London is a great place to visit with the whole family as there is so much to do and see. You can easily spend a few days there and not even touch the surface of everything you might want to do. One thing that really draws people in is the West End and the fantastic selection of shows on offer. However, these shows aren’t the same as going to your local theatre and you might get caught out if you go with children. Today I’m sharing my top tips for taking your child to their first West End show.
Choose your show wisely
The West End has so many shows to choose from and it’s always hard to decide on what to see first. Something to remember is that although a lot of shows might seem like they are child friendly, it might not always be the case. It’s worth researching a show before you book tickets to find out if there is anything scary or violent etc. in the show and whether it will be suitable for your child.
Many shows have age restrictions. For example, we saw Frozen the Musical in December 2021 and children under 4 were not admitted so this means that you cannot take babies in. This particular show was suitable for age 6+ and children had to be able to sit in a seat on their own (booster seats were available). Theatres can be extremely strict when it comes to age restrictions so be sure to look into this before booking tickets.
Where to sit
For our first West End show we chose to buy expensive tickets to ensure Erin had a good view. We paid £90 per ticket to sit in the 2nd row of the Royal Circle (section above the stalls in that theatre). While these were great seats, we could have paid less and sat somewhere else while still getting a good view.
If you’re happy to try to get something last minute you can get Rush tickets on TodayTix or Disney Day Tickets for shows such as The Lion King or Frozen. This means you could get seats for as little as £20 each but in areas that would usually cost more. There’s a risk of not getting anything at all though by doing it this way.
Another thing to think about is how easy it is to get to toilets from your seats. Not all children will be able to wait until the interval and you don’t want to disturb everyone else. We chose seats near the end of a row so that we could get out easily if we needed to.
Many West End shows have both matinee and evening shows with varying start times. Matinee shows usually start at either 2pm or 2:30 while evening shows start at 7pm or 7:30.
If your child isn’t used to staying up late they might really struggle with an evening show as they can end anywhere from roughly 9:30 to 10:30 and then you obviously have to get home or back to a hotel after that as well. Catching a matinee show can be a great idea with children but they’re often not available every day so you’ll need to plan your visit around this.
It’s not a Panto
One of the big differences in a West End show compared to something like a Pantomime is that audience participation is not encouraged. In fact, it is definitely frowned upon. We had a chat with Erin before we saw Frozen and explained that she couldn’t sing and dance her way through the show, something she might do elsewhere. This was also put out as an announcement before Frozen started.
People pay a lot of money to see the amazing shows and cast and although it might sound harsh, they don’t want you or your children singing really loud next to them.
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