for a limited time only — from Saturday 6th July to Saturday 14th September 2024 — at The London Palladium.

Buy Hello, Dolly! tickets from £23 at TodayTix

Read what Imelda Staunton had to say about Hello, Dolly! here.

TINA: The Tina Turner Musical

Best West End shows
London Theatre Direct

Aldwych Theatre welcomes you to TINA. The musical includes all of the late great Tina Turner's much-loved songs, and follows her journey to stardom, from her humble beginnings in Tennessee to the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll — with her live performances selling more tickets than any other solo artist across the globe. It showcases all the ups and downs along Tina's way, and you'll leave the theatre feeling very motivated.

Buy TINA: The Tina Turner Musical tickets from £13 at London Theatre Direct

Witness for the Prosecution

The cast of Witness for the Prosecution -
Sam Barker

Who doesn't love a good murder mystery? The genre has really made a comeback in recent years, especially with the likes of Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club books, and there's no better introduction to the genre than the queen of crime herself, Agatha Christie.

Trust us, the tale of Leonard Vole, accused of murdering a widow in cold blood, is sure to keep you guessing right up until the end. Want to find out more? Check out our five star Witness for the Prosecution review.

Buy Witness for the Prosecution tickets from £19 at London Theatre Direct

Phantom of the Opera

best west end shows
London Theatre Direct

It's one of the most popular theatre shows and one of the West End's most enduring love stories. Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera has been performing for over 30 years now, and shows no sign of slowing down.

If you aren't already familiar with the compelling plot, the show tells the story of the Phantom, who seeks to control the Paris Opera House. He finds a new student, a chorus girl called Christine, and trains her to sing the music of the night.

Buy Phantom of the Opera tickets from £31 at London Theatre Direct

Looking for something else a bit spooky? Here are the best Edinburgh ghost tours, best UK zombie experiences, best UK dungeons, and best York ghost tours.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow

Poster for the theatrical version of Stranger Things at the Phoenix Theatre on 27th September 2023 in London, United Kingdom
Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Mike Kemp/Getty Images

We're huge Stranger Things fans here at RadioTimes.com, so trust us when we say this production is a must-see for any fans of the series. The play acts as a prequel to the series, and is filled with the same friendship and nostalgia that fans are familiar with from the screen.

Buy Stranger Things: The First Shadow tickets from £20 at ATG Tickets

Here's everything you need to know about Stranger Things season 5, as well as our review of Stranger Things: The First Shadow.

Standing At The Sky's Edge

standing at the sky's edge still showing two characters sitting on a bench
Standing At The Sky's Edge. Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

One of RadioTimes.com's Digital Writers were lucky enough to experience this limited time only production about - Sheffield and (partly due to the fact they're from the Midlands) they absolutely loved it.

Penned as a 'love letter to Sheffield', playwright Chris Bush and musician Richard Hawley's Standing At The Sky's Edge follows three generations living in Sheffield's brutalist estate Park Hill. Set against the neon lights of I Love You Will U Marry Me, the families experience everything from Thatcherism to Brexit and the miners' strikes to gentrification.

Buy Standing At The Sky's Edge tickets from £48 at London Theatre Direct

Moulin Rouge

Dancers performing in Moulin Rouge
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

One of our RadioTimes.com Digital Writers went to see this jukebox musical with their mum and sister, and the whole family loved it! They particularly liked that everyone got up out of their seats for the final song to sing and dance along.

Moulin Rouge follows the story of Christian, a young writer who meets and falls in love with cabaret dancer, Satine. The duo unfortunately can't be together, and this musical shows their love story filled with joy, heartbreak and despair.

Buy Moulin Rouge tickets from £30 at Headout

Looking for a plan in the Big Smoke in the next couple of days? Here's our recommendations of what to do in London this weekend.

What time do West End shows start and finish?

Like with the price, this depends entirely on the show, and whether you've got a matinee or evening performance. Most shows run for two hours to two and a half hours, with a 15-minute interval. A matinee performance usually starts at 2:30pm, whereas the evening performances will begin around 7:30pm.

West End show weekend breaks and hotel stays

If you're travelling to London for a West End show, it makes sense to spend a few days in the city; especially if you're planning on seeing an evening performance which will have you leaving the theatre at around 10pm (that's our bedtime!).

There are a number of websites, like Holiday Extras, where you can book your theatre tickets and hotel in one go. You can choose which theatre show you'd love to see, then select how many nights you'll stay around your chosen date, and it'll suggest hotels just a stone's throw away from the theatre.

Plus, as it's a package deal — a theatre show and hotel combo — you'll save a couple of quid, too.

Book a West End show and hotel stay at Holiday Extras

What is the easiest way to get to the West End?

Travelling to the West End when you live outside of London can seem like a mean feat. But we're here to reassure you that it can be done with minimal faff and on a budget, too.

Train timetables are usually released 12 weeks in advance, and train operators put cheap train tickets on sale shortly afterwards. The nearer your travel date, the more expensive the train tickets will be, so be sure to snap up tickets as soon as possible.

Railcards are also a great way to save a couple of quid on your travel — 1/3 of the total ticket fare to be precise. Find the right Railcard for you at Trainline.

If you live too far away from London to comfortably travel there and back in one day, and let's face it, a lot of us do, you may want to consider an overnight stay. Airbnb offers private rooms and entire homes all across London, so you're bound to find somewhere that fits your budget.

For more information, take a look at our West End tips and advice article.

What are the best seats in a theatre?

If money is no object, you might as well spend a bit more to get closer to the action at a West End show. However, with all the different parts of the auditorium, it can be tricky to know where to select seats which guarantee the best viewing experience; so we've done the difficult work for you.

Here's the breakdown of all the seats in a theatre, and where to sit for maximum viewing enhancement.

The Stalls are considered the best seats in the house as they're on the ground floor and closest to the stage. In a lot of West End theatres, there will be rows and rows of ground-floor seats, so you can choose to be on the front row, somewhere in the middle, or right at the back; the closer you are to the stage, the pricier your seats will be.

The Dress Circle, sometimes referred to as the Royal Circle, is the next level up from the ground floor. The Dress Circle gives audience members an advantage as they can see what's happening across the whole stage — something that people in the stalls might not be able to do, particularly for props or characters at the back of the stage.

Next up is the Upper Circle, also called the Grand Circle. This is another level up again, and will be one of the cheaper theatre tickets available (unless the theatre has a Balcony which not many of them do). You'll be able to see everything on the stage, however, you may miss finer details, such as an actor's facial expression.

The cheapest seats in the house are Restricted View. All theatres will sell tickets for what they deem a 'restricted view'. However, as we mentioned earlier, one of our RadioTimes.com team went to see Wicked with their mum, and the supposedly 'restricted' view was anything but. We can't guarantee this will be the case in all theatres, though, and you may find your view obstructed by a safety rail or a pillar.

Sitting in a box is an excellent way to make your trip to the theatre even more memorable. Typically located on the same level as the Dress Circle, a box can be hired out for just you and your party, which means you get perks like strangers not squeezing past you to go to the loo during a dramatic moment.

Can you get theatre gift vouchers for London?

Wondering what could be the perfect gift for your theatre-loving friend or family member? The obvious choice is to buy them theatre tickets, but with people's jam-packed schedules and with so many plays and musicals with a whole-host of genres to choose from, buying specific theatre tickets for a specific date might not be the easiest idea.

That's where a London theatre gift voucher comes in! Theatre gift cards are a great present idea for a loved one as you can use them on a range of theatre shows, such as Disney’s The Lion King, Cabaret, Wicked, and Moulin Rouge. The West End theatre gift cards are flexible, too, as a lot of them can be redeemed for up to 12-months from the time of purchasing.

So where can you buy these brilliant vouchers from? A lot of UK ticketing companies sell them, and to make matters simple, the Going Out team have put together a list for you below — you're welcome.

This next deal is perhaps out of a lot of people's budgets, however, despite the extravagant price tag, it does actually save you money in the long run. TodayTix is offering theatre lovers a ticket to every single show in the 2024 theatrical season with its All You Can Seat package. With All You Can Seat, you'll receive access to premium Band A tickets to all West End shows, and a personal concierge to assist with planning and booking. There are just 10 All You Can Seat tickets, and the packages are priced at £10,000.

Head to our Going Out section for the latest releases, including our mammoth guide on what to do in London this weekend.

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For more adventurous activities, check out our best London escape rooms, best UK driving experiences and best London VR experiences. Plus, how to get Inside No.9 Stage/Fright tickets.

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