Friday night theatre breaks with top priced tickets are sometimes a bit tricky to find. Many packages on offer from the tour companies are based on either midweek matinee or evening performances, occasionally Saturday matinees or Saturday nights. Even when you do find one, not all packages are equal and many don’t offer top priced tickets.
Friday night theatre breaks1 can be a good choice, especially if you want to make a real mini-holiday out of your trip to London. With Friday and Saturday nights in a hotel this gives you your show on the Friday then all day Saturday to mooch round London and see the sights followed by a night out in capital. Up bright and early on Sunday morning (or not!) once you’ve checked out, you have another day to wander round the city. If you can delay your departure till early evening then you can really enjoy Sunday as another full day in London.
Friday night theatre breaks – a suggested itinerary
Friday night – check in, pre-theatre dinner, then see your show
Ideally you arrive, by rail or car, on the Friday afternoon and check into your hotel. Don’t worry if your hotel is just outside the centre, say somewhere like Docklands. Most commuters late on Friday afternoons are travelling in the other direction so just hop on the DLR and you’ll be in the West End in no time.
Then you wander off for a pre-theatre dinner close to your show. Lots of the West End restaurants offer very a reasonable pre-theatre menu.
Next you arrive at your show, don’t forget you need to get there at least 30 minutes before the performance starts. As well as being helpful for the theatre this also gives you time to order your interval drinks. Well worth doing to avoid the queues! Once you are seated you can soak up the atmosphere and excitement!
After the show you can either head straight back to your hotel or take a stroll round the West End and soak up the atmosphere. The West End as the shows come out is a busy, buzzing place to be. You might find you are a little peckish after the show and there are lots of places open for late night snacking or dining. I’m quite fond of the La Taska chain, their shared tapas platter and a glass (or two!) of red wine makes a nice after theatre small meal at a very reasonable price.
Two Shows in One Trip, Saturday Shopping, Sight-seeing and a Night on the Town
Up and out into the city after breakfast in your hotel. The big question is where to shop and what do you want to see? Now if you are a dedicated fan of the theatre you will scurry off early to the Leicester Square cut price tickets booth and see if you can snag a bargain for either Saturday matinee or evening. You might even get one for Sunday afternoon! Tickets are definitely cheaper and worth checking for but they are not massively discounted and you won’t usually get the top shows. Sometimes seats have restricted views but it shouldn’t be enough to spoil your enjoyment. Do make sure you go to the proper, official one though and never, ever buy tickets on the street. You could lose a lot of money that way and ruin your trip.
So where to next? My ‘must see’ list might include Harrods (the windows at Christmas are worth the trip alone, never mind the store!), Fortum and Masons (great for people watching!), Selfridges (obviously!), Liberty (best for bijoux presents for female friends), Hamleys (Best. Toy. Shop. Ever), and Apple (Tip- Apple Store, Covent Garden, best. ) Your list is probably different 🙂 but that’s the thing about London, whatever your interests you’ll find it here.
If you don’t want to shop then a trip on the London Eye followed by a stroll down the Southbank to Shakespear’s Globe Theatre will pass a very pleasant day.
If you forgot to fit in a spot of lunch don’t despair. Head for China Town and treat yourself to some of the best Dim Sum ever! Afternoon tea takes on a new meaning in Soho and a pot of green tea along with some small, but really tasty, treats will perk you up.
Then off back to the hotel to dump the shopping, maybe a little snooze, then freshen up before your night out on the town. If you have booked a show then nip off to the theatre, otherwise what do you feel like? A copy of Time Out will help you work out what’s on. Personally though, if I’m not seeing another show I’d tend to look for a nice restaurant near the hotel, usually not hard in London. That way we could have a nice meal and then finish off the evening in the hotel bar.
Brunch, London Markets and a River Trip on Sunday
I find a long, leisurely brunch followed by a wander round one of London’s famous Sunday markets a pretty perfect Sunday morning in town. In the afternoon if you have time it’s fun to fit in a trip on a river boat too, one of the best ways to see the city without being to hard on the feet! A Westminster Cruise is not too expensive and you can travel all day on its hop on hop off service.
Or why not take the boat to Greenwich? There’s a lovely market there on Sundays and many of the historic buildings are open to the public. Don’t miss the newly restored and rather magnificent Cutty Sark! Greenwich has dozens of little tea and coffee shops too, or just buy some delicious street food from the market. I highly recommend the Taste of the Algarve which has lovely Portuguese finger food and the sushi bar is pretty good too.
If you like gardens and the weather is good then make a day of it and take a boat all the way to Kew Gardens. It will give you a unique view of the Thames and Kew Gardens are always worth seeing what ever the time of year.
Availability for shows depends on your chosen dates but shows can include Billy Elliot, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Jersey Boys, Les Miserables, Let It Be, Mamma Mia, Matilda The Musical, Phantom of the Opera, Rock of Ages, Shrek The Musical, Singin In The Rain, The 39 Steps, The Bodyguard, The Lion King, The Mousetrap, The Woman In Black, Top Hat, Viva Forever, War Horse, We Will Rock You & Wicked.