Travel

London Theatre for Seniors: Access to Theatres

London Theatre for Seniors

London is the most popular travel destination in Europe, and it’s easy to see why. This big, bustling city is a sprawling collage of ancient history and super-modern, teams with arts and culture and has a compact centre that’s easy to navigate. It is also known for having some of the best theatre in the world, on a level with New York and dwarfing any other European city’s offers. For many of London’s visitors, a West End show (London theatre) is on their list of things to do.

In 2017, West End audiences topped 15 million and box offices took in more than 700 million pounds. These figures have grown year on year and aren’t showing any sign of slowing down. The Victorian and Edwardian buildings that house spectacular productions from the UK and abroad are also marvels in and of themselves – New York’s theatres are newer and wider, whereas London’s are ornately decorated and more intimate.

Senior Access to Theatres

One of the big problems these glamorous theatres have is access, which is a concern for many senior travellers. The theatres’ architects didn’t consider those with access needs, and government legislation that protects buildings deemed historically significant often prohibits structural changes that would facilitate access, like permanent ramps and elevators. Though theatres are doing their best to enable everyone to experience London’s world-class entertainment, going to the theatre takes some planning if you have access requirements.

Access services must be booked in advance, whether its wheelchair spaces, assistance dog sitting, sound amplification equipment, or anything else that the theatre can provide to enable everyone to see their performances. Most venues have dedicated staff trained to support people with access requirements, but finding the direct contact details for box offices or access teams is often difficult.

London Theatre Tickets for Seniors

The huge industry has spawned a wealth of digital information that takes a lot of time to wade through. There are numerous ticket vendors, fan sites, reviews and news outlets (WhatsOnStage is a great one) and forums. Finding the theatre’s official website amongst these isn’t always easy, especially as most theatre owners have several venues in their portfolio. For example, ATG own 18 venues across the UK and the theatre’s official websites are all part of their expansive website. The sites you will find don’t always have the most up-to-date or detailed access information, leading to a time consuming and stressful experience for someone who’s unfamiliar with London’s Theatreland.

The good news is that there are great websites that help make this process quicker. Official London Theatre has an extensive access section that includes the dates for upcoming access performances and a downloadable venue guide. SeatPlan has a page dedicated to each of London’s major commercial theatres, with its interactive seating plans providing a wealth of information about the quality of each seat. Theatregoers add reviews of their seats, including photos, which can give audiences a feel for their upcoming theatre experience. Each venue page also has an accessibility tab, which provides detailed information about the building’s design, including the number of stairs to each seating level, whether or not it has an elevator and the Holy Grail – contact details for the access teams. SeatPlan also lists information about current shows, and you can search by both venue and show title.

Conclusion

With London’s buses and taxis totally accessible (the Tube still has some catching up to do!), it’s easy to get from your hotel to the theatre. But getting inside a London theatre, and getting to your seat, can require a lot of effort. Luckily, there are some great resources that can help, and speaking directly with the access teams or box offices will ensure you have a London theatre trip to remember.

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