Top theatre lotteries

The top theatre lotteries – how to grab £10 to £25 tickets for Cabaret, Moulin Rouge, Matilda and more West End shows (often the best seats)

What seat would £10 buy you at a big West End show nowadays? You might expect to be right up in the gods, at best. Yet a host of West End shows offer drastically reduced tickets via free-to-enter lotteries. From Cabaret to Moulin Rouge and Hamilton to Matilda, theatre lotteries give you the chance to buy seats that can cost £100+ (depending on the show) for just £10 to £25.

Last month, I won seats for Moulin Rouge in the premium 'can-can' tables at the front via its lottery for £25 each – normally each seat would have cost a cool £99.

Here's how you can be in with a chance of bagging top theatre seats for cheap...

How theatre lotteries work

We've a full show-by-show rundown below. But in a nutshell:

  • It's always free to enter. You fill in an online form to enter a draw for cut-price tickets.
  • The performance could be the day of the draw, or up to a fortnight ahead. It depends on the show. You'll need to be flexible though – this isn't for those who need to book tickets months in advance.
  • If you win, you'll be told by email. You've then normally a very limited time to decide to buy the tickets – though you're not obliged to.
  • The exact seats you'll get vary. But at some theatres they're in the front row.

And the beauty of these lotteries over queuing for cheap on-the-day seats is that there's no need to shiver outside in person in the colder months.

Why do theatres do this? The lotteries are a cheap opportunity for theatres to promote their shows (people often share them on social media). Plus they're a way to bring in new, younger theatregoers or those who might not be able to afford seats usually.

Show-by-show – how to enter

Here's a list of the top theatre shows that run lottos. All the ones we've found are for London's West End, but if you know of any others across the UK, tell us in the MSE Forum – please do let us know if you've won too.

Top Cabaret seats for £25 via TodayTix

A number of 'exceptional' seats for Cabaret, including some in tables at the front, are up for grabs at £25 for every performance via a free-to-enter lottery. 

According to TodayTix, ticket values vary as seats are scattered around the theatre. There will be six lottery seats available per performance, but you can double your odds of winning by hitting the share buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which appear after you submit your entry. 

How to enter: It's run by agent TodayTix and you need to download the app to enter. Just follow the link to register and select the dates you can attend. The lottery opens at 00.01am every day and closes four hours before showtime that day when the winners are drawn. 

Winners are notified by email (and push notification if you have its app). Do note you've just 30 minutes to claim the tickets and pay, and you can purchase up to two cut-price tickets.

Moulin Rouge – 'spectacular' seats, including 'can-can' tables for £25

It's possible to bag £25 tickets for the stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann's much-loved film. The £25 tickets are for various top-price seats around the theatre, including the 'can-can' tables at the front (usually £99).

How to enter: Go to the Moulin Rouge lottery. By signing up you will be automatically entered EVERY WEEK and notified via email if you have won the chance to unlock two 'spectacular' £25 seats for performances over the following four weeks. Winners are emailed every Wednesday and have seven days to purchase the lottery tickets.

Front row Hamilton for £10 via TodayTix

It's possible to bag £10 tickets for the mega-popular hip-hop musical based on the life of one of America's Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton. There are 26 lottery tickets available per performance, located in the front few rows of the stalls (usually £75 to £100).

The number of lottery tickets available varies by performance but you can double your odds of winning by sharing the lottery on Facebook or Twitter.

How to enter: The lottery is run by ticket agent TodayTix – just download the app and search for the relevant show to enter. The lottery opens at 00.01am every Friday and closes at 1pm on Thursdays. You can select to enter for shows for the following Tuesday to Sunday. Winners are notified by email and push notification, and you've just 30 minutes to buy the tickets. You can purchase up to two cut-price tickets. 

'Great seats' for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – parts one and two for £40

Every week, 40 tickets at £40 are up for grabs for every performance of J.K. Rowling's sought-after show Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the following week. The play is split into two consecutive performances and you pay £20 per part, so that's £40 per guest in total.

Seats vary but agent TodayTix, which runs the lottery, says they will "always be some of the best seats in the house". Top-price tickets normally cost up to £160 in total (£80 per part). 

How to enter: Submit your entry on TodayTix. The lottery opens every Monday at 00.01am and closes on Friday at 1pm. It notifies winners (via email or, if you've the app, push notification) between 1pm and 5pm that day, and they have 30 minutes to claim. Winners can buy up to two tickets per part.

Matilda – best seats for £25

Every fortnight you can enter a lottery to bag tickets at £25 each for Matilda, the musical based on the Roald Dahl children's book. Each day, the theatre releases a number of top-price seats at £25 each for performances five days ahead (normally worth up to £95 each).

How to enter: Visit the Matilda lottery and enter your details and preferred performances. After you've entered, it gives you the option to hit buttons to share on Facebook or Twitter to boost your chances. You'll get an email three to five days in advance to let you know if you've won. It is a rolling lottery with no closing date, but you can only enter once every two weeks, so set yourself a reminder. Winners have 24 hours to book tickets. See full terms.

We've heard of many successes – for example, Kat told us on Facebook:

I won the Matilda lottery, £25 per ticket in stalls. Fabulous seats!