Plus, you can count on the 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 new Video Games in Concert, which is touring next year, to the upcoming Cirque Du Soleil OVO show.
The team also like to experience the plays we recommend, and you can read what we thought of various theatre productions in our Operation Mincemeat review (the musical comedy that’s taking London by storm) and our 2:22 A Ghost Story review. Looking for a show off the beaten track? The award-winning My Neighbour Totoro is back at the Barbican at the end of this year, with tickets on sale now.
Without further ado, here are the best West End shows to see in London this year.
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 the BBC Earth Experience and Frameless taking place all throughout autumn.
Best West End shows and musicals in London at a glance:
Best West End shows for families
Most popular West End shows
Best London musicals
Last minute theatre tickets for London tonight
Limited time only West End shows
Best West End shows and London musicals to see in 2024
Based on the bestselling book by Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet is coming to the West End for a limited 14-week run this autumn. The production by the Royal Shakespeare Company has been in Stratford-upon-Avon, and transfers to the Garrick Theatre from Saturday 30th September 2023 until Saturday 6th January 2024.
The play follows the story of playwright William Shakespeare and his wife Agnes Hathaway as they experience emotional turmoil in the aftermath of the death of their only son.
Buy tickets for Hamnet from £30 at London Theatre Direct
For date inspiration in the capital city, take a look at best London art exhibitions, best London date ideas, and best London rooftop gardens.
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 musical, which stars Rebecca Lucy Taylor as Sally Bowles and Jake Shears as Emcee, has won seven Olivier Awards and is currently booking until September 2024.
Buy Cabaret tickets from £30 at ATG Tickets
Plaza Suite is performing at the Savoy Theatre for a limited time only — from 15th January until the 31st March 2024 — and you can buy tickets from now.
Buy Plaza Suite tickets from £109.50 at LOVEtheatre
Theatre fans will be aware that The Woman in Black ended its 33-year stint on the West End this 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.
Buy Operation Mincemeat tickets from £39.50 at ATG Tickets
The Merchant of Venice 1936
Coming to London’s West End directly from the Royal Shakespeare Company is The Merchant of Venice 1936, starring Tracy-Ann Oberman, which will be performing for a very limited time only run, from 15th February until 23rd March 2024.
If you’re not familiar with the story of The Merchant of Venice 1936, Shakespeare’s tale is set against a background of political unrest, and you should expect power, ambition, and even revenge.
Buy The Merchant of Venice 1936 tickets from £22 at London Theatre Direct
The Unfriend is returning to the West End after its sold-out run at The Chichester Festival Theatre and its critically-acclaimed performances at The Criterion. The play stars Lee Mack, Frances Barber, and Sarah Alexander, and it follows the story of couple Pete and Debbie as they meet widow Elsa on holiday. The trio agree to keep in touch, and Elsa invites herself to stay with the couple a few months later, sounds sweet, right? Wrong. The play turns into a game of cat and mouse, and there’s murder on the cards, too.
Buy The Unfriend tickets from £25 at London Theatre Direct
The Little Big Things Musical
The Little Big Things is based on the best-selling autobiography of the same name by Henry Fraser, and it follows the story of Fraser and his family as they all navigate a new way of living post a sports accident that changed Fraser’s life.
The musical is directed by Olivier Award winner Luke Sheppard, who is the director of My Son’s a Queer (but What Can You Do?) and & Juliet, too, and if The Little Big Things Musical is as good as My Son’s a Queer, then you’re sure to be in for a treat!
Buy The Little Big Things Musical tickets from £23 at TodayTix
Six the Musical
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 £39 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
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.
The Enfield Haunting
Spooky season may have come to a close, but is it ever not the right time to get your ghoul on, particularly with these dark nights? We don’t think so! The Enfield Haunting is the perfect play for your ghostly fix now that 2:22 A Ghost Story and The Woman In Black aren’t currently showing.
This limited time only run is based on the first-hand accounts of a ghost hunter: The Enfield Haunting follows the true story of a single mum who tries to protect her three children from a mysterious and unusual force. The play stars Catherine Tate and David Threlfall of Shameless fame.
Buy The Enfield Haunting tickets from £25 at ATG Tickets
For more terrifying experiences in the UK, be sure to take a look at the best Edinburgh ghost tours, best York ghost tours, and top UK dungeons.
Matilda the Musical
Adapted from Roald Dahl’s much-loved book of the same name, Matilda is taking bookings up to December for the Cambridge Theatre in London. You know exactly what you’re getting with this musical: wholesome, family-friendly fun.
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
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 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
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
If the hugely enthusiastic description on From The Box Office is anything to go by, Back to the Future: The Musical will be the most electrifying experience of your entire life — possibly more important than, say, childbirth. 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 last year, 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 decided to extend its West End run so there’s even more opportunity to go and see it.
Buy Back to the Future: The Musical tickets from £19.55 at Ticketmaster
The Book of Mormon
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. The locals are uninterested, however, as they face more pressing issues such as famine, HIV/AIDS, FGM, and oppression from their warlord.
Buy Book of Mormon tickets from £22 at Ticketmaster
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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.
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
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
TINA: The Tina Turner Musical
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 £20 at London Theatre Direct
Phantom of the Opera
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 £28 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
We’re huge Stranger Things fans here at , 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.
One of our 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
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 on travel, here’s how to get cheap train tickets. Plus, we’ve compiled a list of top West End tips and advice.
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 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?
With Christmas just around the corner, you might be 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. For more adventurous activities, check out our best London escape rooms, best UK driving experiences and best London VR experiences.