Getting last-minute theatre tickets is no easy task. These days, most high-profile shows are booked up weeks in advance, and any tickets left over are, shall we say, less than cheap.

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But difficult doesn't mean impossible, and there are still plenty of ways to get yourself a seat at the West End's best musicals and plays.

For one, a lot of people return their theatre tickets and these are always redistributed on the same day as the show – often for much cheaper. Plus, long-running performances like Les Misérables and Witness for the Prosecution normally have a few seats left empty, especially on a weekday, so there's a good chance you can snap up a ticket.

To help, there are also a good number of ticketing schemes such as Rush tickets, seat fillers and ticket lotteries, all of which are designed to help you in that eleventh hour.

Below, you'll find all of these outlined in detail, as well as our list of recommended shows that often have tickets free. For more guides, here's how to get cheap theatre tickets.

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Don't forget to check out our full list of best West End shows, plus the best musicals on tour UK and the best open air theatre shows.

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Where to buy last-minute theatre tickets for London’s West End shows

Frozen The West End Musical
Frozen. Johan Persson

If you're looking for a theatre ticket for that evening's performances, your first step is to check the different ticketing sites. London Theatre Direct, TodayTix and LOVE Theatre all have last-minute pages where they list the shows with the best availability.

Often these seats are also discounted, but you should check each site to see where the best prices is. Make sure you add the ticket to your basket to get an actual sense of the price, because plenty of sellers will add booking fees right at the end.

As a hot tip: weekdays are far more likely to have empty spaces than weekends, especially Monday to Wednesdays.

Rush tickets

Ticketing sites like TodayTix put spare seats for that evening's performances on sale every morning at 10am – these are known as Rush tickets. These tickets are available of a first-come-first-serve basis and entirely depend on the availability of the performance, so you could be sitting anywhere. You can buy up to two tickets per performance and for more information, we have a full guide to the TodayTix Rush ticket scheme.

Ticket lotteries

If you miss out on the early morning Rush sale, you can also enter a ticket lottery where your name and details will be entered in a pool that gets drawn either every day or once a week, depending on the show. For the daily lottery, entries open in the morning and the names are drawn in the afternoon for that evening's performance. Meanwhile, for the weekly one, you can choose your preferred dates for the coming week and will find out the result the preceding Friday.

Like with Rush tickets, the ticket lotteries can be found on TodayTix. All you need to do is download the app, pick the show you want to see and sign yourself up to a lottery.

Seat filling schemes

Seat filling schemes are a brilliant way of getting tickets quickly and cheaply. Companies like Central Tickets and The Audience Club require you to sign up for a membership (which is often free), then they'll notify you of any last-minute ticketing opportunities.

TKTS Booth Leicester Square

If you're already out and about in London and want to see what's available, pop over to the TKTS Booth in Leicester Square.

Located on the south side of the square in the clocktower building, this booth has great same-day deals across a huge range of London shows. You can buy up to six tickets at a time, and we'd recommend getting there early in the morning to get a jump on the best offers.

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Best West End shows for buying last-minute tickets

Les Miserables still: man holding flag with people cheering him
Les Misérables. Johan Persson

The best shows for buying last-minute tickets will be the long-running performances that aren't leaving the West End any time soon – think The Mousetrap. If theatregoers know they have plenty of time to see a show, they're less likely to be frantically booking seats.

If you want to go a bit less main stream, however, we'd suggest looking at some of the lesser-known West End shows, ones without major TV stars or famous plots.

Lastly, there's always a spot spare at Shakespeare's Globe. Take a look at the best Shakespeare plays for more.

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For more theatre news and reviews, here's the 2:22 A Ghost Story cast, the Cabaret London cast and our Two Strangers review. For more London activities, here's the best plays in London.

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